I sat there and watched him eat popcorn. Watched the Hubble Telescope slide across his glasses from left to right, watched various images from deep space start as little dots on his lens, and as the dots grew on the IMAX screen, I saw the galaxies create shadows on his face.
K-Pink's face. The defending champion of this week's Alabama Charge on Pickwick Lake. And I thought it to be perfect, here we were, myself, K-Pink and his wife Kerry (who I call K2), on a day off, the day before official practice began, here we were, at a place where if you pay attention, everything is put in its rightful place. Playing above us in this IMAX dome thing ... the universe as photographed by the Hubble Telescope. And suddenly, Pickwick Lake didn't look so big after all. Nor did we. K-Pink is my best friend out here, the dude who fixes the things I break in the db/bb/rv while I'm out working a story, even though I never ask him to. I call K2 my older sister because out of the side of my eye I always see her making sure I'm OK ... know my wife, Barb, is glad she is here. So if you think I'm non-biased to these two, don't. Whenever I need to be grounded I walk outside and look straight up, to the stars. The heavens bring me back down to earth, can't be all big-shotty for long when you realize we are just a fleck in the soup that is the sky. I think any defending champion needs to walk outside and look to the sky. Put that win right there in the proper perspective for ya. Before you get all peacocked up in yourself, you need to come here to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala. ... get yourself a bite of some humble pie. Get some Right Stuff. Sure you can be in awe of the big Saturn rocket and the Space Shuttle, eat some of those Ice Cream Space Dot things, get spun in a centrifuge, slurp a blue slurpee while hearing of frozen comets, but to know of the vastness of space, you need to look at the little things. Touch a space capsule the size of a Barcalounger and wonder about the men who sat in it for TWO WEEKS with no room to move as it sped around the earth. Look at a space suit glove worn during the space race of the '60s and think to yourself you can buy better material than that right now in a Dollar General store. And you are the defending what ... You want pressure, go climb in a sardine can that sits atop what most people would consider an almost controlled bomb and listen to some dude a couple miles away for his safety say exactly this ... three ... two ... one ... And you being the ... GO.
Don Barone is an award-winning outdoors writer and a member of the New England Outdoor Writers Association and the Outdoor Writers Guild of the U.K. You can reach db at www.donbaroneoutdoors.com.