Taking Down The Whole Loaf: Observations From The Kentucky Derby

Taking Down The Whole Loaf: Observations From The Kentucky Derby

I’m walking up to the Kentucky Derby gates. A man is selling bootleg T-shirts that read, “I Beat The Pussy Up!”. If you’re going to buy one pussy-centric shirt on your way to the horse race billed as “The Most Important Two Minutes In Sports History”, I don’t think you’re going to find a better offering, unless Cat Fancy Magazine sells shirts at the Derby. Cat Fancy Magazine, you really dropped the ball on this one. And batted it around a little. Next year, I think the T-shirt guy should aim higher, with an “I Beat The Pussy Up!” seersucker suit. He could also sell it to local productions of To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s never too late for a more modern take on Atticus Finch.

Men at the Derby are dressed in classic blazers, Madras jackets, Bermuda Pink polos, and sock-less loafers. ‘Finally,’ I think to myself, ‘The Kentucky Derby has provided an opportunity for all the bullies from 80’s movies to get together at one event.’ One of my friends is wearing overalls, in the spirit of Kentucky, or more specifically, the spirit of the common rabble of the Kentucky Derby infield. A man in a sport coat sees him, turns to his companion and says, “See! There are rednecks here!”

I’m standing in line, waiting to place a bet. An older woman with leathery skin and a husky smoker’s voice approaches me and says, “Let me get some of that white shit.” Not without a hefty stud fee, madam. She points at my suntan lotion. I squeeze lotion into her hands while her shirtless redneck husband looks on wordlessly. Is this what middle-aged swinging is like? If only the bootleg T-shirt salesman could see me now! Or Harper Lee. One or the other. The Pulitzer-Prize-winning author of the novel To Kill a Mockingbird or the man hawking “I Beat The Pussy Up!” shirts at The Kentucky Derby are both equal in the eyes of the dangerously tanned woman into whose palms I’m pouring a generous amount of lotion.

A beautiful blonde with freckled shoulders walks by and gives the redneck a distasteful look. She scowls and says, “Ugh. Disgusting. You need to put a shirt on.” The redneck looks stunned. He finally retorts, “You need to take your shirt off, bitch!” But it’s too late. She’s already disappeared into the crowd, like the Lady of the Lake diving into the water after handing a potbellied King Arthur the Excalibur of random insults. And me his Merlin, looking for a place to set my used Gatorade bottle down.

I sip a mint julep from a glass with the name of every horse that’s ever won the Kentucky Derby written on it. A lovely girl standing near the Port-A-Potties repeatedly hikes up her dress, showing everyone her underwear. In my distraction, I set my glass down and forget to take it with me before I finish reading all the horses’ names. Sorry, winning horses. There’s just no competing with being flashed by a drunk lady, which is why very few poetry readings share the stage with wet T-shirt contests. Later, I see a woman who has tucked her souvenir mint julep Derby glass between her breasts. Well played, Kentucky-Derby-winning horses. But I’m still not reading the list of your names.

I meet a man and woman from West Virginia. “Oh, that’s where the Fresh Prince is from.” I say, drunkenly. “In West Virginia, born and raised.” I have had a lot of bourbon and mint juleps by this point. “I think the Fresh Prince is from Philadelphia.” says the woman. My mistake. It was probably the cabbie with the license plate that said “Fresh”, whom Will Smith promised to smell later, that was from West Virginia.

I’m waiting in line for a beer. A drunk white guy in a backwards hat leans over the beer counter and says to no one in particular, “White bread…white bread… this place is too white bread!” Presumably he had just left the stables, where he’d been crying, “Horses…horses… this place has too many horses!” You tell em’, white bread. They say all it takes is one disgruntled end piece to take down the whole loaf.

I pass a girl wearing Frida Kahlo earrings. I bet Frida Kahlo would have never tucked a mint julep between her breasts. Come to think of it, I’m not sure what famous women artists keep between their breasts. Lockets containing pictures of their muse, probably. Ladies, might I recommend having “I Beat The Pussy Up!” engraved on your muse lockets? To keep them close to your heart. Your heart’s pussy, I mean. Which is to say, the metaphorical cat that lives in all of our hearts, and gives us artistic inspiration with his enchanted whiskers.

I’m waiting for the race to start. I see a man in nothing but a bow tie and jeans examining his betting slip. He looks like a Chippendales dancer. I hope he wins big on the ponies. Or at the very least, I hope when he gets back to his job as a male stripper, he gets lots of tips as he gives lap-dances to Ginuwine’s “Pony”. A lap-dance set to the song “Pony”, not a lap-dance given to an actual miniature horse owned by Ginuwine. I’m pleased to report that horse-human lap-dance societal barriers remain firmly in place.

The race begins! Everyone is jumping up in the air and yelling, holding their betting slips. I’m jumping and yelling, too. Go, you goddam horses! Run like the West Virginian Fresh Prince ran from those guys at the basketball court that were up to no good! My horse comes in second, and I win forty dollars. See you on next year’s mint julep glass, winning horse, presumably in someone’s cleavage.

I’m stuck in a huge crowd of people leaving the Derby. Someone passes cookies around. A woman next to me puts a cookie in the mouth of the bare-chested man behind her. See, that’s how you treat men who aren’t wearing shirts at the Derby. You feed them a cookie! Be careful, though. If you feed a mouse a cookie, he will want a glass of milk. If you feed a shirtless guy at the Kentucky Derby a cookie, he will want you to show him your boobs. Like a drunken, sunburned horny mouse. That’s what mice are all about! They love softcore public nudity. Which is why I bait my mouse traps with vintage pin-ups and dirty playing cards. Wait, am I trying to catch a mouse or someone’s grandfather?

The crowd bottlenecks into a tunnel. Everyone is hot and sweaty and tired. The crowd chants “USA! USA! USA!” A man inside the tunnel plays the national anthem on a saxophone. A girl walking next to me says, “God! I wish everybody would just move!” Then she pauses, looks up at her boyfriend and says, “Sorry. I’m being a bitch.” Correction, young lady. You’re being a patriotic bitch.

On the way to the car, I see the T-shirt guy again. He’s now selling shirts that say, “If You Ain’t Here To Party, Take Your Bitch Ass Home!!” I take the T-shirt’s advice, and take my bitch ass home.

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