I know my mother’s favorite athlete without even asking. Unfortunately, she bleeds Carolina Blue and said athlete is Tyler Hansbrough, which makes me feel like eating oven cleaner. To her, Psycho T is the most adorable boy ever. She thinks his big eyes make him look like a Precious Moments figurine, while I think they make him look like a cow. Potato, potahto.
The ‘rents were in town this weekend so I thought I’d take the time to ask her about her all-time favorites, mainly because that gave us something to talk about other than my unemployment…
Dad: You really need to find a source of income. Your neighbor is going to notice that you’ve been eating out of her bird feeder.
Me: Maybe, but I’ve never been more regular. Mom, who were your favorite athletes when you were my age?
Mom: Which neighbor? The one with the perm or the lesbia—what?
Me: You know. The sports stars you thought were the hottest.
Mom: I get them confused. They both wear Crocs. Hmm… that’s a tough question.
Dad: If you mention Wilt Chamberlain, I’m leaving. And getting some disinfectant.
Mom: I’d have to say the Lone Ranger.
Me: He doesn’t count.
Mom: Why? He rides a horse. That’s a sport.
Me: I just—
Dad: I like roller derby.
Mom: What’s this for?
Me: I’m writing about it.
Dad: And beach volleyball.
Mom: Is this for that website? The one you won’t let me read?
Me: No, of course not. It’s for the church newsletter.
Dad: And that commercial where the girl washes a car.
Me: So what about football players? Joe Namath?
Dad: Or Y.A. Tittle?
Mom: Doesn’t he do our taxes?
Dad: Red Grange?
Mom: I really never liked football.
Dad: That’s Jimmy Candor’s fault.
Me: Who’s Jimmy Candor?
Dad: This football player she grew up with who used to put her in a trashcan every day.
Mom: He did. Every day. And he’d sit on the lid.
Dad: Your mother was the original Oscar the Grouch.
Mom: I think Jimmy’s in prison now.
Me: Let’s try again. Did you play any sports?
Mom: Croquet. I hit Bob Taylor in the head with the mallet once.
Dad: What happened on the second date?
Mom: I hit Ray Ellis too.
Dad: He’s definitely in prison now.
Mom: And Phil Powell.
Dad: That was at the class reunion. Last summer.
Mom: I never liked those things anyway.
Me: This is going well. Did you watch sports?
Dad: Your mother didn’t have a TV.
Mom: Yes we did!
Dad: They did puppet shows instead.
Me: <sobs, considers stabbing self with pickle spear>
Mom: Oh! Is race car driving a sport?
Dad: If there’s a chance of incineration, it’s a sport.
Mom: Then it’s Fireball Roberts!
Me: Who’s he?
Dad: Someone who was incinerated.
Mom: Yes, definitely Fireball Roberts. I loved him.
Dad: You have some birdseed in your teeth.
Yes, he exists. And it’s not at all troubling that my mother was attracted to someone who looks like he recently escaped from a chain gang.
Meanwhile the woman on the left (who is not my mother) is looking for the source of his nickname.
Edward Glenn “Fireball” Roberts had a successful 15 year career as a stock car racer, was voted one of NASCAR’s 50 Greatest Drivers, and is enshrined in the International Motorsports Hall of Fame. There is a street named for him in North Carolina, allowing you to drive your car on a road memorializing a man who died while driving a car.
Miss Autolite smiles because she donated her pants to the war effort.
Miss Pontiac laughs because the war is over.
If Mr. Roberts had lived a generation later, he certainly would’ve earned NASCAR’s highest honor, a rear window decal of Calvin pissing on his race car number.
Happy Mother’s Day, Mom.