JJ Vincent tries to convince the still-broken-legged NASCAR driver Tony Stewart that he needs to join the legions of men who knit.
A third surgery? And just when you were beginning to walk again? That’s (no pun intended) a tough break, man. Maybe next year, no charity races? So now that it looks like you are going to be laid up for a while longer, I’m sure you are already bored as heck and itching for something to do. Might I suggest…knitting?
Yes. You read that right. Knitting. Right now if your chihuahua could read this, it would be nodding in agreement and dreaming of a big drawer full of little sweaters. I can hear you saying, “I’m NASCAR! I’m Tony-freakin’-Stewart! Knitting? WhaHUH? No way! Knitting? But I’m a guy! I…pshhh, whatever.”
Men knit. We do. Lots of us. Little boys, college kids, high school lacrosse players who make a fortune knitting stick cozies other players. Truck drivers do it. Doctors do it. Engineers do it. Carpenters do it. Soldiers making gun cozies in deserts do it. And even some of your fans do it. Male fans, too.
While your leg is mending, you can be creating something. It’s not that hard. You seem to be pretty bright, and you will be welcomed into the fold of Men Who Knit. We need every body we can get. We’ve come a long way, but not so far that people don’t stop us in public and ask what we are doing, and then respond like we’ve just found the cure for the common cold or turned unicorn poop into wine. The women knitters don’t get this kind of response. People ask what they are making, not question what they are seeing with their very own eyes. A high-profile dude like yourself would do wonders to help us reach our goal, which is that of not causing shock and awe with a couple of sticks and some string.
And guess what, Smoke! You can take your knitting to the track, too. There are huge online discussions dedicated to this: which projects are best for which tracks and which races; which tracks’ security will fuss about your needles; which tracks are too dirty for “good” yarn; which races require easy, no-think projects and which are ok for things that need counting; which tracks have a lot of down time in traffic or between admission and race; what seats are least likely to result in beer-soakings. You have time in your trailer when I’m sure you need to relax and regroup. Once your leg is healed, knitting can be your go-to chill out activity, and when the scarf pattern you are working on refuses to cooperate, you can let of some steam by rubbing paint at 160mph. And here’s another bonus…if you are ever in the market for a woman, knitting is like catnip. And there’s a good chance that she’ll knit too, so on those nights when you’re working late in the garage, she’s going to be too preoccupied with her own project to care.
There’s also a special comraderie among men who knit in public. We are choosing to do something that invites derision, name-calling, weird looks, people pointing at us, all the things that happen to people who act outside of the norm. You’d probably be safe, though—anyone who has seen your skill at throwing a punch while still wearing your helmet knows you are a force to be reckoned with. The rest of us just want you in the club. And you don’t have to knit anything fluffy or frilly, unless you want to. There are dozens of books now for men who knit (or crochet—that is allowed, too), and even one for Men Who Knit and the Dogs Who Love Them.
If you’re down for a long while, which it looks like you’re going to be, I’m sure you could even knit a carbon fiber car cozy, or a big bag to haul your prize money around in, maybe a couple of nice polish cloths for your ride, maybe an ear-flap hat for those red-flag races when it’s fifty degrees and they are trying to clean someone’s car off the track.
We men who knit are violating all sorts of social norms and breaking a whole lot of gender rules. Join us. You’re a rebel. Rebel with us. It’s a lot more fun than surfing daytime TV while your leg (pardon the pun) knits.
— photo: Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP file