written by my dad, Bob Briggs 1943-2011
“Of course we’re going to Oklahoma City for Derby Day,” declared Val vehemently. “Haven’t we always gone for the past several years? It’s imperative that we go. It’s our sworn duty! I’ll call Doc for some cash tonight. What ‘da ya think? About 500 bucks sound right for this gig?”
Val was still feeding off his victory earlier that day when he and his long-suffering partner had taken the retired marine flyer and the long-knocking kid out on the ninth hole of the Sequoyah Golf club, and Val was bouncing around like a ping-pong ball.
Of course the twelve pack I brought along for the peace offering was down to the last two beers and that wasn’t helping matters much either.
But Val is like a clam. Open his head and put an idea in and watch it grow into a gem of an idea. All I had done to bring forth this idea was to ask Val if we were going to OKC for the running of the Kentucky Derby.
Doc is an old friend from our younger days. But not wanting to bore you with the details of his misspent youth, I’ll just say that Doc listened to his body and slowed his activities (both legal and illegal) way down. Doc is a song writer par excellence, and his trilogy about the outlaw Ned Christie is worth traveling many miles to hear.
It has been several years since I have been to the Kentucky Derby. I believe it was the year that Dust Commander, the 16 to 1 shot, won the run for the roses. Silent Screen, the horse that I had bet heavily on was leading the race coming into the final turn faded badly and finished the fifth hole.
On Saturday morning of race day, the infield at Louisville will resemble a huge outdoor looney bin. The whole grass meadow will be covered with people from all walks of life. The cheap seats. That slice of life that would invariably draw me to its confines like a moth to an open flame.
Fifty thousand people, most of them stumbling drunk, jammed backside to belly button. It’s a fantastic scene. What with people laughing, crying, fainting, copulating, and trampling each other.
People from all walks of life, getting angrier and angrier as they lose more and more money. By mid afternoon they’ll be swilling Mint Juleps with both hands and vomiting on each other between races.
The regulars at Churchill Downs, serious betters included, spend most of the day in the paddock area. They can hunker down with a tall glass of Old Fitzgerald, while watching the flashing lights and the many changing odds of the huge tote boards.
But I have seen the whiskey gentry in action. Buy the ticket, take the ride. The Age of Aquarius is over, now for seven years of healing and mending while the country gets back in shape. To get quietly and pleasantly drunk and try not to offend anyone. To get along, go along.
I sure need to break even over at Okie City this weekend, because I need the money.