When I was in Haysville Kansas for my son’s All Star tournament last Summer, I got to be friendly with a local guy named Vern who was the grounds keeper for the baseball complex.
Just so you have the right picture in your mind, Vern is about 6’4” and maybe a biscuit shy of 300 lbs. His arms are twice the size of my legs and if I took a full steam run at him from 20 yards away and tried to knock him over, I’d be in traction for a month. Vern’s got a shaved head and a big fu Manchu moustache and he wears the same pair of overalls everyday. I don’t know exactly what size he wears but I’m guessing there’s at least 3 X’s in front of the L and if you could slap a V 8 engine into the front of his bib, he’d be almost indistinguishable from the tractor he rides around the ball field every morning.
On Saturday afternoon I was helping Vern water down the field between games and he says, “Hey Mikey, what’re you doing tomorrow afternoon?”
I said, “Well, watching my son play baseball and then driving back to Denver, why”?
He said, “Well, the weather reports are saying we might have a big storm and possibly a tornado roll through. If the game gets rained out do you wanna go storm chasing with me and a couple of my buddies?”
Not wanting to be impolite or have Vern squash me like a bug, I said, “Well, uh, Vern, what all is involved in this storm chasing adventure you speak of?”
He said, “Well, my buddy Tad has a big ol’ Ford Truck with a weather scanner and some video gear in it and basically we drive around listening to the reports and trying to get close enough to get some film footage of a tornado if one happens to touch down.”
So after pretending to think this offer over for a minute or two I said, “Well, see, here’s the thing, Vern. I’m a city boy from Pittsburgh. Back where I come from, if it rains we sit on the porch and watch it rain. If it rains real HARD, we go inside. And if any weather man says anything about a Tornado, we take a gigantic box of beef jerky into the basement and sit there for about a week just to be on the safe side.”
Apparently Vern thought this was funny enough to get me off the hook without making any untoward comments about my man-hood and after a polite “Suit yourself”, he ambled off to finish watering the ball field.
In hindsight, Vern’s offer to go storm chasing gave me an idea for a reality TV show.
Take 4 city boys, and put them in a beat up Yugo. Give them a can of Pringles and a worn out cassette copy of Zeppelin Two and have them follow storm chasers like Vern and Tad from a relatively safe distance filming THEM.
I call the show “Dork Chasers”.
It’ll be sort of like Deliverance. Only without the banjos or Ned Beatty.
Be sure to look for it on TV this fall.