So this is the first time I have ever noded while enebriated. I didn't even need to use my AK, I gotta say, today was a good day.

Chinakow is sitting here telling me I am a bastard, but "It's all good" as they say. Nothing can ruin my day today. I just bought a partial ownership in a flying club. Maybe I will node about that when I can explain it clearly.

Basically that means that I can now fly whenever the hell I desire. It is bad-freaking-ass. Chinakow mixed me a hellatious gin and tonic in celebration. I have been ear to ear all day, 'cause my flight instructor was very impressed with my check out flight and was building me up.

I have my wife to thank for this. She has been extremely supportive of my desire for a career as a pilot. Thanks Babydoll!!!

So now chinakow and I have a way to get to enth's hellatious shindig, because driving there would be the suck. Chinakow totalled his car the other day and I hate driving that far, so now we will get there in less than half the time. We will still be driving from Lawrence 'cause I don't wanna deal with class B airspace in KC.

Nevermind, chinakow just put on a taste experience record and I'm a diggin' it. SWEET!!! I just talked chinakow into putting on his Anastacia record again. I'm outta here I gotta get to my hockey game, 'cause they like depend on me or some such.

/rambling

warning, contains statements made while under the influence. This node will self destruct in 300 seconds.

It's official. Korean girls are fucked up. I don't know whether the emphasis is on "Korean" or "girls." I was actually going to make a node for that, but decided I should avoid highly subjective writeups and just make it a day log.

First, a couple of older stories, to show that this isn't an isolated incident:

Exhibit A: So Jung. Met her at a bar last year and started chatting. She was impressed that I spoke Korean and we hit it off. We exchanged numbers and I called her a few days later. She immediately said she wanted to meet me that night, so we met. The date went well and she started emailing me things that sounded unambiguously positive. I won't list them all, but here's the most blatant. Her: "Do you like chocolate?" Me: "Yes. Why do you ask?" Her: "It is soon Valentine's Day. In Korea, woman buy chocolate for man to declare her love for man. I want to buy chocolate for you." Little room for misinterpretation, right? So, with all these positive signs, I decided to initiate a bit of physical contact. I know you're supposed to move slowly with Korean girls, so I do so. I hold hands with her. She's responsive. I put my arm around her the next time we're sitting together. She's cool with that. A month later, Valentine's Day rolls around. As promised, she gives me chocolate (I wasn't supposed to give her anything, since they have a separate day for that, in Korea, called White Day... but I gave her a little amethyst necklace anyway). That night, I walk her home. Being Valentine's Day, I figure it's a good time for the first kiss. I lean in... "No," she says. "Okay," I say, and give her a hug and go home. We had already made plans to meet a few days later. She doesn't show up. I call her. She doesn't answer. The next day, I email her. No response. I try calling her again. No answer. Finally, a few days later, I get this email (grammar mistakes hers):

Alex. I think you are a my friend. I do not think you are a my boyfriend. This is something that bothers my conscience for many days. I cannot love you. I already have a lover. But I like free. So I do not make a boyfriend. I must undeceive you on this point.

Exhibit B: Su Mi. A good friend of mine for a long time. Eventually, I started having feelings for her more than just friendship. To let her know, I decided to buy her flowers. So that there'd be no ambiguity about what I meant by them, I opted for red roses. She thanks me for them, and seems happy, but doesn't give me any further signal. Is it possible she didn't understand the message I was trying to convey? Apparently, yes. A week or two later, I say it straight out. She's completely surprised. Had no idea. She says that she's not sure what to say. She likes me a lot, and knows that I'm good boyfriend material, but until that point, she hadn't thought of me as more than a friend. She needs some time to think about it. "Love is dangerous," she says. She had a boyfriend a few years before and he broke her heart. So far, this all seems reasonable. Not the most favorable result for me, but she handled it very well. A few months later (just the other week), she tells me what was really going on. She proabably would have gone with me, except her asshole ex-boyfriend, who hurt her so much before, had spotaneously decided he wanted her back, and had proposed to her. So, rather than taking a chance on dating a guy that she thinks will probably treat her well, she's planning on marrying the jerk who already tore her heart into a million tiny pieces once before. Such a reasonable girl in most things, which is part of what drew me to her in the first place... why can't she make a good decision when it comes to love?

Which brings us up to the present, and Eun Jung. Sweet little girl. Cute as a button. Used to work at a bar called Parthenon (recently quit, so she'd have her evenings free to do things like go out with me). I started chatting her up one night when I was drunk, and exchanged phone numbers with her. The next morning, I figured that nothing would come of it. You can't honestly expect to pick up a bar waitress. But she calls me that night and tells me she wants to see me again. I go back to the bar a few nights later and stick around until closing at 2 AM and go out with her afterwards. The next week, she gets off work early, and asks me to meet her. I do, and she introduces me to her sisters. Every Korean I've mentioned this to says that if a Korean girl introduces you to her family members, it's a sure sign that she's interested. In front of her older sister, she keeps asking me questions about my job, and my plans for the future, as if seeking approval, and her older sister seems to be giving it. She text messages me on my cell phone and asks me if I've fallen in love with her. Wary of Korean girls, and knowing that they like to play games, I message her back and say (in Korean) "I don't want to answer that. Keeping it a mystery is more fun. Anyway, when talking about love, you have to confess before you ask." She's actually the one to initiate physical contact this time, as she started taking my arm whenever we walked together. Last night, I try to move it along a little bit, and when she goes to take my arm, I hold hands with her instead. No complaint from her. That night, she walks me home, and comes into my apartment with me, much to my surprise. Back home, if you're dating a girl, and she goes home with you at the end of a night of drinking, it probably means she wants to sleep with you. Still, I figure I'm not going to take any chances, and instead of making a physical move, I tell her (in Korean again... she speaks no English): "You were right when you sent me that text message. I have fallen for you. How do you feel about me?" And she says she just wants to be friends. She gives me a long speech that I can't really understand, but I just nod and pretend I get it. It's a case of "I don't know what you're saying, but I know what you mean." You don't need to be fluent in a language to get the gist of a let's just be friends talk. Then she asks me for a blanket and sleeps on the floor in my living room. In the morning, she wakes me up and asks me for some money for a taxi. I think I agreed to go bowling with her this afternoon.

So... how are you supposed to go about dating a Korean girl if girls who just want to be friends act as if they're very interested in you? Who knows... certainly not me.

Strangely, the only woman here who treats me right is the 37 year old divorced mother of two that I was sleeping with when she was the supervisor at my school, but who now lives in a different city. Maybe I should forget about finding someone my own age (I'm 24) and just stick with her. I feel something resembling love for her, I know she loves me, the sex is great, and she's never played any stupid games with me. The only problem is that I'm never going to want to marry her. I can't be a father to her daughters... I can't stay with someone 13 years older than me forever. Will I really feel comfortable being in a relationship with her while knowing all along that when someone closer to my own age comes along, I'll abandon her? It's certainly not fair to her, even if she knows it as well as I do and accepts it.

6 days until I go back to Canada for Christmas. Hopefully that will give me a chance to get my head straight.

Saturday is my day off, from my day job, but I was running all day. I was laying in bed at 8:15 or so and heard my wife saying, "I wonder if daddy is up yet so he can get the Christmas Tree today?" I was but I didn't feel like hauling my tired ass out of bed yet. My sinuses were dry and crusty and I felt like I'd been hit by a truck. The weather forecast was calling for lots of snow so I made my move, the first step. I staggered into the bathroom to take a hot steamy shower. My wife was in there. I forced a civil smile. I'm not a morning person.

I felt half better after that. A hot cup of tea with honey and a couple of honey-wheat bagels helped some more. I looked through the paper. Cardinal Law stepped down from his lofty pedestal in Boston. I liked the protest sign I saw in the paper: Wanted - Bernie the Pimp. He is still a Cardinal and can be assigned to another church position and vote in papal elections. The catholic church is still in hot water. And so is Trent Lott and so long Hank, and all your baggage. Taking names but not kicking much ass. Well that was enough on religion and politics. I went on to the comics and the obits.

My son and I cut down a Douglas Fir. A guy at work said they are the only trees he'll buy at Christmas. I stopped at work to get my old tattered copy of The Fellowship of The Ring. I saw the movie at Thanksgiving and went home and read The Hobbit in three days. It's been 25 years since I read this stuff. We also stopped at the grocery store. I bought a can of KMX and after sipping that was soon feeling right and proper.

We put the tree on the front porch till we put it up later. My son needed a ride over to his friend's house so they could practice. They're forming a band, punk rock. I went out to Sears to get a battery for my truck. It sounds like if it doesn't turn over on the first try I won't get another chance. No sense in pissing around with Old Man Winter lurking around the corner. I wandered into the electronics department and saw all the latest televisions. The new plasma screen TVs. They are only a few inches thick and the picture is damn near real. They are taking 1000 dollars off the suggested retail price. Only $6999.99 installed.

I had a grocery list for Aldi's. My son says everything in there is diseased. Wait till he has to pay his own bills. And to the Dollar Store for a few more things. I spent the whole day running around in the truck.

I've only had it for a couple of months. It was my dad's. He left it to me. He used to run around all day in it too. He did repair work on gas appliances and a pile of other jobs. But he never went to the library. And that's where I went to get a better copy of The Fellowship of the Ring. I helped my neighbor move some furniture when I got home. I picked up my son and we had supper and then I took him to his cousin's house. When I got home I had to leave again to go to my mother's house. She had something for me and it couldn't wait.

When I got there she handed me a present. An early Christmas present. I laughed and she asked me if I knew what it was. I said no but it has to have something to do with the game tomorrow. My brother got me a ticket to the Pittsburgh Steelers football game. I opened it up and it was a Steelers sweatshirt. Cool. I've never been to a pro-football game so I'm really looking forward to it. Even though I have a Bears plate on the front of my truck, the Steelers are my favorite team. I've got a yellow Terrible Towel that I can actaully use now. Don't tell anyone but my son was using it to polish his snowboard last week.

I hung out with mom for a couple hours now that she's all alone. I had phone calls to return when I got home and I finally got the tree up. I like to take my time doing stuff like that. It is in the stand, staight and plumb with no guy wires or other crutches. So I'd better get to bed. My brother is driving down from Erie to pick me up in the morning. We never did get all that snow, just some slush. Hopefully we can find a couple of tailgate parties to crash.

Towards the end of a long night, a gender-mixed group of seven people in my living room are engaged in a spirited discussion regarding what to do next. Another movie? (But what could possibly top Caddyshack?) Turn in early? A stirring round of Kill Dr. Lucky? Hydra-like, as each proposal is met with a noise of accord two more rise to shoot it down. So she opens her mouth and out it comes:
"Let's all have group sex!"

That's one way to get the attention of a room full of people! A silence follows that I would describe as stunned, save that I have reason to believe that each of our pauses were motivated by distinctly different considerations. I visualise the room as a stretched comic strip, portraying a frozen moment in time as the announcement is made at the left and individual thought bubble responses emerge from six potentially-reader-identifiable(-as) silhouettes to the right:

  • Offended: What, I'm not enough for her?
  • Calculating: Five male + two female = ... poor gender ratio for me and my tender mucous membranes.
  • Strategizing: The only room in this house large enough to host such an activity, the one we are in, features a large and unblocked picture window facing out on to the street.
  • Rationalizing: Ew. Ick. If only there was some way for me to buy in to this without having to see my friends naked...
  • Pragmatic: That's it, I'm bringing her to liven up the next staff party!
  • Skeptic: Right, this from the person who got upset when the cat started affectionately kneading her leg.
Our independent streams of thought feed into the same waterfall. The moment thaws, uneasy laughter floes tumble, twirl, and are dashed into titters on the rocks below. The conversation continues without skipping (another) beat. She does not seem overly put out by the fact that no one seems to be weighing her suggestion with the gravity with which it was pronounced. No one quashes it, for in fact no one even acknowledges it. Ha ha, we get to go internally, no, I didn't take it seriously for even a second. Did you? I can't wait to see what she yells in a crowded theatre!

in our last episode... | p_i-logs | and then, all of a sudden...

The strangest conversation I have ever had with my girlfriend

My girlfriend (GF) lives several hours away from me. We talk on the phone every night. I am going to be seeing her for 3 weeks starting next on Thursday. Near the end of tonight's conversation she asked me about masturbation, and suggested that I should start masturbating more frequently to enhance our experience once she saw me. As the conversation was wrapping up, this exchange occurred:

GF: Ok, you can go masturbate, but don't think about me. Me: What? Well who am I supposed to think about then? GF: (said with completely straight tone) Monkeys. Me: WHAT?????
Needless to say, I laughed my fucking ass off at which point I called her gross and hilarious, she then proceeded to advise me to fantasize about my warm palm before eventually giving me permission to think about her.

This is, without question, the strangest and funniest conversation I have ever had with my girlfriend.

Whatever happened to Saturday night?

Woken at 7:30 in the morning by a cat meowing outside my bedroom door for no particular reason. A pot of strong coffee and a good breakfast took care of my hangover and the temptation to drop-kick said cat into the next county.

Looking over an e-mail I sent last night:

hah...I'm a loser...my Saturday night action is drinking gin and tonics and talking to the cats

It would be funnier if it weren't true. My ex-girlfriend (to whom I wrote that e-mail) met Lou Reed this weekend. My roommate was nowhere to be found. Me, I was...well...drinking gin and tonics and talking to the cats.

It could be worse. The cat may actually have done me a favor by waking me up early, since tomorrow, I start my new job.

I've been out of work since October, and now that I've managed to spend several consecutive weeks in the same city, I've been actively looking again. My plan is to save up some money and then fuck off back to Honolulu, where the cost and quality of living are both much higher than here.

Until Friday the 13th I'd had no success. A typical reply to my e-mailed resume read about like this:

Thank you for applying for the position of part-time apprentice jizz-mopper's assistant. We have had over 6,000,000 applications and expect many more. Should we decide that your application merits the continuation of the hiring process, we will contact you. We wish you the best of luck with your search for employment.

So I started to get a little discouraged. Then, out of the blue, a good friend of mine arranged an interview with this guy he does consulting work for. We hung out with him, and over lunch he made the offer. I played it cool and allowed as how I might be able to take time out of my busy schedule to hack on some things for him.

I start tomorrow. I'm going to be a professional computer programmer again. I've been saying how I wanted to branch out and try other fields of work, but I'm not really qualified for anything else except unskilled labor or general clerical work, both of which I've done plenty of in the last few months. There being a glut of warm bodies in the job market right now, my chances of getting even those types of work are (were) slim.

So twist my arm, I'm just going to have to be rich again. If I decide I have a calling to do something else, at least I'll be able to afford tuition.

I am a lowly novice here.

I am reading through stand/alone/bitch's write ups and wondering where she's been these last 10 months. Did she abandon her handle and assume a new identity? How nice it would be if it were that easy here in my world.

I am far from the one that I love. So far.

I am mostly incapable of writing here the fluid thoughts that play through my head constantly while on the bus, walking the dog, sitting in the sun.

I am frustrated.

I am the beaten path.

Why have my next door neighbours tarped off their backyard??

It started Friday afternoon, with a frantic flurry of activity that lead their family of 6 into unusual harmony of cooperation. There was hardly any voices raised in disagreement, only when they needed to be heard. The three boys and dad strained on the ropes, as directed by mum and eldest daughter.

I watched in secret - my voyeuristic nature all abuzz with what the weekend was to unfold.. which one was having a party, and why? I have often been the holder of parties, often late and loud. But I have NEVER had neighbours hold a party. How exciting! Would their music irritate me? Would they keep me awake all night? ahh.. to find out!

It was strange, I was half hoping that they would invite me, but I doubted it.. maybe I should have been nicer and invited them to my things... NAH!!

So Saturday rolls around there was activity in the backyard.. normal neighbour sounds, "MUUUM ?? ... DAD BLAh blah blah, blah?", music, and banging noises... Laughter. No party..

Come Saturday night, my usual friends had arrived and the usual swing of a sat night had taken place; a few drinks; a few drugs; and smiles all round... the Neighbours ? No noise! HMMMmmmmmmmmmmm thought I. Tomorrow! yes! during the day! I briefly wondered if they would block my driveway with cars - I always make sure that my friends don't block their driveway.

Sunday turns up. morning, lunchtime, afternoon and now I write this in the late evening. Nothing! We had a little rain, and wind, but the tarps have held together quiet well. The patchwork of different blues, and duct tape is intriguing - What have they got under there? what are they doing? why have they closed their backyard off from overhead view??

Ted’s driving suit lay draped across the chair, his driving gloves carefully arranged on the seat, his helmet upon the adjacent table. Four picture displays stood arranged on the wall. I crowded in to look.

So many images of my friend Ted watching as Tim torques down the head of his new racing engine. Ted’s old stock car, for when he had drop the ‘ski’ from his name at NASCAR tracks. Ted grinning, cigarette dangling from his fingertips. Ted with his girlfriend, who unfortunately had to find his body.

The memories move on and on, telling a story of a rich life, a life full of friends and pleasure. I am in none of those photos, though I counted him a friend, as he did me.

I joined the SCCA on a whim, after watching a death struggle of an H Production race at The Runoffs in 1998. Six weeks later I received my first copy of The Observer’s Stand, the magazine produced by what I realized was my region, which would later write for. I noticed something called a ‘socializer’. Presumably that meant I was invited, so I decided to attend.

I knew nobody. Not one solitary soul, and everyone seemed to know anyone else. I sat at the table, ate my burrito and listened.

To the stories. These men and women were racers. It was the winter, so they talked about car preparation, how the new fiberglass fenders had helped shed 300 pounds but the car was still 200 pounds overweight. About the car they’d just bought, and was there a better way to get some negative camber into a mid eighties mustang.

Then an older man with a white beard and a cigarette in his left hand asked who I was. His speech was slightly disjointed, the result of what I later learned was a stroke. I introduced myself and explained how I had joined at The Runoffs. He told me his name was Ted.

We talked for a while and then a slim woman came over to chat with Ted. I met Jude that night. Later Phil, and Ken, and several other people whose names I would not remember for a long time, or they mine, but I now count as friends.

In the worker’s camper area at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course, Louie Beal and his wife Suzy keep a trailer. The awning is spread wide and decorated by Christmas lights though it is summer. They and the campfire light the trees in ghostly golden glow. Ostensibly, the fire for the corner workers, the men and women of Lake Erie Communications, but everyone is always welcome, and most know it. Men and women sit around the fire, sharing stories, and sipping drinks, either from coolers or the occasional flask.

This is where we party when the main cookout has died down. Race teams mostly return to the paddock, where they keep their trailers and cars. A few people go home. Some hold their own, smaller parties. But most race workers end up around that particular campfire and trailer, because they know the fire will blaze and the beer almost always cold.

I decided I needed to contribute. I own a large wheeled cooler, and I can’t stand Miller Light, the beer of choice at Mid Ohio, for the practical reason that Miller sponsors many track events. I prefer beer with actual flavor. Porter stouts or amber ales. Rich beer with enough body to fill Jeri Ryan’s Starfleet uniform. When I come to fire I drag my cooler behind. I plopped down at a picnic table. Ted was there, and grateful for something with actual taste. We talked about the days racing, an epic battle for the lead in ITB with seven cars running nose to tail.

Ted had raced ITB. We talked about how the cars were prepared, and all the cheating that goes on. Yes, people cheat in racing. It’s almost a sport, a game played between winning and ‘getting caught’. The line between 'creative intepretation' and 'twisting the rules into a pretzel' is fine indeed. Ted asserted that one of the guys up front ran a motor that wasn’t even close to legal, as he had left Ted’s car in a cloud of dust, back when Ted’s car had an engine. Ted wasn’t mad about this, it was simply part of the game. If he could have afforded the same motor, he’d have run it.

For the next three years, almost every weekend Ted and I ended up at that or another picnic table, or easy chair. Sipping beer, the occasional whiskey, or some other concoction, telling lies. He was there for New Years and Roland’s 24 hours of Daytona party. He helped give Racer Phil the inflatable sheep with pink garters. When I pulled my ITB car into the lane at Funder Alley, a race car show for charity, Ted looked it over carefully, pointing out places where I could shed a little weight. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was really giving it full tech inspection, trying to make sure the car was safe for me to race. But he smiled at me proudly, because he could see the pride I felt for my new race car, and the upcoming racing career I approached with both fear and anticipation. He lobbied for me to take my first driver’s school at IRP, suggesting the he could ask to have me as his student.

After I crashed he was blunt, that I’d screwed up. He hadn’t wanted me to run that race, feeling I wasn’t ready. Events proved him correct. But he also realized that wreck shattered my confidence. He saw just how much it had hurt me. So he lobbied for me to get a new car, suggesting this car or that one, all good cars, all reasonably priced. I could have bought a couple of good ITB cars for reasonable prices, and when I didn’t go for those he found me something even cheaper, though no where near the bargain. Ted understood that what I needed was to get back onto my horse.

He looked after me in many ways. When he realized I hadn’t really dated since a bad relationship, he fixed me up, suggesting this person, or that dating site. We had dinner and watched races together. We met at parties. Ted became my friend.

There are many pictures that never get taken. Life is a series of interconnected moments, like the frames on a motion picture. Perhaps some are not significant, but the smallest moment may prove significant. Friendships don’t come in a flood; they build in small ways, little interactions that build to a greater sum over time. So that when you see your friend you smile because his or her mere presence makes the day something to look forward to.

As I looked at the pictures of Ted’s life. I could feel the tears coming. Not for Ted, who’s probably sharing a drink with Innes Ireland right now. Mine were selfish tears, because I realized I wouldn’t be in any new snapshots, that he would never again grace the campfire, or find me another race car worth buying. About the stories I hadn’t yet told him. It was harder to look, but harder to look away.

Kirsten stopped us to make an announcement. We were meeting at Speeds, a local indoor go kart track much appreciated by us SCCA types. We need a place to go fast in the off-season, and Speeds isn’t the joke that Malibu Grand Prix was. You get to race wheel to wheel, and the track is almost a half mile long, long enough to have some fast sections. As in 45 MPH fast. Plus, it’s a lot cheaper than racing a car. Klaus let us have the room for free, and donated on free heat for everyone.

It’s a noble gesture. In fact, it’s the perfect gesture to honor a man who spent his entire life in racing, and made his best friends there. I feel myself pulled. There are some awfully fast people signing up, many who have competed at The Runoffs. And my confidence has never recovered from my accident at Summit Point. Deep down, I really wonder if I can drive. But Ted never stopped trying to get me back in a car. He would be disappointed if I didn’t drive. For him, I take a sheet and sign up.

A few minutes later I am in my kart. Front row, center, pole position. I have Sue to my left and Brian behind me, and both have qualified for the Runoffs. And we’re doing something special, a pace lap to honor Ted. As pole sitter, I have to control the pace. And everyone will be watching.

Great.

I slowly roll out trying to maintain a slow and careful pace. It works fine in the faster sections of the track, but as the turns get tight I discover something. Karts have locked rear ends. Just like my old IT car. The driving wheels move at exactly the same speed, all of the time. Which means it simply will not turn at all unless the power is on,. I can’t go as slow as I like. I have to speed up to get through the corners, and more importantly, so everyone else can.

On the other hand, that piece of knowledge just told me how to drive these karts. I may use the brakes, but I must use the gas.

Slowly we move up to the starting line, in a perfect staggered formation. Ted would have been pleased. I see the starter leaning forward with the flag.

Sue takes off. Brian hits me from behind. I’ve been flagging too long, waiting for the flag when a more experienced driver would have recognized that lean and mashed the gas. Right away, I'm passed twice by people who were already accelerating.

One of them looks really smooth. He’s been here before, that much is obvious. Best to tuck in behind him and learn the course, where to brake, where to place the kart. But then we get to the first really slow turn, a hard ninety-degree right-hander that begins an S- turn. He brakes, I reach for my brakes.

Oops wrong foot. I’m too used to braking with the right foot, and reach for a pedal that isn’t there. I push with the left foot too late. Now I'm spinning. I sit helplessly as everyone motors by. With everyone watching.

But they are by, and now I can concentrate on driving, learning the track. And this kart. The clutch is slow to engage, so if you lose too much speed it will take seconds before the power comes on. Braking too hard will rotate the rear end, and long years have trained my right foot rather than the left.

But if I can control that rotation I might be able to gain a bit around the three really tight corners.

Either way, it’s time to drive. Mash that gas pedal, and keep the right foot planted. I turn in for the fast first turn and feel the gee force builds and then a slow release as I play out the steering. Drift to the outside to set up for the next. Speed, delicious speed comes up, sending adrenalin through my body. The motor pounds. The wheel twitches between my fingers, and the kart leaps ahead. I begin to recognize corners, prepare brake points.

I’m going fast now, starting to feel what the kart is doing. The faster I go, the easier it gets.

I turn a bit late and drift out at full throttle. The wall comes up, and I hit it, but not hard enough to lift. Keep that throttle planted boy, turn out to set up for the next left, Brake now, and turn, turn, hold that wheel then slowly release it as the power comes up. Let her drift left, and then now hard right again, gas mashed all the way to the floor.

The laps build and I pass Brian, spun out to my right.

Up ahead of me, growing larger, I see . . . a victim.

I watch him as I close, trying to learn his ways. He’s braking too early and trying to finesse his way around the corner. But this isn’t a formula ford with a limited slip differential and six hewland gears. It’s a kart, and it likes its neck wrung a bit. I’m on the power earlier and accelerating harder, Most of all, I’m carrying more speed out of the corner. It’s a matter of time.

I close up on him and decided to take him on the inside of a left right combo. He hears me behind him pushing him hard, and tries a bit too hard. The result is a quick snap spin.

Right in front of me.

I slam on the brakes barely catching my own rear end. My kart stops inches from his. He takes off first, and I have to let him go, waiting for my clutch to catch. But he’s mine, and we both know it. Slowly the speed comes up and I slip the car. We’re at another of those hard esses and this time I brake really late and mash the gas the moment I feel the rear end break loose.

The kart skitters around and I’m off, gaining speed. Another hard left again, and this time I have him, cutting inside and braking in the middle of the curve. The rear end steps out as planned but I catch it with the throttle, my kart aimed straight down the track. I’m ahead.

Unfortunately the oversteer move has cost me too much speed. The engine revs dropped too low. He’s on the gas sooner and starting to pull ahead. But not far enough. I’ve got the inside line going onto the next corner, and I’m not lifting. We head down the chute. He hits the brakes sooner, and I’m by.

The sound of his kart falls back and I spot another ahead. I want him, and resume the chase. And from above, I feel Ted smile.

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