"Hey, you gonna let your thunder buddy ride alone?" Rafal Doloto asked nobody in particular.
What is he talking about? And who is this thunder buddy?
"Hey, your thunder buddy's by himself," the voice goaded. "He's probably wondering why you aren't by his side helping him."
The pace line rotated. Due to the odd number of people in the group, I was then paired next to Fred, who was wearing the exact same throwback jersey from yesteryear's now defunct Lincoln Bicycle Company/High Gear team. From head to toe, we were matching pair.
"There. That's much better. Thunderbuddies unite!"
It was Rafal's voice again. He was comparing Fred and I to Seth MacFarlane's Ted and Mark Wahlberg's John Bennett from the 2012 movie, Ted.
A thunder buddy is something that helps calm one's anxiety. For a child, this could be a teddy bear. According to MacFarlane, the can also be true for a grown adult.
MacFarlane must be on to something, because seeing Fred and I in those matching kits must have resonated in Rafal. It must have soothed his growing angst over the surge of wattage Lucas and Noah were throwing down at the front of the pace line. Rafal probably figured (correctly) that as soon as Fred and I were up front, things would calm down again. It did.
Rafal knows a good thing when he sees it.
The thing is, I'm not the only one in my household that has a thunder buddy shirt. My dog, Emmylou, has one too. Not the LBC/High Gear thunder buddy kit, although that would be sweet. No, she has the real deal: the Thundershirt made specifically for dogs.
If you've followed this blog for any amount of time, you know that my dog is somewhat of a spaz. You might have read that I put her on Prozac. True story. She's on Prozac because the Thundershirt didn't evoke enough of that swaddling, cuddly goodness that the thundershirt website claimed it would. Nope, she was still a wreck while wearing it.
Emmy still wears the Thundershirt from time to time. I might as well get some use out of it. She doesn't seem to mind it. I think the Thundershirt makes her look like one of those greyhounds or whippets at the dog track.
Of course, Emmy would need to shed a few pounds to look like that. And I'd have to wrap her Kibbles 'n Bits chute with a steel cage. That dog above has crazy eyes, too. Aside from those differences, a spot on resemblance if there ever was one.
Speaking of dog racing, I've only gambled on live animal racing of any kind once in my life. It was at the dog tracks in Council Bluffs back when I was in college. The occasion was a social event our dorm threw one night. Back then, there wasn't much to do in Omaha except visit the Old Market. That's still the case, but back then it was even worse. And because the Old Market was/is the only show in town, every dorm on campus went there. Like every weekend. That was until a disgruntled RA came up with the idea of hitting the dilapidated dog tracks in Council Bluffs for a night of dog racing.
Growing up, I heard about the dangers of gambling and was strongly discouraged from partaking in it. Unless of course, it was Bingo! night in the Gold Room of our local parish, St Gerard Majella. But bingo wasn't gambling. Oh no. Gambling was what you did outside of churches, at places of scum and villainy such as dog tracks. Tsk, tsk, those were forbidden places.
Back then, the good folks of Iowa also forbade gambling. Now I'm pretty sure they allowed Bingo in Iowa, but we've already established that Bingo is not gambling. Interestingly, they also allowed dog racing. Why that -- and not Casinos until more recently -- is anyone's guess. I suppose they allowed dog racing because Nebraska raced horses at the former Aksarben race track. Perhaps their logic could have been: since bingo is not gambling, and dogs are not horses, and Nebraskans gamble on horses, therefore dog racing is not gambling. Yeah, something like that.
At any rate, Iowa allowed Dog Racing in Council Bluffs. That's how we ended up at the Dog Track instead of the Old Market. On the very first race, I plunked down two bucks on a dog. Lady luck, or a dog doper behind the scenes, was on my side that night. My dog came from mid-pack to close on the final straightaway, winning by over a body length. What a rush. That two buck bet returned $38, lighting up the gambling circuitry of brain like Maccau at night.
I quit on the spot. That's also a true story. I haven't placed a wager since. I'm still in the black by $36.
Speaking of quitting, I'm pressed against a deadline. Enough of polishing this turd. Time to call it good.
Thunder buddies unite!