Today I have a guest blogger, my dear husband Tom, who is mourning for his childhood hero:
This is the day that millions of moms across the country have been waiting for 30 years to arrive–my own especially. Evel Knievel is dead.
Now before the hate mail and death threats from the Hells Angels kick in, let me be clear–I mean absolutely no disrespect for the man. It’s just that, if you are or ever have been the mother of a 10-year-old boy, this is sort of like the “I’m melting, I’m mellllttting” moment in The Wizard of Oz. Their little munchkins have finally been liberated. Even if some of them are 40 years old.
To put in perspective–the modern day equivalent of this for mothers of 10-year-old girls would be if someone like Lindsey Lohan or Britney Spears wound up in rehab. Oh wait….
Yes, I was a fan. And not a closeted fan–like when I used to listen to Barry Manilow and Neil Diamond and ABBA in high school. (It was a phase, don’t go there.) Those memorial montages that CNN has been running for the past 12 hours–I saw those live on Wide World of Sports. For the uneducated or anyone under age 30, that’s what we had before ESPN2. That’s how we spent our Saturdays–watching Evel Knievel and demolition derby and stock car races before they were the glamorous world that NASCAR has created–and then going outside and trying to duplicate those exploits on our Schwinn 3-speeds.
And it’s because of that pile of bicycle carcasses, the incessant whine of the crank up toy motorcycles, the black skid marks they left on the kitchen tile, the chipped up wall trim where they stopped, and the millions of dollars that lined the pockets of the marketing geniuses of the Ideal toy company rather than padding our college funds–that my mother, as well as many others of a certain age, will likely pour themselves a glass of the same Jack Daniels that they had hoped would certainly lead to the demise of their sons’ hero in the event that smashing into a canyon wall did not.
See, when you’re a non-athletic kid growing up in rural Iowa, when you didn’t care about football or baseball or basketball like my normal cousins did, this is what we had to look up to in the 70’s. Evel Knievel, Joey Chitwood, Indy cars, the Six Million Dollar Man, William Shatner–feats of derring-do that depended upon luck and machinery and bravado, not putting a ball through a hoop or over a goalpost or avoiding someone who’s bigger and faster than you (except for the Bigfoot episodes of Six Million Dollar Man, but that’s another story….). And along with it all, we did absorb Knievel’s other messages–don’t do drugs, seat belts save lives so buckle up–and despite what our mothers expected, for the most part we turned out OK.
Tonight I’ll raise a toast myself–that is, if I can find a hollowed out walking cane from which to drink it (look it up). Thanks for the memories Robert Craig, and rest in peace.