Lap 42

 

Even though the Village of Elkhart Lake was only a couple miles north of Old Man Millerís field, we seldom went into town. In our tent camping days, we would go into town fairly often. But once we started camping in our motor homes, we almost never went into the village. If we needed supplies, like brats or more beer, we usually went into the larger town of Plymouth.

If we got there early enough on Friday nights, we would sometimes go to a restaurant that was located on highway 67, just as you came into town. They had an all-you-could-eat fish fry on Fridays that was very good. We did not eat there very often since we all usually had to work on Friday and would not leave till after work. It is a three-hour drive from the Chicago area to Elkhart Lake, and we usually arrived late and did not bother going into town for the fish fry.

However, many times we would go in to Elkhart Lake to the Lutheran church on Sunday mornings. We went there just for the breakfast. It reminded me of the church in Watkins Glen that offered the turkey dinner. This church offered a pancake and sausage breakfast in the church basement on race weekends.

This was a good deal, since for a couple of bucks you could get a nice breakfast and help out the church at the same time. I always thought it was a bit ironic that on Sunday mornings there would be a bunch of us, nursing bad hangovers and eating breakfast, in the basement while church services were going on up stairs. At least we could honestly say we had gone to church.

This worked out well for my son, Eric, one weekend. When he was in his confirmation class in our church at home, he was required to write a summary of the sermon each Sunday. However, if we went to another church, all he had to do was turn in the bulletin from that church. One Sunday morning when we went into the church in Elkhart Lake for breakfast, Eric went upstairs and collected a bulletin for that morningís service, which he turned in for credit at his next confirmation class. Cheating, to be sure, but I thought it was creative on his part and, after all, we had been to church.

Jimmy moved from Chicago out to the western suburbs near me, and we quickly developed a tradition of going to each otherís place to watch Monday Night football. I would go to Jimmyís apartment one week, and he would come to my house the next. Both of us being from Wisconsin, we were Green Bay Packer fans and we both drank Budweiser.

During the course of a normal Monday night game, Jimmy and I would normally go through a twelve pack of Bud. One night, we were at my house, and the Packers were playing the New England Patriots. The Pats were a good team that year and the Pack were not supposed to be. The Packers had a new quarterback named David Whitehurst. Jimmy and I did not expect much as the game began. All of a sudden, the Packers scored and I got us fresh beers to celebrate. The Packers played a great game and the two of us were thrilled. The more the Packers scored, the more we drank. The Packers won big time, and after Jimmy had headed for home, I looked at the damage and realized we drank a case and a half of beer during the course of the game!

I have mentioned that Jimmyís bladder was legendary. One night, Donnie joined us for Monday night football. We drank the usual amount of beer, and Jimmy held up his end. Donnie and I made a couple of trips to the john, but Jimmy never did. Donnie was amazed at Jimmyís capacity and remarked on the fact that we were in the second half of the game and Jimmy had not gone to the bathroom yet. Jimmy just said, "Donít need to yet."

The game ended, Jimmy said good night and got in his car without going to the john. Donnie went out to watch him drive away to make sure he did not stop at the park at the corner to pee. He did not, and went all the way home without going, which was really impressive as by that time he had moved to Wauconda, which was nearly an hour drive from my house. Jimmy had a big beer belly, but we sometimes wondered if it was belly or bladder.

Many times we would go up to Road America just for race day rather than the whole weekend. On these occasions, my son and I would stop in Wauconda and pick Jimmy up. While being a life long bachelor had made him a great cook, he was a lousy housekeeper. He would usually not do dishes until he ran out of clean ones, so the sink in the kitchen was always full of dirty dishes. His house in Wauconda was a study in clutter. To get from one room to the next, you had to follow a path through the stuff that had accumulated over time.

Once, as we were leaving his house, Jimmy stopped and said, "I forgot to lock the door." I said, "Yes, you better do that. We would not want some mad cleaning lady to get in there and clean the joint up." Eric said, "She would never get away with it. We would catch her in the act because she would still be cleaning when we get back tonight."

On one such a trip to Road America it was Jimmy, Donnie, Eric and me. It was a miserable, rainy day and had been raining steadily for hours. We were sitting on the hill by corner six, overlooking corner five. Unlike oval racing, like NASCAR, for example, where they postpone the race if someone spits on the track, road racing goes on regardless of weather. It is not pleasant for the drivers or the spectators, but it can be exciting.

We were dressed for it since we lived by Carlís corollary, "If you didnít bring with you, you canít put it on." Jimmy was wearing a green plastic poncho with the hood up over his head and was sitting on a stool. The poncho was draped over him all the way to the ground on all sides, and all you could see of him was his face. Donnie, some what concerned, asked me, "Whatís wrong with Jimmy?" I said, "I donít think there is anything wrong with him. Why do you ask?" "Well," Donnie said, "Why isnít he drinking?" I said, "He is, just watch." Donnie watched, and soon he saw the poncho rise up and cover Jimmyís mouth. His head tilted back and I said, "See, he has his beer under the poncho, so no water gets into it."

When the race was over, Jimmy got up and we saw that he had a small cooler under his stool. There was also a pile of empty beer cans. Donnie was relieved because he had been worried that Jimmy was not feeling well.

It was still raining on the drive home. I was driving and had the windshield wipers going as fast as they would go. They were not working very well, leaving huge streaks on the windshield. Jimmy said, "Jesus, Terry, bad windshield wipers would be better than these." Eric thought that was hysterical and reminds me of it all the time.

Donnie, who had more beer than he needed, told us, "It is darker over there" pointing to the west in the pouring rain, "because the sun is over there." Huh? Don has never been able to explain that to me. I did get new wipers soon after because Jimmy was right. The cause and effect of it being darker in the west because of the sun being in the west in a late afternoon rainstorm remains unexplained.

Copyright © 2006 by Terry Aasen

 

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