Three solid hours of non-refundable simulated deafness

We were ready to watch our first Monster Trucks show. My son and his friend had their Monster Truck flags, which indicates that they had not succeeded in poking out any eyes with the flag sticks during the pit party. They had their industrial-grade earmuffs, and my wife and I had our ear plugs ready.

On the arena floor were two rows of junk cars just waiting to be crushed to bits. The Monster Trucks were scattered around the outside of the floor area. We anticipated a fun-packed circus of mechanization and noise.

kids looking at monster truck

This truck can totally crush a whole row of cars. It can do it all . . . night . . . long.

The announcer introduced the drivers. The names floated past us into oblivion. The drivers put on their helmets and got into the their trucks, assuming their true identities (e.g. the guy driving the black truck).

The boys put their ear protection into place, which instantly turned them talkative. You’ve never heard a more confused conversation than one between two preschoolers wearing earmuffs:

FRIEND: “The red truck is starting up.”

SON: “Huh?”

FRIEND: “The red truck is starting.”

SON: “Huh? Oh look, the red truck is going.”

FRIEND: “Huh?”

Seeing me put in my ear plugs inspired my son to attempt a conversation with me, an activity fraught with miscommunication under ideal acoustic conditions. Realizing that I couldn’t hear him, he helpfully lifted a muff from one of his ears every time he spoke.

I tried to preserve my son’s hearing by discouraging him from talking. I turned my attention to the spectacle below. This was when I realized that I’m not really a Monster Truck kind of guy. Yes, it was cool, the first time the trucks ran over the cars, but they just kept running over them again and again. I believe this is where the phrase beating a dead horse originated, back during the old Monster Stage Coach exhibitions.

two moster trucks crushing cars

Looks pretty cool, right? It was pretty cool, until about the 20th time over the cars. I didn’t take a picture of the 20th time, or any of the times thereafter.

Finally, after the cars were crushed flat, the announcer declared, “Well, the time has come . . .” I reached for my coat. “. . . for intermission.” Intermission? You mean we’ve got to wait half an hour until they decide to start driving over a road of flattened metal again? “That’s right, it’s intermission time!” the announcer replied to my thoughts.

The second half of the show was amazing, for those who can’t get enough repetitive truck driving. The boys were fidgety. They were losing interest, but they didn’t want to go, because at that age it’s easy to get trapped in that gray area between boredom and not wanting to miss anything. One of the trucks shot sparks, leaving the boys hoping for a full-blown fireball. It seems almost cruel that none of the trucks exploded.

The show finally ended when the grand champion’s truck started leaking some crucial fluid. It wasn’t exactly a heart-stopping finale, but all the smoke rising from the engine made it almost like the fire the boys had been awaiting.

My wife had the boys’ coats on, earmuffs put away, and was leading them out of the arena in about 15 seconds. Apparently, she’s not a Monster Truck kind of gal.


Monster Trucks: Every bit as good as a sharp stick in the eye

We took our four-year-old and his friend to see a Monster Trucks show at the local sports arena. I had never been to such an event and did not know what to expect. All I could reasonably be sure of was that the boys would enjoy themselves at a show featuring big trucks with big tires crushing stuff.

Before the show there was a pit party. Everyone got to get a close-up look at the trucks and meet the drivers. The first thing the boys noticed when we got there was that some other children had Monster Truck flags for the drivers to autograph. Well, if people we’d never heard of before, and would never see again, were signing other kids’ flags, then we needed flags for signing too.

boys visit big chicken

I’m not sure what a giant chicken is doing at a Monster Trucks show, but those huge eyes of his must present a tempting target for a couple of kids with sticks.

The flags hadn’t looked like such a liability for other parents, but as soon we handed over the money for them, we realized what a bad idea they were. Give a kid a flag at the end of a stick and he is overcome by the need to wave it recklessly. Correction: Give a kid anything at the end of a stick and he is overcome by the need to wave it recklessly. Correction: Give a kid a stick and he is overcome by the need to wave it recklessly.

It was a crowded arena, and many times I had to deflect one of our jubilant flag sticks from the vulnerable parts of strangers. But the kids needed the flags to collect autographs and that is exactly what they did, until they had each collected one autograph. You had to wait in line to get an autograph, and waiting in line is not nearly as fun as running off and waving your flags in each other’s faces.

waving flag into camera

It’s always fun until some camera loses a lens.

For the one autograph they did get, my wife held our places in line while I refereed their flag fight. I’d hoped this might get it out of their systems, but they were still in a waving frenzy as we rejoined the line. We needed to have a man to man to man talk about flag safety before somebody got hurt, and somebody got sued.

I knelt down and made them pay attention. “Listen, if you put out somebody’s eye, I don’t know you,” I told them. “When they ask you who brought you here, you go point out somebody at the other end of the arena so I have time to get back to the car. Got it?”

A minute later, they got their first and only autograph from a very nice man whom I could not now pick out of a police lineup to save my life. He has a very snazzy signature though. It looks great on the flag, but it’s illegible, so we are unlikely to ever know who he was. He’ll always just be that guy who drove the red truck, or was it orange? Oh well, the important thing is that nobody lost an eye needed an attorney.

writing on monster truck

Taking a break from flags and chickens to visit a Monster Truck. Writing our names on Chalkboard Chuck.