Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Derby Surprise

My Dad called me today with the biggest news.  My mom lost her annual Derby tickets, finally, she has been missing the deadline and hanging on by a thread for a few years now.  It's funny.  The way it works is that you have to write in, that's right, I said write in each year to receive your tickets.  Then, they decided to make you pay licensing fees and a bunch of other bullshit to keep your tickets and then finally my mom became obsessed with selling stuff on Ebay and went on dialysis and good ol' Churchill Downs fell by the wayside.  My Aunt and Uncle still have their tickets, though, as she is a regular at the track, which is Churchill's target audience, so she was gracious enough to let Brad and I use hers this year.

Let me back up.  I have not finished telling you what a "traditional" Derby entails for Brad and I.  We usually go to the track around the third race.  Because we are cool, you see, and we do not want to appear too anxious.  Truth be told, we are a little foggy from going to Mr. G's the night before and my parents' enable us to sleep in and it is wonderful.

So on the way to the track, we pick up our box lunches at Heitzman's we ordered the day before, and then get all the makings for mimosas and a six pack of Tallboys - every year, like clockwork.  We park in this yard that is about as far away from our seats as you can get while still being right across from the track.  We might want to revisit that one day, but whatever, we know the people and it always makes for good stories.  I am in so good with the residents there that they allow me to use their bathroom which I usually share with one of their cats, while it goes to the bathroom in its litter box, in tandem with me. 

So we tailgate a little and then one of us usually does something like drop our phone in our beer (me, one year, him the next) and that is what signals to us that it is time to go into the track.  We hand our keys to the semi-strangers we see once a year so they can move our car as other people who have parked in their yard, come out of the Derby.  I know this seems weird to you, but it is one of those situations where you just have to trust people.

Another thing you need to realize is that Churchill Downs, (the part they don't show you, natch), is surrounded by ghetto.  It is one of the poorest areas of the city.  The people around there count on their proximity to Churchill Downs on Oaks and Derby Day, as a major source of income.  Therefore, they would only be hurting themselves if they stole from you, but people from out of town just see a Redneck in a wife beater with a cig hanging out of his mouth, ask you for the keys to your car as he takes your $50 for parking.  Valid observation, but this is the situation you are in, and you have to just roll with it, while you unplug your GPS and place it in your wife's clutch.

Now, it is interesting to note that last year, Brad and I broke from tradition, and he hired a driver off of Craig's List.  It was awesome.  He picked us up at my parents' house (My mom kept pretending to cry in case she never saw me again.  I mean, that woman!) and deposited us right at the appropriate gate nearest to our seats.  At the end of the day, he picked us up a little ways from the track, so as to avoid all of the traffic, and we were safely home in no time.

My childhood friend, Barry, rents his house out, cooks all meals, and provides transportation along with really good Derby tickets for the entire weekend for $18,000  for 6 people on Ebay. He is literally at your beck and call.  Brad and I were sitting at Mr. G's bar with him the night before Derby and one of the girls staying at his house called him on his cell phone because she needed a pack of cigarettes.  Brad and I were rolling.  But, I guess at $18,000, who really gets the last laugh?

So we go into the track, oh, vital tip, bring flip flops for walking to and from the track and for inclement weather - oh and if your feet hurt and you have had enough Mint Juleps that you don't care anymore.  I usually make it to the Derby and then I am done.  I also pack cash, hand sanitizer (which becomes like crack cocaine to those around you) and mints.

So, once in the track, we go immediately to the first window inside, and bet whatever race is next.  The rule is that you cannot get a Mint Julep, until you win a race.  This first bet sets the tone for the entire day, in my mind.  I think that first race determines whether you are going to lose or win for the day, therefore, knowing this, Brad wheels every horse in the race with the favorite, giving us the best shot at being "winners" for the day, and my greatest chance at getting my first Mint Julep.  That's right.  That's MY man.  We usually lose $10 on the race, while still managing to WIN that race and I am stirring my bourbon surrounded by crushed ice and a mint sprig in no time.

So my Dad calls last night and tells me that a supplier at work has offered him two tickets to the Derby with transportation and all of the free food and drinks you can handle.  Apparently, there is 3rd Floor Clubhouse access and the makings of a great adventure!  There is some sort of tent and all we have to do is show up at the Ford plant at 9am Derby morning.

My Dad tells him that I have three kids and that I probably can't make it that early (subtext I will be tired from Mr. G's the night before - I mean, that man KNOWS me).  The supplier says he will bring him the tickets for us on Thursday, after his trip to "DEE-troit" - my Dad's pronunciation, LOVE IT. 

"Dad, Oh My God, just tell him that we will be there at 9!  He is providing us with everything!  The least we can do is show up.  We'll take it easy the night before, I swear."

"Um hum."  This is my Dad's version of the word "bullshit".  My kids even imitate him doing it when they tell him they have a tummy ache in the morning and the only thing that will soothe it is a bowl of Oreos.

Oh!  And I almost forgot...the supplier dude is Japanese!  Yea!  I just loves me some Japanese!  So, SURPRISE BRAD.  We are about to embark on yet another Derby together!  This one seems ripe for many inside jokes and material for this blog.

Although, with our luck, we'll probably end up on a blanket in the infield, eating cold fried chicken with hooch stains around our mouths.  Been there.  Done that.  In high school AND college.  It's gotta be just as fun at 41!

This entire week's recommendation is to go to The Derby at least once in your lifetime.  Put it on your bucket list NOW people!  I'll give you Barry's number for next year!

Hat is from Cheesecake Boutique on Lane Avenue.  Wore it last year and my dress this year is from there.

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