Yesterday morning at the usual time I was walking Maxine, Aiden and Peanut… ah, I mean #2, 3 and 4 out to the circle pen for morning trike training when Aiden stopped me and asked, “We have a question for you that’s been bugging us for some time.”
“Ask away, my little friend, but don’t be disappointed if the answer I give you is an answer that makes no sense.”
“Where did the idea for that circle pen come from anyway?”
“Oh. That’s an easy one.”I replied. “NASCAR.”
“NAS what”? Peanut asked scratching his head.
“NASCAR. It means “Turn Left, Go Fast” in Latin, but it’s really not about you guys but about us humans just chasing our tails, which we’ve been doing since we chased the first banana out of the tree way back when. Why else would the earth be round instead of flat or square? Just so Columbus wouldn’t sail off the edge? Not likely. It’s round so that we have at least some small hope of actually catching our tails and feeling like we’re getting ahead. Besides, for evolution to evolve, it’s got to revolve and as any redneck will tell you, a revolver is a lot more reliable handgun than an automatic. Less moving parts.
The chicks just stared up at me in openmouthed confusion. “We’re having trouble following ya.”
“Ok ok. Here it is from the beginning. Listen carefully. It all began back in Ancient Roman times with a guy named Bennie Hur, who later became known as the “Godfather of NASCAR.” He made a good honest illegal living, driving his chariot filled with casks of vino down from the countryside into the city every night thus avoiding the Emperor’s Revenue agents who wanted to slap a liquor tax on his cargo of the “Nector of the Gods.” Trouble was, Bennie didn’t figure he needed a partner, especially one called “Emperor” and anyway, he had a horsepower advantage over the Revenuers because he had six horses pulling his chariot and they only had four. Soon Bennie was making the Revenuers look so stupid that he became something of a Roman folk hero. The locals would pile out of the bars, brothels and bath houses every night to wave him god speed as he raced by.
One of them happened to be the Supervisor of Events Planning for the Coliseum and needed a new attraction since the old one of throwing the Christians to the lions ended when they ran out of Christians. Why not get Bennie and his competitors (every illegal endeavor has competitors) to drive their chariots round the Coliseum circle in something called a “race” with a checkered flag and a finish line with a prize for the first chariot to cross it and a pretty girl wearing a mini toga to shake up a champagne bottle and squirt bubbly all over everybody and everything. They could charge admission, sell official racer’s autographed loin cloths and raise more revenue for the Emperor than they could ever hope to collect through any mere tax on wine.
Bennie won the first race because his horses were white and everyone knows white horses run faster than grey ones and soon every chariot in Rome had a sticker on its rear windshield that said, “Sock it to ‘em, Bennie”. But Bennie was one of those regular guys who never had a secret craving for Facebook celebrity, so he moved to New Jersey with his new country and western singer girlfriend – half his age and opened a pizza shop with his winnings and was never again heard from by his wife and ten kids.”
“Way to go, Bennie!” exclaimed Peanut
“Now fast forward a few thousand years to America and a flim-flam artist named J.C. Bottoms who just happened to own a billboard company. One day, while driving his convertible down the highway under the influence of an illegal substance, he lamented that the people were passing his billboards too fast to actually read the advertisements. Then he had an epiphany. Why not make the road circular, take the people out of their cars and seat them on the side of the road where the billboards were, and then put the billboards on cars and hire local moonshine bootlegger “Nectar of the Hillbillies” drivers named Junior or Bubba to drive them around the circle in a race with a checkered flag and a finish line with a prize for the first car to cross it and a pretty girl in a mini something or other and to shake up a champagne bottle and squirt bubbly all over everybody and everything. He figured folks would enjoy watching those billboards more than sitting at home Saturday nights staring at their lava lamps and might even pay to get in to see them. And that’s how NASCAR was born. But what the fans were watching was more than just sport. It was, in fact, the great circle of evolution as commerce evolved into sport evolved into entertainment then back into commerce.”
“Damn!” sighed #7.
“But wait! Here comes the best part. One Saturday night Mother Nature came to watch the races and while waiting for her eight dollar beer, she had an idea. Why not add Conservation and Endangered Species Reintroduction to the circle of evolution. We already had the Internet and webcams were cheap. So the next day she joined the Screen Actors Guild and began installing webcams on eagle nests, African watering holes, crane pens and places like that. Sure beat out those Lava Lamps as Must See TV. Then she added Social Media and Connectivity to the circle. “It’s just down right evolutionary for everyone to want to belong!” she said. Thus, the forces of Evolution had triumphed and the circle… the continuum was complete… Commerce, Conservation, Connectivity, Sport, Entertainment, Commerce; a swirl that just keeps on swirling and pretty soon you just can’t tell one element from the next. It’s life’s great big circle pen and we we’re all in it together, doing what we do best… chasing our tails.” Like the man said, “May the Force be with you!”
“Very Zen,” remarked Eight Ball, shaking his head.
“So what ever happened to Bennie Hur”? asked Peanut.
“Well Peanut, he went to Hollywood, got an agent and landed himself a leading role in a movie all about his life. Even did his own stunts. Later he won himself an Oscar and gave the shortest acceptance speech in the history of the Academy, “What goes around, comes around.” He later moved his 10 kids to the Jersey Shore and got them jobs on a reality TV show.”
“Far out!” exclaimed Peanut.
“OK. Enough history lessons for one day. Time for circle-pen training. And remember, all circles are not created equal so don’t let that circle pen fool you. You don’t cross the finish line until you get to St. Marks! Got it? Now, any questions?”
S I L E N C E