In Which I Make Some Lame Excuses

14 04 2010

There are three vaguely legitimate reasons for the drought in blog posts here in this digital repository of my musings. The first holds only the barest shreds of legitimacy, but I have to admit the release of Final Fantasy XIII and my subsequent drive to finish the long-winded RPG swallowed two weeks pretty much straight up. No sooner had I grown bored with the ridiculous storyline than I found my free time corralled by the wanderings of the rag-tag group of misfits aboard “Firefly.” Naturally, it would only do to watch the entire series and then the two-hour movie. On top of all this, I’ve been running a number of miles each day to shape up for a half-marathon in June, an activity that can actually be justified as a productive use of my daily allotment of non-work time.

While the running continues, the rest is in the past and I hope to bring more tales of interest and adventure to this space (and actual space if possible, I’m looking at you blog-reading astronauts) on a regular basis. Take, for example, this fasciniting story of fast horses, women in nice dresses and a man who places terrible bets on which one comes in first (the horses that is, not the women).

It appeared in the journal of record for Nelson County, Kentucky, on April 14. Also, there was an article about a man of short stature and little hair becoming a superintendent and revelation of the reason why anyone would actually want to be county clerk.

As natives of Lexington, my parents often took my siblings and me on visits away from the flat Illinois cornfields where I grew up to the green, rolling hills of their ancestral state.

On such vacations, we would stay at my grandma’s house and visit with cousins, but every now and then, we would do something a little more exciting. Aunts, uncles, brothers, sisters and cousins would venture out to a venue synonymous with Kentucky, the Keeneland racetrack.

As a kid, I looked forward to these opportunities. It always seemed like an exciting adventure, a kind of spectacle completely foreign to my central Illinois hometown.

Of course, my dad would let me pick out a horse I liked in each race and place a $2 bet, so theoretically I had something at stake. In truth, I would find an equine racer with a cool name and then completely forget about it until my father told me whether I won or not.

Not only was the gambling aspect over my head, so was nearly everybody else. For this reason, I would scramble toward the fence where I could face the track directly. And for a while, nothing would happen. I had a good view of the dirt in front of me, but that was about it.

At some point, the air around me would shift and I would get the sense that the race had begun. Minutes later, there would be muted thunder of the hooves churning up the track and then the animals themselves, briefly, would rush by me.

As a kid, it’s easy to absorb and mimic the moods and actions of adults, even if you do not know why they are feeling or acting that way. So I would shout and yell as the horses rounded the track, only vaguely aware of the reasoning behind the excitement.

I visited Keeneland last weekend for the first time since I have been able to bet under my own power and though my understanding of the event has improved, my ability to choose a winning horse remains at an elementary-school level.

My wagers were based on little more than a loose collection of the horse’s name, the odds on it and “what the cheat sheet says?” I assume the “cheat” refers to the amount of money you lose following its advice.

Now, as an adult what I enjoyed most about the tracks had nothing to do with the activities my older age made available to me. Instead, it was the fun of mingling with the parade of people that pass through the turnstiles at a place such as Keeneland.

From sundress and high heels to cut-off shorts and flip-flops, the background color was constantly shifting and conversations wafted in and out with the spring breezes.

The crowd gathered seemed to extend to all ages, backgrounds and perspectives. It was a giant melting pot of diverse experiences focused into a single shout when that longshot horse starts moving down the middle of the track. That piece of paper in your hand tied you together with all the other people with pieces of paper in their hands.

And sometimes that little slip turns into real money and sometimes that come-from-behind bet is perfectly content just staying behind. As I sat relaxing on one of Keeneland’s green benches, my skin warm from the sun, I knew it really didn’t matter. Win or lose, I still enjoyed the moment.

ˆEdit: Also, forget to add that I have now loosened the authoritarian holds on the commenting and made it so that they are instantly posted. Go crazy, people.

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3 responses

15 04 2010
Becky

Loved it. You made me laugh out loud like twice from thinking of you as a little kid cheering for no reason. Fab.

15 04 2010
relativepragmatism

Indeed, this is similar to my other childhood habit of falling down at random moments for no reason.

22 04 2010
David Pham

Final Fantasy 13, huh? Well, I stopped playing RPG’s for the reason you described above: it can suck 2 weeks easy. I so want to play Mass Effect 2, FF 13, and God of War 3, but alas, to do so is to waiver my time for creating stuff, hanging out with my main squeeze, and playing with my puppy.

Frank, create more stuff. Your writing is stellar. Good as K.Vonnegut, but not as insane.

By the way, don’t you miss pizza rolls. I do.

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