Weekly Whack: Gentlemen Start Your Engines
Gentlemen Start Your Engines
May 26, 1996

This being the last weekend in the month of May, the holiday of Memorial Day is upon us. Memorial Day is not your typical American holiday, since Hallmark doesn't issue a greeting card for it. However there are numerous traditions surrounding this holiday that make it a special one in the hearts of many people. So let's take a look at Memorial Day, a holiday of sun, fun, and auto racing.

First of all, I think it would be a good idea to discuss the actual purpose of Memorial Day right off the bat. You see, the reason this holiday was instituted was to have a day where Americans could remember all those who fought bravely and died in all our wars. So on this day Americans are supposed to reflect on the thousands upon thousands of US soldiers who died in World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, and the three soldiers who died in the Gulf War. However any Americans who died in a war prior to World War I, such as the Mexican-American War, are not to be remembered because the statute of limitations that were written along with the formation of this holiday say, "When a period of one hundred years has passed since the death of an American soldier in battle, then one no longer should remember the said soldier because simply stated, it's been a century, get over it."

Anyhow, while we are on the topic of wars, I just wanted to bring in a little tidbit of news I heard about Iraq, the country we took out all our frustrations from Vietnam out on. The United Nations decided that it would allow Iraq to sell its oil for food. This is good since it increases the oil supply, and thus lowers the price of gas. For all those interested, the rate agreed upon by both Iraq and the UN was five barrels of oil for fifteen hundred Big Mac value meals, and six barrels if they wanted them super-sized.

Back to Memorial Day; the problem many people have with the holiday is that a week prior to Memorial Day is Armed Forces Day. The purpose of Armed Forces Day is similar to that of Memorial Day, so many find it repetitive to have two similar holidays right near each other. So most people remember all those armed forces people on Armed Forces Day, and when Memorial Day comes along, since they already met the obligations of the holiday just a week earlier, they just consider Memorial Day a day where they don't have to go to work or school, and do whatever they want to.

OK, now that we got through all the background information surrounding Memorial Day, let's go a little more in depth. So what does the average American do on this free day? Well if they live near me, they most likely go to the beach. The Jersey Shore is absolutely packed every year on Memorial Day. Personally, although, I can not find a single positive thing about going to the beach. First of all, the shore is always packed, and I was never too fond of crowds. Also, ocean water has salt in it, and salt water doesn't taste good when it gets in your mouth. Then there are those jellyfish, they don't exactly tickle. And when you go home, you are going to find yourself so sunburned that you won't be physically capable of removing your shirt for at least three days. So that's why I was never a big beach person. But don't fret, there are much more Memorial Day related activities for people such as myself.

Memorial Day is also a big day for parades and picnics. I always liked parades, because I'm a big fan of marching bands. However one exception is that I don't like bag pipe bands. Bag pipes scare me. I don't know whether it is the actual bag pipe that scares me, or the fact that it is played by Scottish men wearing kilts. There has to be some repressed memory from my childhood involving Scottish men in kilts, and bag pipes, that must have really spooked me. Another thing about parades that I never really liked, was that horses just take a dump right in the middle of the street with everybody watching. Don't these animals have any pride? But parades are generally cool, especially ones with tanks and other army vehicles. Picnics also are enjoyable. But through my entire life I never had a picnic, or attended a picnic, where the food was actually stored in the proverbial picnic basket. Usually everybody just brings food in Tupperware.

One last final event associated with Memorial Day is the Indy 500. On the Sunday before every Memorial Day is the single biggest auto race in the world, the Indy 500. The Indy 500 is real exciting stuff. I don't know about you, but what can be more fun than watching a bunch of rednecks drive around in a circle 200 times? This year is even better because, due to some Indy racing bureaucracy that I don't care about and refuse to get into, all of the famous rednecks won't be racing in this year's Indy 500. But don't fret, all these guys formed their own 500 mile race called the US 500 and they are going to stage it the same day as the Indy. So what can be better than watching two Indy-car races in one glorious day? I don't know, bag pipes?

Well, I am done for this week, so to conclude for this Whack, horses are disgusting animals; a trip to the beach is no trip to the beach; and stop remembering the Alamo, it happened too long ago.

Now for this week's very special feature, Feff's top ten favorite Indianapolis 500 winners of all time:

10. Howdy Wilcox
9. Dario Resta
8. Frederick Frame
7. Mauri Rose
6. Gaston Chevrolet
5. Tom Sneva
4. Wilbur Shaw
3. Parnelli Jones
2. Bill Vukovich
1. Gordon Johncock