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Cleveland Diary:
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

Part Three -- The Ugly

They put all these cones up going into the first turn for the start of the race to try to alleviate a first lap pileup, and they end up causing a different kind of first lap pileup. Now, that was ugly.

The guy sitting in front of us with his shirt off and his body covered with tattoos. Now, that was really ugly.

The wife of the couple I stayed at in St. Catharines came to the race. She has been married to her husband, a big racing fan, for five years. Five blissful years. She hates racing. Hates the noise. Hates the smell. Yet, she was attending her first race, talked into it by her husband. I've seen plenty of racing fans try to convert their non-racing spouses. It rarely works. When it doesn't, it's always ugly.

However, to her credit, she played along quite well. She paid attention to the qualifying and racing, did not look to leave right away, and tried to follow the action throughout. Granted, she still did not like the noise nor the smell nor the heat nor the packed grandstands, and she will probably never attend another race in her mortal life. However, she admitted it wasn't the worse thing she experienced. More importantly, their marriage is still intact.

You know what's really ugly? Vinegar on french fries. Man, I don't know how the Canadians do it. I tried it once, many years ago. I was following the when in Rome philosophy. Never again. What was really amazing was the other female on our trip, a racing fan herself, absolutely could not fathom that Americans did not do this. Just couldn't understand nobody in America puts vinegar on their french fries. Had a hard time believing that you could not get vinegar packets at a McDonalds. She embarrassed me every time we walked into a restaurant and asked if anybody in America does the vinegar thing. Some people actually claimed they knew someone, but I think it was one of those urban legend things where nobody can actually name names.

You learn a lot while traveling with Canadians. Besides being about the nicest people and most gracious hosts around, they say some words funny. Not just schedule and process, but also decals. I never in my wildest imagination could have come up with the way they pronounce decals. It's kind of like deck-alls.

You also learn that a Canadian, born and raised in the Great White North by Canadian parents, can have a proper English accent. No matter how much she denies it.

The trip back home was uneventful until we were within sight of my hosts' house in St. Catharines, whereupon we got stuck at a drawbridge. A massive cargo ship, probably carrying iron ore, was slowly, and I mean s-l-o-w-l-y making its way through. Quite a disparity from the Champ Car race we witnessed earlier. It took so long that everybody was getting out of their cars to watch this event. I quickly learned that this is one of the major attractions in this town as folks on the other side of the canal were lining the banks with their lawn chairs to take in this riveting piece of entertainment.

Cleveland and The Flats this most certainly was not.

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