Recommended wine for today’s entry: Well, if you don’t have any mint juleps leftover to sip on as I reminisce about an early Derby experience, how about getting a glass of Bridlewood chardonnay and going with the horse theme for just one more day? It is a great everyday chardonnay and is widely available and inexpensive. According to melandrose.com, it has “aromas and flavors of nectarine, Mandarin oranges and fresh apples with notes of Vanilla and spice plus a lime and mineral finish.” As Kramer would say, “Giddy up!”
I am pleased to report that I survived the 136th Kentucky Derby. No, I didn’t say “I survived MY 136th Kentucky Derby,” but sometimes I feel that old.
I didn’t go to the track this year, electing instead to sleep late, then entertain a few friends. Yes, that is how fun I am in my middle-to-old age.
I wasn’t always so subdued (OK, I’ll admit, last night after my fourth glass of wine I wasn’t exactly subdued.)
Flashback to Derby 1980. I was only five finals from finishing my sophomore year in college. Seven days and five finals from finishing. So, as a study break, I got in the car and drove to Louisville with about 10 “friends” in tow for free room and board at my parents’ house. I put “friends” in quotation marks because some of those people had probably blackballed me from their sororities a scant sixteen months earlier … but they REALLY liked me when they found out I was from Louisville. This, however, was when I was young and stupid, so like a total moron, I invited the tramps to my childhood home.
(Now that I am mature, I have attained a level of vindictiveness that would have served me well in ’80. I should have told the wenches they had a place to stay and then showed them to the barn and the stall that I failed to clean for so long that my mother sold my horse.)
But because I was a good Derby host, I allowed my mother go stock up on beer and junk food for myself and the masses. To do my part, I baked a delicious-looking chocolate cake with chocolate icing for us to eat as dessert after a day in the infield. I even wowed everyone by writing HAPPY DERBY across the top of the two-layer delicacy in perfectly squirted white icing letters.
In return for all her work, all my mother asked me to do was take my little sister to the infield with me. Fair enough. Happy to help the family.
At the gate to the infield, we were frisked and interrogated, and then we relinquished our umbrellas and beverages and, quite possibly, I’m thinking, some of our virginities. But it all turned out fine and by 9 a.m. we had our blankets spread on the third turn and our hairiest guy friends standing in the beer line.
We lost my sister for about an hour and a half, but she was always much more self-sufficient than I was, so I didn’t panic. She returned at around 10:30, a little quiet, and promptly fell asleep, face down, hogging the blanket. But my mom always said to let sleeping dogs lie, which I am afraid is not the proper use of the word “lie,” as I believe it should be “lay,” but anyway, the point was well taken and my sister laid there, in the same position, until we got ready to leave at about 7:30 p.m.
When we roused her, she looked like someone had drawn a perfect line down the middle of her face and taken a magenta magic marker and colored half of it. Similarly, the back half of her body was beet red; her front unscathed. Again, a perfectly straight line ran down the side of her leg, separating the red from the white.
She was a little prone to sunburn, you see, well, not a LITTLE prone, actually, and uh, I guess I was too focused on the dog adage and forgot the one that says, “If your baby sister passes out, flip her occasionally and apply sunscreen.”
Well, I was plenty afraid that my mother was going to kill my sister or me or both of us, but luckily, just then my other sibling showed up so that I could ask his advice. There was my big brother, across the now-empty-except-for-an-enormous-amount-of-trash-and-vomit infield. So I hurried over to ask for help, except he was too busy collecting all the excellent electronics that had been left behind by minors who were inebriated by noon and, after a nap, got a second wind and went for the bonus buzz in the late afternoon. At first I thought he shouldn’t take other people’s possessions, but upon reminiscing about the guy who had tried to pee on me from the roof of the bathrooms, I joined my brother in collecting the treasures.
Somehow we finally got our group together and made it home. During the drive, I described to my friends the delicious dinner that awaited us, but warned them not to fill up on my mother’s stupid turkey tettrazini because the dessert was going to be ABSOLUTELY DIVINE.
When Watson, the springer spaniel, greeted us at the door, he bore, on the side of his face, this unmistakeable message: YBRED YPPAH, in nicely printed white letters.
Ah, the perfect end to the perfect day.
So now when you see all those ladies in their stunning hats, genteel-y sipping $8 mint juleps, just know that for every one of them there are THREE derelicts populating the infield: one with half her body burnt to a crisp and dried drool on her left cheek; one with coveted AM/FM radios and 8-track players jammed down his shorts; and one with a two-day hangover brewing and a psychology final in a day and a half.
And as long as we’re playing true confession, I wasn’t at all subdued last night, especially after my four glasses of wine and one mint julep and … OK, two mint juleps.
BUT IT WAS DERBY DAY.