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I do not live on an island. It feels a little like one, this messy house I occupy. I need to get out, but I’m sick, which apparently happens about once every 56 weeks at this stage of my life. I really shouldn’t put this out because everyone has an opinion, and their diagnoses are scary. I’ve had a flu shot, a month or so back, and I’ve no urge to boogie-woogie. If it’s pneumonia, it’s not the rockin’ kind. What I have causes me to sneeze, wheeze, cough and, while sleeping, toss and turn. I’ve contracted a medley of songs.

By the time you read this, I hope to be well. I’ve no desire to give the crud to loved ones at Christmas.

This present arrived on Monday morning. The descent was such that, on Tuesday morning, I showed my face at a City Council meeting, and on Tuesday night, reached the parking lot only to deem myself unfit to see another one in another town. I took the caution flag, pulled down pit road, the boys raised the hood, and one of them said “no can do, boss.”

Just one of them city council deals, I reckon.

On Wednesday, I got the engine to turn over and cranked out some copy,

I had to look at my appointment book to remember when this minor-league plague started. I didn’t take pictures at the junior varsity game, so, yeah, I must have been sick already.

The only time I’ve thought about NASCAR is in my dreams, and my dreams have been spectacularly depressing. Last night, I wondered the roads of my home area as if I were Johnny Appleseed without the seeds. I kept thinking I was heading home, only to discover somehow I wasn’t, and wherever I was, I started telling old stories about Buddy Baker, Benny Parsons, Leonard Wood, David Pearson, Harry Gant, Sterling Marlin and Ricky Rudd to people who had no idea who any of them were.

It doesn’t take a therapist to read these dreams. They are the mournful words of a man who ain’t what he used to be but refuses to accept it. He still plies his trade and believes, like most writers, that he gets better with time because the more he writes, the more he learns about writing. He is painfully cognizant of the growing number of those around him who believe if he was any good, he wouldn’t be where he is.

Hell, maybe they’re right. In terms of capitalism, they are. I’ve lost my market value. I think the graph matches NASCAR itself.