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Tuesday, Aug. 20, 2002
Just a few notes to myself, hope you don’t mind.

Actually they’re notes to you guys too, but I suppose that’s so blatantly obvious it probably doesn’t need to be said. Did I just write myself into a corner there or what?

Back in the Spring we took a trip to Darlington to watch the NASCAR racing thing, a four day sabbatical in an RV with copious amounts of “can you feel the love in here?” remarks betwixt Stu and I and the wives. We survived, we came home and bathed, which was the one thing pointedly missing in an RV parking lot with no water hookups.

I had procured tickets to this pilgrimage from the Troll Brothers, so named because of their size (length equaling width), their beards, their 40 year old unmarried living-with-mum lifestyle and their notorious reputation for squeezing a nickel. They had the tickets, conveniently had an RV lot reserved next to their own, were in a panic to sell them, and Outfoxed obliged.

In an after race follow-up meeting with the Troll Bros. over a mug of ale (you can insert your own Tolkien mental image here), I was led to understand that they had similar tickets available for the Fall race at Darlington as well. Which made sense, these races tend to come in pairs every year, People tend to book their vacation time around them, go to the same tracks, etc. So when they asked if I was interested in tickets again, I said sure, we’d love to go. Sign me up.

And I even had another chance to talk with the Trolls after that. They were most gleeful, talking about the trip, pre-planning and wondering if I was going to be the one getting up at 4 am to cook bacon and eggs on the grille again, patting their (need I say?) ample bellies and chortling in their beards about steaks and Confederate flags and the price of gas below the South Carolina border.

Stu and I arraigned for the RV on the weekend in question, started making up a food list and crossed off certain work duties for those days. Were all but packed and on the road. Awaiting only one thing. The tickets.

It was getting down to the eleventh hour this weekend, I hate leaving stuff like No Tickets until the last minute, so I put in a call to the Troll Bros. at their tree stump to inquire about just when I might be able to get my hands on them. The conversation went something like this.

Outfoxed: “Hey Troll, how we coming on those tickets for Darlington?”
Troll 1: “Oh geez, did my brother not call you? I told him to call you, he didn’t call you?”
OF: “Uh, no, hence the reason for this conversation”
Troll 1: “Hells bells. Let me get him off his fat ass, just a sec.”
*ensuing scuttling sounds from the stump, and a belch or two*
Troll 2: “Hello? Hello Outfoxed? That you?”
OF: “It’s me, Troll. Tickets?”
Troll 2: “Oh yeah, we ought to be getting them in November.”
OF: “Troll, the race is in three weeks! Whaddya mean November?”
Troll 2: “Oh we’re not going to that race. We’re going to the Spring race. Next Spring. Yeah.”

In a fitting and utterly Troll-like way, the Brothers had decided to clinch their horde of gold between their hoary fingers, pre-planning months in advance, and never once said the words Spring Race to me. Just assumed I knew that next race meant next year. Upon relaying the news to the Outfoxed crew (with much resulting weeping and gnashing of teeth) Stu threatened to wreak great havoc on Troll World, to go steal their ale and tug on their beards and turn over their log furniture and stuff. To extract a terrible . . uh . . toll.

I happened to buy and watch the DVD version of The Lord of the Rings this weekend (beautiful, just a wonderful movie) and I swear to you, the dwarf Gimli. With his axe and his beard and his brightened countenance at the mention of gold. He could have been either of the Brothers. But I’m not yet ready to start calling them the Dwarf Bros.

Troll seems to suit them just fine.

We hired a guy to work with us for a while back in the winter. We were laying brick pavers as a parking lot at the Marina, hundreds of thousands of them, green pavers set on sand, arraigned in a pattern, forty feet wide parking lots stretching out to the horizon. What were carpenters doing setting pavers out in the freezing cold of a waterfront winter, you ask? We asked the question ourselves, many times. I’m not sure we ever satisfactorily answered it. Hence the hiring of others.

George was a bull of a man, one of those guys with nary a spare pound on him, built like a wrestler with massive arms and shoulders, the very perfect choice for the toting and laying of bricks. You use a pair of oversized tongs to pick up a stack of bricks, seven at a time, carry them from a big pallet of bricks to the actual laying point. You do this all day long. They are not light. They are in fact, heavy as hell after a while.

George sneered at the tongs. He would pickup armloads of them and jogs around, sometimes in place, juggling bricks and laughing at our looks of disbelief. Never once have I seen a harder worker, or one that had more fun with work.

He had worked many jobs for a man in his mid-twenties. Bouncer at a bar, fishing boat mate, other construction gigs. He was known to many, was separated amicably from a wife ten years his senior, was a laughing, happy go lucky guy. A fan of motorcycles and the Harley crowd. A tattooed member of the local bike gang. Not typically the sort of fellow we hang out with, except for one characteristic – he loved life, or seemed to.

We paid him in cash, this was not the sort of guy who paid his taxes and lived in the mainstream. Periodically he would up and leave town for a few days and return with tales of Alabama and the Gulf Coast, of warm weather and fishing boats he was trying to hook up with. The gig with the bricks being something to tide him over until the fish were once again schooling and being netted. He would surface and disappear, we’d see him in a bar and there would be shouts of “George!” and sessions of clanking beer mugs and tales of bricks and much hooting and joshing.

And last weekend he shot himself to death.

In Alabama. Waiting for a job on a fishing boat. A job that didn’t happen. For whatever reason, for whatever life he kept from us, for the wanderer he was and the life he lived out, until it was life no more.

Dammit George. Way too young, my tattooed buddy. Just way too damned young. It was good to have you here.

And in other, better news, my Middlest Daughter hath scored major points with the old man. She works at the local Amphitheater, the outdoor concert venue capable of large crowds for all sorts of music. She came in to the den the other night while Ally and I pontificated in front of the television, beaming her very charming and boy-snaring smile.

“I’ve got something for you guys”, she said. “We had an auction at the Amphitheater for the employees, and I used my employee points to win the bid. Here you go.”

She handed me a ticket envelope containing four center orchestra seats. To. The Allman Brothers and Galactic.

Whoooooooo, this is the sort of thing that Outfoxed gets a little bit dizzy over. Not just about the Allman’s (who I’ve been listening to since the invention of the guitar, when music was recorded on large black discs with many tiny grooves sliced in them) but Galactic! A New Orleans Jazzfest group! My hip is spasmodically gyrating just sitting here thinking about that funky sound.

Now I know she’s got an agenda, at 16 years, to persuade her parents, most specifically me, to fulfill her transportation needs by the purchasing of a motor vehicle. I know this. It is the assumed duty of every child of driving age to torment parents only recently removed from the changing of diapers into handing over a one ton rocketship on wheels to operate. Hopefully not at high speeds.

Tickets to the Allman Brothers are helpful to this quest. Not necessarily the end of the quest. But helpful.

Now if we were talking Steely Dan, say . . . .

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