Try as we might, my teenage sons and I could not make my wife see the educational, patriotic and spiritual value of my taking the two boys to the demolition derby one night.
"Demolition derby is the most American of sports!" I explained. "Where else do you combine car wrecks, beer and men with welding torches? Well, aside from rush hour in Birmingham?"
She arched one eyebrow.
"Yeah, Mom," said the boys. "We're talking 3,500-pound bumper cars! Belching smoke! Crumpling steel! And all served up in the casual elegance of a county fair!"
She barely looked up from her magazine.
Boy, did she miss out.
The boys learned history! Where else can you watch a 1976 Ford LTD like the one you borrowed for the prom continually ramming its grill into a 1973 Olds Toronado like the one your high school principal drove?
They felt a surge of patriotism! Where else is the American tuna boat still king? The 1964, '65 and '66 Chrysler Imperials are so indestructible some demo derbies have banned them. You think the derbies have banned any damned Subarus?
They practiced math! We witnessed the destruction of 57 cars (total blue book value: $938). We thrilled to spine-tingling action with 5,000 other derby-lievers (total teeth: 12,874). We enjoyed a nourishing dinner of corn dogs, pork chop sandwiches and fried ice cream (total vegetables: 0).
There was romance! After the second heat, driver Loren Campbell married one of his crew members, Amanda Smallwood. She was dressed in a white taffeta gown, her train dragging molten car parts. Following the ceremony the groom hopped into a grotesquely misshapen 1966 Chevy Impala in time for the third heat. Typical groom. Soon as it's over, he's out getting smashed.