BEST OF JODY’S BOX: A MYTHICAL EGYPTIAN DEMON SERPENT IS COMING TO PLOW A NEW TRACK IN POUGHKEEPSIE

Photo by Debbi Tamietti

By Jody Weisel.                                                                        

Several months ago astronomers announced that a giant asteroid was streaking cataclysmically towards planet Earth. According to their calculation, this 1100-foot wide chunk of interplanetary debris named “Apophis” traveling at 45,000 mph, stood a pretty good chance of impacting smack dab in the middle of one of the 38,000 McDonald’s fast food joints on the planet (they couldn’t predict exactly which one it would hit, but with 4500 of them in China alone, it’s best to go to the Beijing Taco Bell that day).

 

There was one catch! The Apophis was first discovered in 2004, and has been swirling around ever since—to date it hasn’t hit anything. It was predicted that it’s soonest chance of hitting earth will be on April 13, 2029, but if it misses it would not get a second whiff until 2068.

 

I must say that when the news of Apophis’ impending doom was announced, mankind took it rather calmly. Jimmy Mac noted the April 13, 2029, date in his Day Planner (canceling out a haircut he had already penciled in for that day) and made a note not to order a new Day Planner for 2029 (a savings of $42.95—in 2023 dollars). But most people look at the never ending news cycle of doom and gloom with little more than a yawn. After all, we’ve been waiting since 2004 and 20 years is a long time to wait for extinction. Most people predictably decided to put off doing anything about it until Apophis blots out the sun on it’s way to crashing into the giant electric car battery fire on the 405 freeway that had started in 2028 with one car, but spread to 3013 of them when all of their batteries overheated from running their air conditioners on a 100-degree day (which was the coolest day of 2028).

 

“END OF THE WORLD STUFF MYSTIFIES ME! I SUFFER ANY LOSS POORLY (AND, OF COURSE, THIS INCLUDES ALL CARBON-BASED LIFE).”

 

Isn’t it amazing! The world is coming to an end and not a single person is running rampant through the streets. There isn’t even a Franklin Mint Commemorative Apophis coin. There is more interest in what Taylor Swift plans to when Apophis arrives, than how deep a hole to dig. End of the world stuff mystifies me! I suffer any loss poorly (and, of course, this includes all carbon-based life).

 

I remember when Saddleback Park was rumored to be closing (the motocross equivalent of a global catastrophe). My friends and I started living there; we rode it everyday; raced three classes on the weekends; whined to anyone who would listen about the demise of civilization (what’s more civilized than a 900-acre motocross park ten minutes from Disneyland?) and, in the end, took a chainsaw out and stole the carved “Saddleback Park” sign.

 

I remember when Hodaka went out of business. Forget about asteroids, comets, earthquakes and tsunamis—Hodaka was “motocross” to thousands of American teenagers in the 1970s. Hodakas sold for $495. They were bulletproof. Anybody who was anybody in 1970s motocross started on a Super Rat. It was the ultimate entry-level off-road motorcycle. Along with Tommy Croft and Cordis Brooks, I had enjoyed a sponsored bike-and-parts ride with the Oregon-based company. True, Tommy, Cordis and I had left Hodaka for higher paying gigs by the time they went belly-up, but we still loved the chrome toasters. In hindsight, the impact of Hodaka’s demise was greater than the threat of an asteroid named after a mythical Egyptian demon serpent plowing a new Grand Canyon from Florida to New York. We can always rebuild Poughkeepsie, New York, but we will never get inexpensive dirt bikes back again.

 

I’M NOT A EUROPHOBE, BUT IT’S COMFORTING TO THINK THAT THERE IS A 2.7 PERCENT CHANCE THAT NO ONE WILL BE DRIVING ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE ROAD AFTER 2029.

 

I remember racing in Sweden, Finland and Austria is 1982 and vowing that I would never go back to Europe again. I may be educated. I may be cosmopolitan. I may be well traveled. But I’m way too American to spend any time on a continent where the cars don’t have cupholders. I’m not a Europhobe, but it’s comforting to think that there is a 2.7 percent chance that no one will be driving on the wrong side of the road after 2029.

 

I remember losing a lot of races. For some reason they are more unforgettable than the ones I’ve won (they are also more numerous). There is a learning curve involved in losing, while winning has a finality to it. I felt pity for Jett Lawrence during his phenomenal 2022-2023 seasons. Why? Because it is inevitable that it had to come to an end eventually—the same can’t be said for my losing streak. There is nobility in my effort. My worst fear is that I will be out front and pulling away when some cockamamie asteroid causes the planet to spin off its axis when I am 20 feet away from the checkered flag.

 

While a head-on collision with an uninsured asteroid has its downside, it has a nice ring to it. The inevitability of death (especially non-racial, classless and universal death) gives meaning to life. It’s guiltless. It quite simply means that all the knobby tracks I’ve scarred the earth with, fossil fuel I’ve burned, rubber I’ve shredded and people I’ve knocked down are all finally part of the same eight ball in the sky (obviously the Apophis asteroid is the cue ball). If I have to go, let me and the spotted owl go together.

 

I heartily embraced April 13, 2029…or I would have, but a few days later the astronomers announced that they had miscalculated and the Apophis asteroid would never get closer than 19,794 miles from earth. That’s not so far, at least according to the Supercross and National motocross promoters, because that is how many miles a privateer had to drive the race the 2023 AMA Pro season.

 

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