Traverse City Record-Eagle

Body & Soul

June 30, 2012

Adapted in TC: Awkward and winning times

I really needed a bed weekend.

After the work week I'd had, I needed a weekend to lounge in bed in my comfy shabby pj's, read books and magazines, sleep, eat great take-out food, watch movies, sleep some more, cover my face in a creamy mint green mak, whip my hair up like Pebbles Flintstone and chill out.

Saturday morning, before I announce my desires, my husband Tom comes bounding into the bedroom.

"I really want to go to the St. Ignace Car Show and Muscle Car Mania at the Cheboygan Fairgrounds. If you drive up there with me, I'll make it fun. I promise."

I study his face, he is so earnest.

I so don't want to go.

Oddly, believing I'm incognito in old workout clothes, no makeup/sunglasses, hair shoved into a summer hat, I fantasize that if I go, I'll have some semblance of the weekend I'd planned.

Finding our seats in the partially covered fairground bleachers, we quickly see that the place is packed.

At the far front area of the grassy field there is a very large ramped concrete stage. In timed intervals, various cars and trucks are chained at each axel to iron bars in the stage and attempt to burn down their tires.

At times, the smoke from the burnouts is so strong that folks have pulled their shirts and blouses over their faces so they can breathe. The noise from the cars is deafening. People are coughing and cheering. The announcer reminds the audience to stay put, the drawings for the raffle prizes is coming up, including the grand prize — an all-expense trip to Las Vegas!

Tom and I are laughing and shaking our heads in amazement.

Just then, I hear a small girl child yell, "Look mom and dad, there's our therapist!"

I turn towards the voice and see one of my client families. The husband is in disbelief. This is his event and seeing his "wife's therapist" as he refers to me, is a major buzzkill.

At this point, some of the crowd is leaving; the smoke has gotten to them. As they walk past us, one man resembling Evil Knievel hands me his raffle tickets and wishes me luck.

At the end of the burnouts, it's time for the drawings. We both have several tickets. We're trying to decide if we should stay.

As each number is called, we quickly check our handful of tickets. Nothing. We're ready to go.

The path to the exit is now jammed with people and, as I wait, I recheck my bouquet of tickets. The announcer keeps repeating the numbers for the grand prize. I'm stunned. One of my tickets has the winning number. I yell to get Tom's attention and pull him close to me, whispering that I've won. He tells me I must be wrong and continues walking. I look at it again; the announcer urges the winner to come forward.

"Tom, stop!" I shout. "I have the winning ticket!" Now everyone near me is looking at us. He grabs the ticket and looks closely.

"I can't believe it!" he say. "Hold on to it really tight or put it in your bra, somewhere safe."

Again the announcer bellows, "Will the winner of the Las Vegas grand prize please come to the stage."

As I make my way through the littered grass and lingering haze of leftover smoke, the crowd slowly, repeatedly, chants, "She's in a wheelchair. Give her some time."

Suddenly there's a white spotlight on me. Everyone is on their feet cheering. My client husband looks like he's going to be sick.

I wheel up the long ramped concrete stage. The announcer gives me an envelope containing two airline tickets, a one-week hotel voucher and other goodies. He seems overjoyed that I've won.

Next, I'm asked to pose for photos with a nearly naked Miss Hawaiian Tropic and all of the Muscle Car winners and their five-foot trophies. As I freeze for the cameras, I look over into the wings and catch a glimpse of Tom convulsing with laughter.

P.S. Las Vegas was super! Nostalgia Productions was terrific. The 37th St. Ignace Car Show is going on this weekend. Call (906) 643-8087 or for details.

Sadly, there's no more muscle car mania.

Susan Odgers, a resident of Traverse City for the past 25 years, has used a wheelchair for 36 years. She is a faculty member at Northwestern Michigan College and Grand Valley State University. She can be reached via the Record-Eagle.

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