Thursday, January 21, 2010

Say a Prayer for Wessa

The sky always opens on me in Charlotte.

Heading to my first really big national interview, I was caught in a southern downpour. But it was fine. On the radio, no one knows you’re soaking wet.

As I sat down for Dave Moody’s afternoon drive show at Sirius XM’s studio outside Charlotte, a pack of Extenze Male Enhancement awaited me. They had to be for me, positioned on the console in front of my microphone. Sitting behind the wheel moments earlier, listening to the rain slam the rental car’s roof and Moody’s booming voice talking up “Andrew Giangola’s great new book,” I’d been on top of the mountain. And now, putting the headphones on, looking at the capsules I’m regularly told I need in spam e-mail, talk about cutting a man down to size…so to speak.

Actually, Moody didn’t place the penis enlargement pills there; the Extenze came from a previous guest. Hey, a race car is a pretty good place to advertise just about anything, even stuff that doesn’t work. Not that I know that from experience.

I was short of breath from the post 9.11 asthma and the general terror that strikes before a mike is opened, not because of the Extenze. Back in the hotel room, meditating to clear the cobwebs, the toilet started flushing on its own, scaring the bejesus out of me. It would be difficult to get phased when there are irregular ghosts in your room.

We got rolling, and it went really well. Dave was genuinely excited about the fan stories, and thought it was cool NASCAR let me tell them in my own voice. On a day when new rules were announced to let the boys have at it, you could say NASCAR is letting the drivers drive and the writers write. I even got in a dig on Al Qaeda.

Amazingly, Moody knew many of the fans in The Weekend Starts on Wednesday. Dr. Diandra Leslie-Pelecky, NASCAR’s “Science Lady” has been a guest on the show, as has up and coming driver Paulie Harraka, a whip smart student at Duke. Dave had been to Bob’s Party Bus and had met Tire Man. A veteran of the infield where many reporters don't trod; very cool.

Through the power of Social Networking I’d been able to alert the fans in the book and my own Facebook and Twitter friends about the appearance. Our Weekend Starts on Wednesday Facebook Fan Page added about 100 fans within hours of the interview. One fan emailed to say he’d ordered 10 copies from Amazon. Heck, I gotta go on the radio more often!

One question was especially tough: which fan story is my favorite? There are so many great stories; every fan is special in his or her own right. Along with CPL. John Hyland, I mentioned Wessa Miller, the Lucky Penny Girl, who on a Make a Wish gave Dale Earnhardt her lucky coin, “helping” him finally win the 1998 Daytona 500 after years of heartbreak and futility.

Well, I just learned that Wessa, who was born with spina bifida, had been suffering bad seizures and is in the ICU unit of a Kentucky hospital. As her dad Booker told me, Wessa is tough, she never complains. Getting to know the family in the course of writing The Lucky Penny Girl chapter, I found Wessa to be a girl with extraordinary faith and courage.

But she needs our help. She made it through a Code Blue today. Tonight, please say a special prayer for Wessa Miller.

1 comment:

  1. Great time the other day, Andrew! Sorry the Extenze rattled you. Kenny Wallace actually seemed pleased that we had something waiting for him when he arrived!

    Prayers for Wessa, and best of luck with the book. As they say, "It's a good `un."