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I’m With Stupid – February 14, 2014

by Todd Hartley

Todd Hartley-smallHappy Valentine’s Day, honey! All right, enough of that crap. Let’s move on. I’ll be playing funk love songs on KDNK from 2 to 4 this afternoon, but other than that, I won’t acknowledge this insipid holiday.

I mean, obviously I’ll get my son treatment for the carpal tunnel syndrome he acquired from signing the dozens of meaningless, store-bought valentines he was forced to give his classmates, but other than that, we won’t be talking about Valentine’s Day.

We will, however, be talking about my son, who turned 7 last weekend. Actually, we’ll mostly be talking about one of the presents he got for his birthday, but we’ll use him as the catalyst.

For you see, my son has been obsessed with all things engine-related since the day he arrived on this planet.

At the age of 6 months, he had a signature move wherein he’d throw a toy car off his tray at a restaurant and get a cute waitress to pick it up and return it to him. His favorite movie is either “Cars” or “Cars 2,” depending on when you ask him, and in his short life he probably has done 10,000 paintings or drawings of cars, trains, boats, planes, spaceships or trucks and about 20 paintings or drawings of other stuff.

So what would be the perfect gift for a kid like that?

You guessed it: Monster Jam at the Pepsi Center!

Oh, yeah.

Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with Monster Jam, the best way to describe it is to say it’s the most awesome thing ever — kind of. It’s a one-ring circus of motor madness, with monster trucks, racing ATVs and flying, flipping motorcycles, all of which is totally awesome; it’s just that the one ring it’s all taking place in is kind of small.

The arena’s size, or lack thereof, wasn’t a big deal for the wheelie contest, motorcycle jumping and ATV races, but the freestyle competition and monster-truck races didn’t fare quite so well.

The freestyle competition, to me, seemed a little hampered by the fact that there was only one jump and a mere eight crushable cars that already were crushed by the wheelie contest.

And the race? You know how NFL prospects are judged based on their times in the 40-yard dash? The trucks at Monster Jam weren’t even going that far. Seriously. They were going about half the length of a basketball court before slamming on the brakes to avoid crashing into the other trucks. When adjusted for the fact that these were giant vehicles and not giant humans, they were doing the equivalent of a 5-yard dash. It was kind of hysterical.

But the fans, my family included, loved it. It really was great, even for someone like me, who has basically never given a rat’s patootie about cars and trucks. (My son inherited the trait from my father, a former investment banker who retired to become a trucker.)

The crowd was pretty interesting, too, although I couldn’t help but notice a certain lack of diversity. Monster Jam’s fan base apparently consists almost entirely of white and Latino families, and I don’t mean to stereotype or anything, but they all seemed to be of the crimson-naped variety. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with that; I’m just saying that a middle-aged ski bum like me seemed slightly out of place.

Thankfully, being male, I wasn’t quite as out of place as my wife, what with her elite East Coast college education, lack of neck tattoos and hair that was still vaguely the same color that God intended.

But she had a great time, too, even if much of it was derived vicariously through our son. And for me, Monster Jam definitely fulfilled the mission of squeezing more joy out of life that I alluded to last week. I felt like a kid again.

The next day, still feeling like a kid, I skied Aspen Mountain and took the most entertaining fall of my life.

I got cocky and skied too fast, missed a turn, tumbled through some bushes that evidently were guarding the top of a hole and found myself dangling upside down by one leg in the mouth of a mine shaft. And no, that’s not hyperbole; that actually happened. I may get into that story next week, but for the time being, let me assure you it was pretty awesome.

I mean, it was no Monster Jam or anything, but it was way cool.

Todd Hartley thinks Grave Digger kicks Max D’s butt! 

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