I was paralyzed by mixed emotions.
Encouraging me to go to the event were three of my great joys: dogs, coffee and Adirondack chauvinism.
On the other hand, three things warned me not to go.
Bill Demong poses with Brother Phineas the Pug Thug Monday at Dewey Mountain Recreation Center.
(Photo — Bob Seidenstein)
For one, it was after work and I was tired, so I might come across as grouchy and grumpy.
Next, if I shlepped my dogs with me, given their free-spirited natures (read: they lack discipline and training), they were liable to act like the feral freebooters they are, tearing up the joint in search of treats and attention.
Finally, coming in late afternoon, coffee was no inducement. After my first few gallons of the day, it all pretty much tastes the same.
But the Adirondack chauvinism could not be ignored.
The event, by the way, was Monday's reception at Dewey Mountain for one of Vermontville's favorite sons and its only Olympic gold medalist (to date, at least), Billy Demong. But this wasn't a typical meet 'n' greet. It was the kick-off of a fundraising effort for the Dewey ski center. Front and center in this effort were My Home Town's King and Kween of Koffee: Dan and Debbie Stoorza, owners of Adirondack Bean-To. They'd be there unveiling - and giving samples of - their limited edition, Billy Demong signature blend, "Hammer Down," named after the U.S. Ski Team's pep slogan/mantra.
The flagship of Bean-To's line is the stuff that jump-starts my ancient engine every morning - Hammer. Then they've got a half-regular, half-decaf blend for the faint of heart called Tack Hammer. They've also got a couple of full-decafs, but who cares?
Hammer Down comes in a package adorned with a funky, autographed Billy Demong graphic on the front. On the back, among other things, it says it's "the best coffee in the world," which I believe had to be stated to conform to truth-in-labeling laws. It costs two bucks more a pound than regular Hammer, but those two dollars go to helping construct a new base lodge at Dewey. In short, it's a bargain.
To show or not to show?
I'd heard about the reception late Monday morning, at work, from the Amazon Queen, who told me it started at 4:30.
I mulled over it. My last class ended at 3:30, and if I left campus at 4, I'd be home by 4:30. But once home, I had to liberate the hounds for their pre-prandial constitutional, which usually takes an hour, by which time I figured the reception'd be over. But since I live just up the road from Dewey, I could walk the boys to the reception, thus combining the activities.
The only problem would be the dogs, or more precisely, one of them - Brother Phineas the Pug Thug.
Not that Brother Phineas has bad disposition; in fact, the lad doesn't have one mean bone in his entire chubby bod. Just is, because he loves everybody and has no impulse control, he doesn't realize there are people who might think differently, people so finicky they don't like dogs (especially one with muddy paws) jumping up on them and slobbering a little on their khakis. So whenever I take him anywhere, I have to keep him on a tight leash, literally. That's enough work by itself, but if my other canine Shaky Jake is with me and BP, the job gets compounded by a factor of at least 10.
What to do?
I did what I had to - I went to the reception.
It was the Adirondack chauvinism that did it. If a local-boy-made-good shows up to lend his support to a grassroots project that'll benefit the area, the least I can do is show up for it.
Besides, I figured the event, being so low-key and underpublicized, would be sparsely attended, so perhaps The Dope and his wonderdogs (so named because I always wonder what they'll do next) would add just the right amount of je ne sais quoi.
That's how I figured it. But as soon as I drove by Dewey, I realized I'd figured wrong. The parking lot was so packed, people had to park on the road. So much for needing my je ne sais quoi. But even without that, I still had The Dope and his wonderdogs, and once they'd been fed and saddled up, we strolled down to the ski center.
It was a rollicking good time. A tent had been set up and apparently some luminaries and politicians had showcased their sterling rhetoric and timeless wisdom, but unfortunately I missed it. Instead, I had to settle for chatting with various pals, among them Amy Cheney-Seymour, Tim "Mobile" Holmes and Jeff Couture. In the crowd I spotted Billy's proud parents, Leo and Helen, as well as Jack Burke, father of another of our local 2010 Winter Olympians, Tim Burke.
And somewhere among the throng was Billy, who from time to time came up for air before his next round of autographs and interviews. I stayed on the outskirts of the crowd, not wanting to deal with Phineas autographing someone's clean clothes.
Close to 6 o'clock, things began to break up and most people started to leave. Among them was Billy, and it dawned on me I hadn't even said hello, much less given him the congratulation he deserved.
Since Kris Seymour was walking around in sport coat and tie, a clipboard in hand, looking like The Man With The Plan, I called to him and asked if he could bring Billy over.
"But he's leaving," said Kris.
"That's why I asked you to get a hold of him," I said. "Should I have spoken more slowly?"
(If that sounds too snappy, blame it on the Hammer I'd just drunk.)
Anyhow, Commander Clipboard did as asked, and Billy graciously came over and chatted for a bit. Then we said our goodbyes and made our respective exits.
And now a final note on Adirondack chauvinism at its best.
Big sports are big business - even big amateur sports. One result is the cities where athletes train will pay the athletes to list their training town as their hometown.
Forgoing this, Billy always listed Vermontville as his hometown, and Tim Burke always listed Paul Smiths as his.
This shows their obvious hometown pride.
But it doesn't show what's obvious to all of us - namely our hometown pride in them.