The Kentucky Oaks Race (Fillies only) takes place the day before the Kentucky Derby. It is truly a day all about da girls. And on a day when everything revolves around the female of the species, our latest Excellent Adventure was no exception.
We set out for Churchill Downs decked out in new frocks and sporting fabulous chapeaux. Of course, arriving at the perfect outfit was not without angst as we were tossing dresses in the air like Joe Namath used to complete passes. It was my daughter’s thirteenth birthday and she brought a friend, so it was us four girls (OK I use the term “girls” loosely as I’m sure we’re considered past that age) off for a day of racing and celebrating.
As my luck (or lack of it) would have it, the weather forecasters were again way off on the day’s temps. More 50ish than 70ish. So we, as women are want to do, sacrificed the creature comforts of a warm coat or sweater for the sake of maintaining our fashion sense. Translation: We froze our asses off because we hadn’t been smart enough to throw a sweater in the car and even if we had we would never have put them on and ruined our “look.”
The Kentucky Oaks really was a scene; full of women in outfits that ranged from the outrageous to the sublime. Sorry men, it just ain’t about you today; it’s all about the women’s hats and outfits. No one gives a damn about what kind of suit or blazer the guy’s got on.
We hooted and hollered for our fillies but apparently we did not hoot or holler nearly enough as none of our picks came out on top. But it didn’t matter; it was all about the experience. Even the young ladies with us seemed to soak up the atmosphere and file away future Oaks and Derby fashion do’ss and don’ts.
As Oaks Day drew to its conclusion, we faced our greatest challenge. Earlier we had paid $20 to park in someone’s front yard right next to the track. When we came back to claim the car, we realized to our horror that we were boxed-in ten deep. Strung in front of my car was a steel cable attached to two steel beams that were embedded in concrete and sunk into the ground. It didn’t look promising.
My daughter and her friend resigned themselves to the fact that we were going to be there for awhile; ah, ye of little faith. Ellen and I inspected the cable and determined if we could get a wrench, we could unscrew one end of the cable. This would allow us to drop the cable and drive off free and clear. So here we are in our finery, as we proceed to go up to the “houses” next door (OK, they’re more like shanties but I use the term “house” loosely) and ask the gentlemen (again a term I use loosely) if they have a wrench? We were the block’s entertainment, as at one point we had five guys standing around my car scratching their heads trying to figure out what to do. It was clear we’d have to go to Plan B.
Plan B entailed me ramming the cable with my car, which loosened one of the steel beams from the ground. OK, this is our ticket outta here. Meanwhile, the guy in the Saab behind me has shown up and is whining about how he can’t get out and he doesn’t have any ice to make himself a drink from his well-stocked trunk. Oh poor baby! We realize we can pull this post out of the ground with a little man – or shall I say – woman power. Ellen asks Mr. Saab for some male assistance; his answer: “I’m holding the cable.” Typical. So my daughter, her friend, Ellen and I, mount a huge effort and haul this steel post right out of the ground.
Hallelujah, at last we’re free. And I mean in more ways than one. I had inadvertently given my daughter the best birthday gift; the gift of self-reliance. Today she learned that two determined, clever women are worth more than six big men and a trunk full of booze.
Go ahead, pay the lady.