“This is a piece of the Berlin Wall,” I told Mark. We were in my garage, wiggling bikes out of a labyrinth to go
to a Big Six race. He was clearly uninterested in what I considered an amazing tidbit. “I was on my way to the ISDE
in Czechoslovakia and had a layover there. East Berlin had
just opened up and the Wall was only partially torn down.
You could just pick up pieces of it.” I can tell when he has
no interest in my stories. There’s no response, no eye contact and nothing that might be misconstrued as encouragement. When that happens, I take it as a personal challenge.
“I had to catch a train that went through East Germany.
Man, what a trip that was! We were searched at an
unscheduled stop, and I had a whole gear bag confiscated.
I was lucky, though. They found a bunch of foreign curren-
cy on the train, which was illegal at the time, and the police
took a bunch of random people.”
Mark interrupted. “Do you have a set of black boots for
our photo shoot tomorrow? All I have are white ones.”
“Sure,” I said. “Where was I?”
“You were about to tell me about the black market for
currency in Eastern bloc countries,” he said.
“Oh yeah,” I hesitated.
“Unless, of course, you were going to merge that with
your Chernobyl story.”
“My Chernobyl story?” I asked.
“Yeah, that’s the one where the radioactive ash was
all over the place in Poland. Sometimes you say it was
“Yeah, well that actually happened,” I responded quickly.
I should have shut up at that point. Mark was in one of his
I-don’t-want-to-play moods. When that happens, the fog of
By Ron Lawson
cooked hot dogs over a volcano in Hawaii. That was when
I won the Mauna Kea 200 in 1989. Kilauea had erupted and
a big, hot lava flow blocked the road. You aren’t listening,
“I always listen. This is the part where you get Hawaii
mixed up with Iceland and talk about racing a 24-hour
there with Paul Krause. Then you talk about seeing ancient
Inca ruins there.” He rolled his eyes like a 15-year-old girl
who was just told to pay her own cell-phone bill.
“Okay, so you think I made up all this stuff, huh? Then
explain this piece of the Berlin Wall!”
“That rock was in your driveway last week. You were
using it as a wheel chock,” he said. Now that I inspected
the item carefully, it actually looked like a piece of my
driveway that had cracked off the corner. But, it didn’t mat-
ter; somewhere in the garage, I had a piece of the Berlin
“I’m no history expert,” he continued, “but I know that
Chernobyl and the fall of the Berlin Wall didn’t happen
at the same time. The Incas weren’t in Iceland, and I’m
pretty sure they never had a 24-hour there, either.” I was
actually kind of impressed. It meant he did listen to me.
He kept on going, pointing out flaws in stories that I don’t
even remember telling him. I let him talk while I called Paul
“Hey, Paul, remember the Inca ruins at the 24-hour we
did in Iceland?” I asked.
“Are you talking about the 24-hour in Plaster City, the
6-hour in Iceland or the Inca’s Rally in Peru?” he asked.
“Are you attempting to tell old stories again? Who’s the
“And you’re trying to convince him it’s all true, but you
keep messing it up worse and worse, huh?”
“Yes, something like that.” I said.
“Okay, here’s how to handle it. Wait 10 minutes, then ask
him how much money he earned by winning the Havasu
Big Six in 2007.”
“What will that accomplish?” I asked.
“Just do it.”
An hour later, we were halfway to the track and Mark still
hadn’t shut up. “And then they protested me because they
figured no one could win by that far,” he was saying. “Well,
there was a big points fund at stake and blagga, blagga,
yackity, yak yak.”
Of course, there was no Big Six at Havasu in 2007. And,
frankly, my Chernobyl story was way better. ❑
“Are you attempting to tell old sto-
ries again? Who’s the victim?”
“He rolled his eyes like a 15-year-
old girl who was just told to pay her
own cell-phone bill.”
sarcasm gets so thick that it’s hard to breathe.
“I know it did. Anything that’s repeated that many times
is automatically true. And didn’t you barbecue hot dogs
over radioactive rocks or something?”
“No, of course not. That would be ridiculous!” I said. “I