Friday, October 05, 2007

Time is a fleeting thing, on the track and in real life

I am sitting here on a Friday afternoon, piddling away at stuff with Nextel Cup practice from Talladega on the television, and somehow I got to thinking about how funny time is.

I'll be heading to Talladega early Saturday morning to cover qualifying for Sunday's UAW-Ford 500 at the 2.66-mile track. When that starts, the 16 guys fighting for the eight spots available to those not in the top 35 in Nextel Cup owner points will be fighting for every tenth of a second they can get.

I would guess that the fastest eight in that group will be among the fastest 12 or so cars overall in the qualifying sessions. The 35 exempt cars worked mainly on racing setups Friday, but the other were trying to squeeze out every possible bit of speed from their cars.

A second on a race track like Talladega is forever. But sometimes forever can seem like a second, too. In a couple of hours, I am going to my 30th high school reunion. Good grief, I swear it was like three or four days ago I was sitting in Mrs. Geraldine Johnston's English class trying not to choke while taking a test on whatever we had been reading that week.

They sent us a list of people who're planning to be there Friday night, and as I read through it I saw names of a bunch of people that I went through 12 years - Rhyne Elementary, Highland Junior High and Hunter Huss High School - with. I can't say for sure, but I think there are a handful of them that were in at least one class with me every day from the time I was 6 until the time I went to college.

Somebody asked me how long it had been since I saw some of those folks, and it stunned me to have to say I imagined I hadn't seen them since we graduate in June of 1977. It sure doesn't seem like that.

The reunion is Friday night and Saturday night, but I am only playing hooky from the race track for one night. They'll have to tell lies about me rather than to me at Saturday's gathering.

The other reason I didn't go to Alabama on Thursday, as I normally would have, was that we had Eli's first birthday party Thursday night. His birthday was Wednesday, but it worked out better for everybody to do it a day late, and I was lucky I got to be there to see him.

Eli is my grandson, and he's growing up like a weed. There are million things I could say about him, but it'd just be the kind of paw-paw bragging that nobody really wants to hear.

What amazes me most about him, though, is the sense of wonder he still seems to have about everything you put in front of him. A puppy, a bicycle, a toy with a few flashing lights - anything that catches his eye makes those same eyes light up and dance.

I am guessing, and hoping, there will a lot of that same light in some of the slightly older eyes among my old friends and classmates when we get together Friday night. There were a lot of pretty cool people who graduated with me in 1977, even though when I looked back today at the list of songs that were atop the charts that year I have to admit I was pretty disappointed.

Surely we knew better than that.

Anyway, tomorrow I'll go back to thinking about and writing about the tiny little snippets of time that make such a big difference in the sport I now cover.

Until then, though, I think I am going to see how slow I can make time go. I look forward to seeing what kind of young man Eli will be one day, but I have to admit he's pretty remarkable the way he is right now.

As for my old high school buddies, maybe we'll manage to spend as much time talking about how remarkable things have been in the years since we left each other as we will about how much fun we had back and Hunter Huss.

I sure hope so.


Anonymous said...

Well Thanks David for making me feel old! At first I thought you where joking about your 30 year high School reunion! I gaduated in '79, and just a few days ago, realized my "Baby" was 19 and looking at distant collages...It's like that Kenny Chesney song "Don't Blink"

Anonymous said...

Hope you enjoyed the reunion. I guess I must be getting old since my 30th was 4 years ago.

Congratulations on Eli's 1st birthday party. If you have chocolate cake, the 1st birthday is the best one. Great pictures!

Thanks for your column.

Anonymous said...

This is David Poole at his finest. Happy 1st Birthday to Eli!!!!

Anonymous said...

get pictures of the first one..for sure..before you know it they have grown up...enjoy the reunion ...

Anonymous said...

Tough job u have there buddy lol writing about NASCAR the greatest sport in the world :P

Congrats on the b day for Eli, and thank you for your great writings!

Wish you would participate on a NASCAR forum as well