Karting with Flat Stanley C

Herewith, the third and final adventurous installment of our Flat Stanley trilogy. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts (June 1 and May 20), we’ve been getting a series of little cardboard-cutout characters — all with the same unfortunate, but suspicious, name: Flat Stanly — from Ana’s nieces, the Mendes triplets. The goal is to provide each of them with a fully documented and illustrated adventure, something that’s sufficient to entertain a classroom of third graders. After treating Olivia’s Flat Stanley to a baby-filled weekend in Boston and Greenwich, and then taking Julia’s Flat Stanley to the new Phillies ballpark and the local dogpark, we knew the bar was set awfully high for the inevitable arrival of Gabrielle’s Flat Stanley. The solution, we decided, was to treat “C” to a day of racing go-karts.

My dad’s company had organized a boondoggle to Lime Rock, a “Karting” track in northwestern Connecticut, where they were going to celebrate the latest consumer products company they’d merged with. He invited my brother, brother-in-law, and I to come race and take on the investment bankers. Bad idea.

What I thought was going to be a lighthearted day of innocent bumper cars turned into a viciously competitive day of high-impact collisions. Little did we know that the “karts” manage speeds of about 50 miles-per-hour and that the bankers would use them to inflict bodily pain on anyone in their path. With only a helmet and rib-cage pad to protect me, multiple bruises and concussions were sustained (I think). The last impact took the wind out of me for so long that I had to retire from the race early — after the first lap, actually. Thank God Flat Stanley was safely tucked beneath the pad and racing jumpsuit or else I fear he would’ve been flattened into oblivion.

Later on, I heard that Paul Newman had been at the track earlier in the day, racing the big-boy cars. This news was seriously depressing. Here I am at age 27, and I can’t handle a little bumping and grinding with the glorified Big Wheels, but 105-year-old Paul Newman’s out there leading the pack. And, as a random aside, I also heard that George Bush is going to be skydiving on his 80th birthday — for the second time, no less. The only conclusion that I can draw from all this is that I’m precariously close to pussydom, and I need to grow a sack fast. Bring on the bachelor party, I say! What better excuse to go bungee jumping and running with the bulls. If only there were a way to combine the two …

–The extended Mann family. From left to right, Doug Mann, Dan Raiche, Ted Mann, Diana Wheeler, and Peter Mann.