Roy Exum: November’s Orchids And Onions

Monday, November 4, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

Gee, it seems with Daylight Savings Time gone that I am walking in my garden an hour later than normal. As we wait until March 9, 2014, to once again “spring ahead,” I notice we have still not had a hard frost so here is what I find among my orchids and onions on the first Monday of a new November:

AN ORCHID for the way an ever-entertaining Southeastern Conference football season is roaring down this month’s home stretch. In the West we thought all along No. 1 Alabama might run the table but who among us figured once-beaten Auburn – a terrible 3-9 team last year – would offer the Crimson Tide its toughest test when the Iron Bowl rivalry (maybe the best in college football) is played at Auburn on Nov. 30?

AN ONION for the way Tennessee’s football team just gave up a dismal 502 yards in the 31-3 loss to Missouri, a game that will probably propel the No. 9 Tigers (8-1) into the SEC championship game in Atlanta on Dec. 7. Mizzou still has to play Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Texas A&M, mind you, but if the Tigers win out the SEC East is theirs. A loss will force a three-way tie with South Carolina and Georgia but Mizzou has the best record in a tie-breaker.

AN ORCHID for a clandestine team of “Cannonball Run” guys from Atlanta who just drove a hopped-up Mercedes CL55 AMG from the Red Ball Garage in New York City to Redondo Beach, Calif., in exactly 28 hours, 50 minutes and 30 seconds.  The cross-country sprint was made famous in a 1981 movie where Burt Reynolds immortalized the Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash. So Ed Bolian, a 28-year-old devotee-of-speed who works for Lamborghini Atlanta, talked customer Dave Black into being a co-driver and Georgia Tech student Dan Huang as the technician into the fastest day of their lives. Armed with a police scanner, two GPS units, two laser jammers, three radar detectors and a bedpan (!) they broke the existing record of 31 hours, 4 minutes. Average speed was 98 miles an hour and top speed, according to a satellite tracking device, actually reached 158 mph.

AN ONION for anybody crazy enough to ever attempt to break the Cannonball Run record of Bolian & Co. At the beginning of the 1981 movie, the starter yelled to the crowd of racers, “You are certainly the most distinguished group of highway scofflaws and degenerates ever gathered together in one place.” (Sammy Davis. Jr. starred in the movie as a driver dressed as a priest.)

AN ORCHID for the newly-documented fact men decrease their walking speed by 7 percent every time they walk alongside their girlfriend.

AN ONION for the fact a Florida Highway Patrolman had to keep Gator football coach Will Muschamp from going into the stands after an irate fan made an obscene gesture and shouted profanities after a valiant comeback fizzled in Georgia's 23-20 victory Saturday. “I don’t spend two seconds thinking about that,” he said about the mounting hostility. “We just move on. We’ve gotta coach our football team. Control the things you can control. That’s what we’re gonna do. And we’re gonna be fine, I can assure you that.”

AN ONION to the ignoramus traffic planner who closed portions of Market Street, MLK Boulevard and other downtown streets at the height of Friday afternoon rush-hour traffic and for the regrettable fact there was not one police official that could be seen directing traffic. I’m all for honoring sanitation workers but closing streets far earlier than necessary all around Miller Park caused the thousands here for the “Head of the Hootch” rowing event to wonder how much backwards can our city be.

AN ORCHID to the football players at Boyd-Buchanan and Silverdale Baptist Academy for proving that high school football develops more kids for life ahead than just about anything you can name. Feisty Boyd-Buchanan, a losing season already assured, never flinched in the waning minutes and won a 22-21 victory over previously unbeaten Silverdale in a way that – get this – could inspire the losing team all the way to the state title. I’ve seen stuff exactly like that happen, too.

AN ONION to former University of Tennessee and professional football player Albert Haynesworth, a noted trouble-maker, who last week called Washington Redskins coach Mike Shanahan “self-centered” and predicted the head coach would “run (quarterback) Robert Griffin III into the ground.”

AN ORCHID to the same Mike Shanahan – one of the classiest guys in pro sports – for taking a deep breath and saying, “When you don’t get along with somebody as a head coach or an assistant coach, it usually falls into one of those areas –  lazy, lack of passion, and -- lots of times -- lack of character. And (Haynesworth) fits all three.”

AN ONION  to the stretch of city streets between McCallie Avenue and Glenwood Drive that are in such terrible condition – get this – the street’s surface alone terrorizes a bone-cancer patient a friend of mine has volunteered to drive to Memorial Cancer Center for treatments. C’mon, we can do better than this … (and if you want the reward of a lifetime find someone you can drive to the hospital and back.)

AN ORCHID for two long-awaited books that have just been released: “Sycamore Row” by John Grisham is a sequel to the legendary “A Time to Kill” written by the same author 25 years ago, while “The Death of Santini: The Story of a Father and His Son,” has been released by my all-time favorite author Pat Conroy and is a memoir in which he confesses, "I hated my father long before I knew there was a word for hate."

AN ORCHID to Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam for his gigantic steps to make sure former foster children in the state won’t “fall through the cracks” on their 18th birthdays – when benefits suddenly stop – and will now be offered community-based aid and nurturing until they get their feet on the ground.

AN ORCHID to Dr. Wayne Clough, Class of 1959 at Chattanooga High School, who was just named as the 2013 Alumnus of the Year, for donating funds to have a beautiful plaque in memory of Dr. James W. Henry to be placed at the school.

AN ONION for the wry observation that there is “a stairway to heaven” but “a highway to hell.” Seems to point in the direction most of us will end up if we don’t change our ways.

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