Sunday, May 8, 2011

Kentucky Derby for Beer Bucks

Last night I dreamt I was at work. Making sales from a large office set up like stadium seating, an exaggerated lecture hall configuration. The whole thing flowed like a bizarre game. Make a sale, pop a crumbled piece of paper into a basket at the front of the room. Make it in there. Then wiggle out from the seat and slide down to the next row via a dry slip and slide aisle. This continued until finally one made it out of the front row, towards the door, and on our way home. Pretty symbolic of life, of careers if you ask me. I continued to wiggle on my belly along the median of Lake Shore Drive on a slimy slip and slide all of the way home, while shifting slivers of paper out from my pockets, leaving them behind to the drift of cars to my sides.

Yesterday was the Kentucky Derby! I'm not usually intense about sports but Animal Kingdom's sprint to the finish stirred my blood. It was a neat turn of events for that team of horse, jockey, trainer, owner. I thought about my Dad quite a bit yesterday (he passed away from a battle with cancer in 2002). He had fervently made his way to the Kentucky Derby for many (30 some?) years to partake in the debauchery of the infield. He began his venture there in his early college days by hitchhiking down there, clothes in a brown grocery bag. I've often heard stories from him while listening to ball games on the radio during a hot summer night's ride in the car, and recently my Mother found a folder of his writings - memoirs of his experiences at the Derby. These are quite educational. My coworker Andrew actually went to the Derby this weekend. I've been meaning to make my way down there one of these days, carry on my father's tradition. Maybe next year I'll finally do it. Andrew offered to place a bet for me. I passed on the offer as I'm not necessarily in the financial position to be betting on horses.

But the urge did come to me. When I was 8 at we lived in Pittsburgh my Dad would often take us to a "Downs" outside the city and place bets for us. This was something I got quite into, and overly passionate about. When my horse did not do well, I'd be in angry tears. I liked winning some dollars and the fast paced announcement of the hard trotting positions. So this weekend I devised a betting system with my girlfriend. We'd each write down our picks for places 1, 2, 3. We'd compare our first place picks with the final results, whoever finished best, got 3 points. We'd do the same for our second place picks for 2 points. And the same for third for 1 point. Whoever had the most points got to drag the other to Binny's and choose up to $20 of liquor. Despite my best pick placing 8th (Stay Thirsty, I picked in homage to my hero, the Most Interesting Man in the World) I won! So next weekend I will be redeeming for some tasty craft beers. Or maybe some Mint Juleps to keep the taste in my mouth.

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