At dinner, Bob asked eventually if I follow politics. “Not if I can avoid it.”. Then I found out he’s from Virginia, and I told him it fascinates me politically, next to the beltway, yet the rural areas in its west. Told him I have a decent sense of Virginia, because I lived in Frederick, Maryland where our firstborn, Joseph, was born, and one of my goddaughters now lives in Beltway Virginia. But we often drove through the western back-country on our way to family vacations in North Carolina from Pittsburgh. Restaurants, gas stations, and driveways there are a little different than nearer Mount Vernon and the Potomac 🙂
He said he’s originally a New Yorker, so I asked upstate or not. Since I grew up 5 miles south of the upstate border. He has driven on I-81 through Scranton and within 10 miles of Susquehanna on his way through Binghamton for wrestling tournaments. And he said upstate should be a different state also.
And here we were in California, which is the fifth largest economy in the world, and should be several states.
Bob is out here to see the Breeders Cup at Del Mar, which is blocks from the last hotel I stayed at in San Diego, and rode a rented motorcycle closer to the track, and wondered if it was a significant track. Well, the breeders cup, yeah. Biggest purse (monetary prize) in the “sport of kings,” of which my dad was an irrepressible fan.
He recommends Saratoga for a trip from Pittsburgh, but Laurel is a stone’s-throw away from Joseph in Columbia. Pimlico where they run one of the three legs of the Triple Crown (The Preakness stakes), is a bit rundown, but so is Laurel. After the rise of casinos and online gambling, the racing industry has suffered, he says.
I asked why he was in California; for business? He doesn’t do business anymore. Retired. So, no. I asked if he was just a horse fan, or in the business. He was small in the business a while ago, but now he’s just a fan in retirement.
So my chat with him sealed the deal. My boys have to see thoroughbreds run live, from the fence (1100 pounds of life moving at 35 mph, as Bob puts it), and then, since you can’t see the backstretch from the fence, a couple of races high in the stands. If they wanna place bets for fun, Bob suggests I make a college graduate spend his money on that.
Bob knew the Scranton area, as well as the Pittsburgh North Hills area, because his son was a wrestler when he lived in Virginia. He knew about the choice you have to make in middle school, because you can’t wrestle and play basketball, and he suspected I took the basketball track 🙂 I did, but missed wrestling dearly.
We discussed what a lonely sport wrestling is, and he reminded me of the remarkable character that loneliness builds when there’s no one else to blame like there is other team sports (except cross country and track in a lot of cases).
I was reading John Pavlovitz’s book at dinner when finally, after he finished his lamb chops and I finished my imported Italian spaghetti dish, we broke the silence from two seats away.
I was turned onto John Pavlovitz by recent Facebook posts by one of my high school English teachers (from 3 1/2 decades ago). I’m pretty sure that my notion of wrestling’s loneliness came from her older son, through her, or perhaps through her husband with whom my dad commuted to school, and to me from my dad she has called “The Big D.”
Thanks Mrs. K. Big or little
Thank you Bob.
My goodness, Louis Armstrong was right. What a wonderful world.
Neil “little” d. 2021-11-02