Sunday, April 19, 2009

Block House Steeplechase

Yesterday Haskell and Susan and I all went to the races, as you can probably tell from the FIFTY or so pictures of horses that now adorn my flickr stream. I swear, it looks a lot like my notebooks from 4th grade. Little known factoid about Felicity: not only was I one of those horse crazy girls, I actually rode horses fairly seriously, as in almost every day of my life, from age 5 to age 16. I even competed in horse shows and owned a horse named Alfie. Then I discovered sex and drugs and rock n' roll and horses, alas, went by the wayside. Anyway, I'd heard of the Block House Steeplechase, but it had never occurred to me to attend until Haskell sent an email saying he had tickets. I had one of those crises of conscience at first: I should stay home and work on the mosaics! Clean the house! Walk the dogs! And so on but fortunately bad sense prevailed and off we went to the races.

It was awesome. Couldn't have been a more beautiful day with everything green and glowing and the sun pouring down. We had a great spot that immediately raised our socioeconomic status by about 12 points - when we went to walk around, we thought momentarily of locking our purses in the car instead of just leaving them in full view with the windows open. Then we looked around us. "Every single person here," I said, "Has more money in their glove compartments than the three of us make in a year combined. They do not want or need my collection of maxed credit cards, old kleenex and half empty Altoids tins."

We had stopped at the Bi Lo on the way in to get beer and ice and cigarettes (which sadly were no cheaper in SC than they are in NC. WTF, South Carolina? You are the closest thing I have to a home state. I count on you for cheap cigarettes and embarrassing anecdotes.) and there we also bought some very fetching $5 straw hats which proved to be a godsend: first, by making us blend with the crowd and second, by preventing sunstroke. So, suitably adorned and with a lace tablecloth on our tailgate - Haskell did the tickets. I did the food (rather well, if I do say so myself) and Susan did the beer & cigarettes. This division of labor worked out nicely. - and sweet tea vodka tonics in hand, we strolled. We saw ladies in hats with horses on them and groups who had brought champagne and people in jodhpurs and tailgate picnics with candelabra and merry go round horses and an entire truckload of people dressed up like hippies. There were people in Victorian costumes driving shiny horses pulling small carriages and children throwing footballs and all in all it was totally bucolic and Edwardian and great. Lots of people were drinking with the kind of dedication and style that it often takes a lifetime and an Episcopal church membership to achieve.

We brought Mojo, who proved to be a great icebreaker, even before he realized that there were giant squirrels running fast and nobody was barking at them or chasing them! Mojo took that responsibility upon himself, at least as far as the barking went. We were inexplicably reluctant to let him chase the giant squirrels, go figure. I had thought about bringing my dogs but really, the only reason to bring my dogs to things like that is to either insure that everyone has a really horrible time or - my brilliant new business plan - to collect money from all the people who would be begging me to take them away.

The races were really exciting. None of us had ever been to a horse race before and had no idea what to expect. Do all horse races have fabulously world weary British announcers? If not, they should. During the second race, a jockey fell off at one fence. I was right there, pressed up against the fence with some lovely older ladies in extravagant hats. The jockey got up and ran off the track. "What happened?" cried the ladies, "Did he fall? Is he hurt?" He seemed to be okay and oh frabjous wonderful day, his horse kept right on running the race with the others. They had two more laps to do and the riderless horse was right up there towards the front of the pack, running well. He did avoid a couple jumps though, which I thought was eminently sensible and he finally didn't finish, but we were all rooting for him.

People were saying that the crowd was about half the size it usually is and I must say it was perfect. I'd heard bad things about the crowding and the rowdy drunks and so on but actually everyone was incredibly nice and there was plenty of room to get up close to the track and take pictures. It was a great and brilliant day and next year we are totally going back with candelabras and way more people. Maybe by then my dogs will be civilized enough to attend.


Haskell said...

It was indeed a lovely afternoon, thanks to great weather, setting, food, drink, entertainment, and especially company. Glad y'all could make it down. Yes, let's do it again next year, definitely.

Haskell said...

Hey does Susan have a flickr site as well? I'm sure everyone would like to see the photos she took of you with YOUR hat on.

mygothlaundry said... is Susan's flickr stream.

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