We'd both experienced monster truck shows before so we knew what to expect. I had gone with my father in Seattle years ago and I'll never forget watching a giant truck literally bite the spoiler off a Porsche Turbo. In my high-octane brain, I'm sure it represented one class system sticking it to the other; I found it deeply satisfying.
But things have changed and entertainment standards have been significantly lowered. The show began at 2 p.m. and for the next 45 minutes, we sat in our seats, stupified. One by one, excessively obese trucks made their slow entrance into the seemingly tiny dirt stage and one at a time, performed one single trick - driving over a line of cars until the fat body pointed high, exposing the truck's undersides. It was somewhat interesting the first 10 times but those giant axles all start to look the same after awhile.
There was no racing. No speed. No dirt flying. Instead, we were directed to the TV screens above to watch an endless stream of commercials, ads for sponsored crap being sold within the walls of the Pepsi Center. We couldn't believe it. "Um, did we leave our beautiful home to come here and watch TV?" I finally said. Kirk just gaped, incredulous.
In a sad attempt to make the "sport" seem legitimate, a mystifying point system was added but never explained. Even worse, the drivers would get out of their trucks to be interviewed by some ESPN wanna-be. The drivers were asked about their feelings, their trucks, their feelings about their trucks. Oh, it was awful.
At one point, a slick silver motorcycle thing came out with flames shooting out of it. "COOL!" we thought. It then did one slow lap around the dirt. The driver then got off and held up his arms to the crowd, which roared in approval. I refused. "Wait, why are we clapping? Because he didn't fall off? I don't get it."
More commercials. Then, some guy in orange board shorts stood in the dirt and started dancing badly and singing horribly. I couldn't believe my eyes and ears. It was the same facility where I saw the Dalai Lama speak and I can assure you that watching an old man sit in a chair was about 8.5 million times more exciting that what I was watching that day.
Kirk and I looked around at the other attendees, thinking surely they would be upset as well but they just looked like drooling zombies, content with commercials, mind-numbing chatter and idle trucks too fat to do anything at all except nearly tip over. I commented out loud, "I just can't believe it" and the young guy next to me chimed in, "I know, isn't this great?!" It was all so symbolic of where we are as a country - fat and dumbed-down. Try as I might, I just couldn't ignore it.
Let's face it, one-third of Americans are obese - that's 102 million people. Our physical activity and couch passivity have created a society plagued with diabetes and heart conditions. Meanwhile, our student test scores drop as we regularly get our asses kicked by China and India in manufacturing. Watching those giant behemoths do the same stupid thing over and over and over again while the crowd roared their approval between commercials, made me depressed. Holy shit, aren't things supposed to improve over time and not get worse?
Finally, we could take it no more and got up to leave, amazed that others were not following. As I walked to the ladies room, intermission was announced. "Intermission from what?" I wondered aloud. Kirk was beyond upset. I asked him how much he paid for the tickets. "Too much," he said, shaking his head. "I will never tell. Never, ever, ever."
The deflating experience did give me a new appreciation for the rodeo, which delivers constant dangerous action at a constant pace. The only 'commercials' we are forced to watch is the occasional pretty horsewoman riding a handsome steed while holding a sponsor flag - harder than it looks, trust me. And maybe 10 seconds each? Seems a small price to pay for the variety of events and the seamless production value.