Blissful Ignorance

Like many coming of age American males, life was pretty much sports, cars and girls. S0 the Memorial Day weekend Indianapolis 500 covered two-thirds of my worldview.

Back then, the television broadcast of the Indy 500 was tape delayed. The actual race occurred in the afternoon and ABC would air it in the evening. Catching the tape delayed broadcast on the family black-and-white Zenith became a planned and subsequent memory-searing event. Mario Andretti in 1969, Al Unser, Sr. with back-to-back wins in ‘70 and ’71. Rick Mears jumping around his pit, literally on fire in ‘81.

Jim McKay, Jackie Stewart’s Scottish brogue and Chris Economaki in the pits.

In the Paleo-Internet Era, the trick was to stay away from the television, radio, phone calls and personal encounters with friends who had knowledge I did not want – the winner of the race.

Was it asking too much to simply enjoy the race broadcast as if it were live, without knowing the outcome? Funny, because I only feel that way about sporting events, not other forms of entertainment. I’ll re-read books and watch movies to the point where I’m quoting the dialogue (actual conversations, even) before it happens. 

Travolta wooing Karen Lynn Gorney on the streets of Brooklyn in Saturday Night Fever:

“... come on Stephanie, I can walk you...” 

Memorial Day 1983, I’m a young upwardly mobile professional mobile-ing (mobiling?) about Hays, Kansas in my 1981 red-over-black 2-door, 5-speed Toyota Corolla, sometime in the roughly 3-hour window after the Indy 500 has ended before the tape delayed broadcast begins.

For a reason that escapes me today, I felt compelled to turn on the radio.

Perhaps I wanted a weather forecast, though I doubt it, since then and now, I tend to just stick my head out the window. If it comes back in wet, I know it’s raining. Foolproof. Maybe I just had to hear The Human League crooning (Keep Feeling) Fascination one more time. 

Just looking for a new direction... in an old familiar way. 

Regardless, no sooner than I switched on the radio, two words emanate from the Realistic AM/FM/Cassette Stereo System (Radio Shacks caps.)

“Tom Sneva...”


Watched the tape-delayed race broadcast that night, but it was anti-climactic.

The thrill was gone.

The advent of digital video recording means if I don’t want to know the outcome, I gotta be even more disciplined about avoiding information. With the Internet at my fingertips, I am forced to take conscious action to remain ignorant.

I gotta work harder to stay dumb than I do to get smart.

These days, Jackie and I often record Royals games of an evening and watch ‘em an hour or so after the actual first pitch, fast forwarding through commercials for which advertisers have paid good money, with the specific, underlying intention that I will actually watch them.

Woops. Guess we need another marketing meeting.

Two current options I’m working though involve chucking the smartphone in a desert or ocean, though living in Kansas make those ideas somewhat problematic.