Saturday, May 05, 2007

Virginia Gold Cup: A Cold Day at the Races

On the way out to The Plains, I was thinking I would write a blog photo essay entitled "On what it's like to be young, waspy, and Republican." Even as I was sitting there amongst everyone in my green plaid sundress and crisp white cardigan, it seemed like all of the pink shirts and seersucker (on guys) and pastel dresses and hats (on girls) were things to be mocked. But I only had my cell phone in my teeny-tiny little purse, and my friend forgot to charge her camera battery. So no pictures.

We got there around 11 am, and it was horribly overcast and freezing cold. And, for some insane reason, at that time, my friend's employer's tent had no coffee or tea or hot water or space heaters or, well, anything except alcohol. So, I started drinking mint juleps to warm up. With every sip, I would shudder and then feel a tiny little bit of warmth radiate through my body. But, on the most part, I wasn't getting warmer. The food eventually came, but even that didn't help.

At some point, my frozen little body meandered over to the concession area where I bought a t-shirt to wear over my sundress, which made my upper body a little warmer -- but my poor legs were still exposed to the elements. Why a t-shirt? Because the souvenir stalls had sold out of sweatshirts and fleeces. All of the women in the entire place were freezing. Women who had never even been up close to a horse before were buying riding jackets to zip over their candy-colored frocks.

Someone told me that it was warmer in the port-a-potties, but I didn't care to check.

By noon, the women in my tent were drinking mimosas so quickly that the champagne was running low. I stuck to the mint juleps, since they were apropos of the occasion -- and whiskey warms me up way faster than champagne. People were meandering around the tent, lining up at the rails when the horses came by, but I pretty much stayed put in my seat. When the horses would come by, people would cheer. I would say, "Yay, a horse," to whomever was listening. They'd laugh, which is bad, since you should never encourage me. So eventually, I was saying it whenever they played the music signaling the start of a race.

Most of the men, though, seemed okay -- since they were in long pants and jackets. Surprisingly, the white suits and pastel shirts and ties were not as hideous as they originally seemed. Although -- let this be a warning -- pink shirts and yellow bow ties do not go together. And don't get me started on seersucker.

Then the skies opened up.

Now everyone was equally miserable.

Even before the rain got bad, my friend had started asking around about whether anyone wanted to leave early. On her first go-round, she had about 20 people willing to leave as soon as they'd let us have a bus. But the woman in charge would not let us leave early, insisting that all of the buses would leave at 5:30 as originally scheduled. But people kept asking. Eventually the bus nazi relented a little and said that one of the buses would be opened so we could go sit in it and warm up.

Then, around 3:00, we were told that, as soon as a bus was full, it could leave. People ran for the bus. We rode back to DC with two extra people squished in, because we didn't want to leave anyone behind in the cold and rain. I was so thankful to get home to my apartment -- where I quickly changed into jeans and climbed into bed and slept for 4 hours.

So, that's it. I'm sure Gold Cup is cute and everything when it's warm and sunny. But rain and cold mixed with sundresses and alcohol do not equal a fun day.


mad said...

Sounds like a miserable excursion--braving bad weather with a bunch of mopes dressed like Tucker Carlson.

DSL said...

True, but you have a story to tell afterwards. I had a similar experience myself a few years ago. If the weather cooperated, it could be fun as a novelty.

dara said...

Mad: The weather was miserable. And a lot of the people were WAY more popped-collar than I prefer.

DSL: I was hoping to tell a story of mocking, not a story of woe. But yeah, even though I really wanted to make fun of all the preppies, I think that drinking mint juleps and watching horses while wearing a cute outfit could have been fun in good weather.

Miss Scarlet said...

I love out there and have never been to Gold Cup. Can you believe it?!

dara said...

I can think of a lot of reasons not to pay all that money to get dressed up and watch horses run around while you're freezing cold. Then again, if someone offers you free tickets, you should totally take them up on it.

Anonymous said...

Sorry you had a bade experience in the Gold Cup. I live in Middlbeurg on my horse farm. You should come for the fall races (oct 20 2007) as my guest I promise you a great time. AG Cell: 540.295.0559