Pecan Pies and Whistling Kettles
Pecan Pies and Whistling Kettles (#4)
Former Jane’s Addiction front man Perry Farrell once asked, “What makes the kettle whistle?” In other words, “What sends your pleasure meter soaring into the stratosphere of your erogenous zone?” Opinions vary: For Perry, it was appearing on stage wearing only a sock. (Where do you think Flea got the idea?);
For Forest Gump, it is nothing more than a box of chocolates; former Cheer’s dimwit Woody Harralson’s kettle sings soprano whenever he partakes of the most excellent Pantagrulean weed; Baltimore Ravens’ middle linebacker Ray Lewis’s kettle screeches like a dozen wailing castrati whenever he plants his helmet into another player’s ribs (or whenever he stabs someone repeatedly with a butcher knife, although that may simply be the recipient of his pleasures howling a high pitched tune); for Fidel, a Cohiba cigar always did the trick, especially if he’s just shot another one of Batista’s stooges in the head; Muhammad Ali loved to bash an opponent’s brains in, and only received greater pleasure from two other activities—prophesizing about the beating beforehand and poeticizing about it after the fact; for the Marquis de Sade, only unspeakable horrors would suffice; and Robert Oppenheimer clapped like a circus walrus whenever he witnessed a mushroom cloud spill upwards into the air. But for the Zealots, the answer is easy: Wearing the Yellow jersey is the one and only thing that can send a 40 thousand watt electric charge sizzling down one’s spine (except, of course, the electric chair itself); just ask Boots, she’s been buzzing about town like a buzzed-off horsefly for almost a year now.
The kettles were whistling like 13 big red fire engines on the Monrovian Doctrine Classic on 24 December 2005 as 13 early contenders in this year’s Yellow jersey competition wrenched themselves free from the rest of the pack. Those resilient (but soon-to-be-single?) 13 Zealots who had attended all four events in WBL 2006 had now racked up a total of 10 points, building up a nice cushion on the December “no-sprint” rides. They were now all tied for the lead. Though the number of names on the leader board early in December was over 100, after the 4th event of WBL 2006, only a baker’s dozen remained at the top of the heap in what is shaping up to be a bloody fistfight for the Gold. With 1 more—the last—no-sprint ride next Saturday (31 December 2005: www.rideblue.com ), the 2 points on the line this weekend are crucial. The first sprint ride of 2006, the Atlantis Hydroponics Lula Double-Sprint Classic (www.atlantishydroponics.com ), should be a red carpet affair with enormous consequences. And in this season’s WBL, the women folk, those backbiting femmes fatales, are once again threatening to ride away with the golden egg. For the men, things couldn’t be worse, and there may not be a damned thing the good guys can do about it.
About 40 Christmas Eve Zealots signed in for the 4th event of WBL 2006 to celebrate Time’s birthday a day early, and to collect the 2 points on offer for the ride. The 13 soon-to-be-single-soldier-Zealots signing in for the 4th week running and securing a place on the top rung of the points ladder were: (1.) Erin Boots Winter, clopping about in patent leather cowgirl boots and threatening to become the first Overall victor to win it all for a second time; (2) & (3) the dangerous and despicable dark horse duo of Kari and Glenn Bradley; (4) former Yellow jersey winner SuperStarr Bridges, also slyly skulking about the premises looking for a 2nd season in Yellow; (5) Stephen Dean, a.k.a. Mr. Pennies, who has already shown his aleatoric skills are more than just a lucky throw of the dice; (6) Ken Mulligan, a.k.a. the Irishman, who predicts that either his lucky 4-leaf clover or his Haitian voodoo dolls complete with 12 inch stick pins will catapult him into first; (7) David Nixon, el Prezidente, who insists his strict diet of wild goat droppings, opossum eggs, skunk jerky and handpicked grasses gives him the edge when the rides move beyond the 4 hour barrier; (8) Matt Turbo Gentry, who must be considered a threat because of allegations his teammate, the lovely vixen Venus Saturday, will run right over anyone who flats or falters; (9) Tom Palmer, the WBL neophyte who is always in the boardroom bargaining for more points; (10) Micah Rice, the Big Bean, who’s new secret potion is an admixture of Jittery Joes’ caffeine and high octane cold beer; (11) the Big G Greg Somerville, who was also dubbed as the new pack shouter and is thus a legitimate contender; (12) Len 6 Hour Slote, who in year’s past would already be in Yellow with 1 more point as a result of riding to Dahlonega when everyone else “only went to Talmo”; (13) and Crowe, LLC, who has as much of a chance of winning this year as I, your faithful and humble Chronicler.
The 40-odd Zealots clipped and pushed off for the day’s adventure in high spirits. The sun was soaring in the clear blue sky like a saint, even though its heat was only half baked. The Zealots headed south today, positioning the wind at their backs right out of the gate. While waltzing through Watkinsville, the whole pack was pulled over, but when Don Newman dropped Carney’s name into the mix, the rookie officer slumped back into his car and raced off to ruin someone else’s day. There is no truth anyway to the allegation that the back half of the pack cannot ride two-abreast and is therefore a bunch of utter and complete Losers with a big, fat, ginormous capital L. “Why, there’s no truth at all, is there?” squeaked the Chronicler.
The group of hasty pedalers dashed through Oconee County and hammered for High Shoals and beyond. When the pack cruised across the foaming brown waters of the Oconee River at High Shoals, the riders bent back to the west towards Good Hope and Walton County. Now, the wind plastered their faces against their frontal lobe. They sailed under and between stretches of thick, leafless oaks and beside empty acres of dry and brittle cotton fields. At one point in the days peregrinations, several large crows sat on one thin, bending branch on the side of the road and squawked, “Caw caw caw (you bunch a bright colored dumbasses); caw caw caw.” To the south of Athens, where the Zealots found themselves on this fine day, the landscape is wide open and rolling, with only the occasional patch of forest. In this neck of the woods, a Zealot can usually see clear across a valley, from the top of one hummock to the next, which could be over 2 miles away. It’s more difficult to sneak up behind your enemy and stab him or her in the back in these parts. That may be why we lost The War. Besides being ignorant hayseeds.
The 40 Zealots rode roads that cut through the middle of dairy farms the size of a small community, and undulating pasture land that at places gently rolled like the big, blue ocean. In spite of the difficulties caused by the blustery wind, this hard-charging pack put its head down and pushed forward at a determined pace. They clipped along at a constant pace, never wavering from the task at hand. At the front, the Kid Jon Murphy lent a hand, a pair of lungs, as well as two legs to this group’s solid effort. Likewise did Doc Moye, Roberto Rivers, Nathan Thom, Jeffrey Shirey, Jake Brindle, Scott Hefner, Dustin Mealor, BDB Brian Matthews, not to mention special guest star Dr. Maggie Shirley, on sabbatical from N.Y.C.’s Columbia pre-med program to remind herself what pain felt like. “Now I remember,” she whispered out loud at the end of the day.
As the pack cut across Snow’s Mill Road and left the meandering hills of Walton County behind, the rays of the sun became stronger and stronger, penetrating deeper and deeper, and finally topping the balmy temperature of 50 degrees. But the wind did not relax. It blew and it blew and it blew. Once again, the Zealots found themselves having to put the bit between their teeth, put their shoulders to the wheel, square up, and push like hell. And once again, they did. The pain brought many a tears to the hardcore Zealots’ eyes.
The pack skimmed the eastern edge of Statham and sailed across the Bear Creek Reservoir. From there, they sprinted up the nasty and brutish Oconee River Wall where the quads of a few finally frazzled and went kerplizz. But this big hearted group was waiting for all stragglers, and after regrouping o’er the top of the rise, the Christmas Eve pack sailed in via the Tallasee Road and arrived back at Sunshine Cycles dead on the dime: 3 hours ride time, 19.5 miles per hour. This lusty pack was well-worked. They were all awarded with an E.D.S. certificate (Excellent Day in the Saddle). Life was mighty fine at that moment. It wasn’t until the post ride press conference that things went south, again.
At the post event press conference, several reporters pointed out that Aaron’s super speed demon Kari Bradley and current Yellow jersey wearer Erin Winter were in a dead draw for the overall lead, each with a tally of 10 points; and with the women’s only sprint coming up on 7 January 06, the Golden Fleece would be on the line. The Lula double-sprint ride would feature a sprint-within-a-sprint starring these two intemperate termagants. Though a few other scenarios could play themselves out, the winner of the sprint between these two lightning-fast ladies would more than likely go home in Yellow after Lula (assuming each of them lock and load the 2 points up for grabs on next week’s ride). After vocalizing this observation to the entire crowd, Winter began to fidget in her chair. Winter knew her leadout for the sprint would be critical.
“Hey Erin, if your counting on a leadout from your hubby, don’t you think it’s time for him to start training, maybe even drop a pound or three,” one reporter from Velo News shouted, he and his colleagues cackling like hyenas.
“He’s wearing a lot of layers today,” Winter shot back, glancing over at her husband Jeff in disgust. “It’s windy out there on the battlefield.” Shirey was on the fringes of the stage at the time polishing off a Stuckey’s Old Fashioned Mini Pecan Pie. He had found the treasure in his jersey pocket. It consisted of one inch of a glazed brown sugar-paste topped with 1 shredded pecan. It was packaged in its own little aluminum pan and looked just like an itty-bitty pecan pie. He didn’t even know it was there.
Shirey was oblivious to the fact his wife was presently holding him in utter contempt. He was thinking only of the precious little pie that was resting peacefully in the bottom of his belly, like the Titanic. Shirey remembered he had worn that jersey last summer and purchased the pie for half price at a Fast Eddie’s Food Mart. He glanced down at the expiration date on the empty wrapper—expired. Damn.
The women’s sprint finishes on the interminable Pink Church Hill (Pink Church finish line) which tilts upwards at an unfavorable angle, especially for any member of the fat boy brigade. Winter, an expert interviewee as result of her time in Yellow, attempted to deflect criticism and added, “Hey, what about Ms. Bradley’s other half, Glenn? He was driving the sag wagon today! What a patsy!”
“That’s because he’s tapering,” K. Bradley calmly replied, pursing her lips at a small handheld mirror. “Plus, look at that svelte figure he’s got. Twirl around for me hon.” Kari’s husband Glenn spun around on one foot a la Michael Jackson. It was true, his figure was svelte. “Now drop and give me 50!” She pursed her lips some more at the mirror while G. Bradley huffed and puffed on the floor.
Back at the corner of the stage, Shirey was busy sucking pecan glaze off his fingers. He was making a strange grunting noise through his nose. He was lost in his fingers.
“I’ll take a 6 pack of Bud, Tall Boys, for him,” Winter finally stated, looking at the roomful of people. She was calm, like someone in a bell tower who’s about to start shooting.
Dead Silence followed.
Then: “Can he cook and clean?”
“Yes.” She lied.
“Throw in one of them sweet little pecan pies and I’ll take him.”
Shirey was traded for 1 pecan pie and a 6 pack of Budweiser, Tall Boys.
As they were leaving the stage, Winter took a swipe at K. Bradley, but only grazed her chin. Opprobrium, billingsgate and invective were hurled back and forth between the two. To be perfectly honest, they both scared the hell out of me. I turned and scurried away.
When I reached the other side of the street, I turned around for one last look. Winter was headed up Washington Street with her sixer dangling from her bird finger. 5 Tall Boys bounced off her right leg with every stride she took. She was knocking back the 6th one. The Bradley duo of K and G. were headed back to Fulton County munching on a bag of carrots and some of Prez Nixon’s handpicked grasses he had insisted they take. “It will also ward off evil spirits,” he claimed. Fellow fat boy Crowe and Shirey were walking around the far corner of Sunshine, hand-in-hand. They each were holding a Stuckey’s Old Fashioned Mini Pecan Pie in their free hand. I rubbed my eyes to make sure I’d really seen what I thought I saw, but when I opened them again, they both were gone. I can’t really be sure.
Driving home, I was certain I heard a dozen or more kettles whistling. I was sure of that. All ain’t well in the WBL. Stay tuned.