There are times when I truly believe I am cursed. Call it Life's Little Ironies or just more proof that God doubles as a stand-up comedian, but twists of fate seem to follow me around like a lost puppy.
When I was in college, lo those many years ago, I lived in a small Southwest Virginia town almost exactly between the Bluefields and the Bristols.
For those who are not familiar with the area, Bluefield is cut in half by the state line, hence there is a Bluefield, Va. as well as a Bluefield, W.Va., even though it's pretty much the same town. The same situation occurs down in Bristol.
The irony here is that while Bristol is home to one of the most exciting tracks in NASCAR Winston Cup competition, at the time I didn't see the appeal of auto racing.
There are two Winston Cup races held at Bristol each year, and somebody at my school always had extra tickets.
"Why would you want to go see a bunch of guys drive fast and turn left?" was my standard answer when asked if I wanted to attend.
Again, the irony is that not long after I left Virginia, I became absolutely addicted to NASCAR.
I actually have a countdown to the Daytona 500 (not counting today, there are 25 days left).
The majority of my non-work clothing now consists of NASCAR drivers.
My living room is a virtual tribute to Bobby Labonte and Tony Stewart.
I have been looking forward to Daytona and the start of the 2000 season since the NASCAR awards banquet in December.
I am sure my wife is looking forward to the new season as well, but for different reasons.
There are only so many times you can watch a taped race and I think I've exceeded that limit. A lot.
I've got Tony Stewart's first two wins on tape, and it's gotten to the point that my wife can breeze through the room and tell which race I'm watching and how far in it is at just a glance.
At first, my addiction was gradual.
I would watch a race every now and then, and probably not even the whole thing. Because I'm also a Washington Redskins fan, the obvious choice for a driver was whoever was driving the number 18 Interstate Batteries car, since former coach Joe Gibbs is the team owner.
But since that time, my addiction has become overwhelming. I don't know what to do with myself on Sundays when there's no race. The off-season is like a huge void when I hunger for any scrap of news.
While I started collecting just Bobby Labonte die-cast cars, now my shelves are crammed with cars from several drivers.
When Ernie Ervin retired, I snatched up as many of his cars as I could.
Kenny Schrader's changing teams? Grab 'em. No more number 10 Tide Ride? I've got at least four.
New sponsorship for the Petty Enterprises number 43 car? Sacrilege, but I've got 'em.
To me, Petty without STP is like peanut butter without jelly, hot dogs without relish, bagels without ... well, you get the picture. It's just not right.
So what's the point of this rant?
Why did I finally develop an affection for NASCAR when I'm nowhere near a track? Life's Little Ironies.
And don't even get me started on the lack of interest in hockey around here. That's a rant for another day.