Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My Oreo Odyssey

It all started at the race track, with me kicked back in a comfortably air-conditioned press box and seven or eight photographers outside dying.

Once upon a time, Winston Cup Scene was the force in the world of motorsports journalism. We had great writers and great photographers who worked together as best they could to provide the best coverage possible. During races, one writer would call the race for the photographers from the press box.

If there were pit stops coming up ... if there looked to be a wreck in the making ... if there was anything, ahem, interesting taking place in the infield ... it was the writer's sworn duty to let the photographers know about it so the shooters could be ready to fire away.

And that's where I screwed up, royally.

I do not remember the track, Charlotte, maybe, because Charlotte always had them stocked in the press box, but I'd grabbed a complimentary sleeve of Oreo cookies and was happily having at 'em. Outside, it was hotter than hot, dangerously so, miserably so. Upstairs, I was fine and dandy, cool as could possibly be, with the best view in the house.

As it turns out, however, it's hard to talk with your face crammed full of Oreos. I missed the wreck, and darn near choked trying to key my radio. The photographers got the shot or they did not, I honestly don't remember, but I was about to catch all kinds of grief. I deserved it.

"Hey, Rick ... where were you on that one?" some exhausted and sweat-soaked photographer called.

I could have lied ... maybe, just maybe, I should have lied ... but I did not. I made the mistake of telling those poor folks exactly what had happened.

"I've got a box of Oreos up here and I had my mouth full."

It was on. No one, not anyone who was there and actually heard my admission nor anyone else who got in on it as the legend grew, ever let me forget my transgression. From then on, when I happened to miss a call on the radio, the shots from down below began, "Sittin' up there on your (another word for "behind," rhymes with sass), nice and cool (or warm, depending on the time of the year), eating a (darn) Oreo ... Oreo ... Oreo. Oreo this, Oreo that."

My last race with Scene, I walked into the media center to find a jumbo bag of Double-Stuffed Oreo on my computer. That was about 80 pounds ago.

Here's the thing. Today, I was walking through the grocery store and found this little ol' gem ...

Sugar free? Oh, heck yeah. That's gotta be OK, right?!? Come to daddy!

Read the fine print, though, "Not a reduced calorie food." That was the first sign of trouble, and on the back was the rest of the story. Two cookies ... two lousy, stinkin' little bundles of hellfire and damnation ... mean 90 calories and five grams of fat. Doggone it, if I could stop at two cookies, I would've been able to see my feet a long time ago.

If I could stop at two cookies, I wouldn't have missed that stupid wreck.

This post is dedicated to Phil, Chad, Bambi, Bill A., Bryan, DK, Tim and every other photographer who ever snapped a shot for Winston Cup Scene.

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