The Bugger Came In Third

I told Tom I do not have a polka-dot dress. He assured me I did not need one. What did we see before we even left the parking lot? A tall, amply built woman sashaying to the entry gate, wearing a broad-brimmed hat and a black & white polka-dot dress.

Ah, well, no matter. Attending Cromwell’s Christmas at the Races is much like going to a Renaissance Fair…thousands of people preening in parade, with eating and drinking and being seen the order of the day. It is a festival. It is a race. It is prom night without a chaperon.

 

Barefoot mum sets the brakes on her baby's carriage.
Barefoot mum getting ready to set the brake on her baby’s carriage.

 

Poised and posed while on the phone.
Poised and posed while on the phone.

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Decision making.
Quite studious.

 

While I sport tennis shoes with socks and arch-support inserts, the gals wear every kind of wedge, platform, toe-biting high-heeled shoe one might imagine, and some that only a devil could devise.

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It was all about the hats and shoes today, and a bit about the horses.

 

The girls are beautiful, strutting across the grassy knolls and flats, eyes bright, lips shiny and red, dresses flowing, hats slightly askew and precarious but pinned and unmoving–or, no hats at all.

 

Holding hands, having fun, anticipating a great day at the races.
Holding hands, having fun, anticipating a great day at the races.

 

The gents, many in suits, vests, and dress pants, stand at the ready to be of any service.
The gents, many in silk vests and dress pants, stand at the ready to be of any service.

 

We had no idea that the horse races might coincide with our stay in Cromwell, but Christmas at the Races is a big event. Thousands of people come from miles around, hotels fill to the brink, and dresses of every variety flow and lift in the gentle breeze. Had the races been yesterday, the costuming would have been a disaster with rain falling and winds gusting. Today the winds are mild, the sky is clear, and a faint but heady aroma of coconut oil mingles with the scents of cotton candy and crispy-fried treats on sticks.

 

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It was a hard decision, but we opted for the Turkish treats: lamb wrap, which we carried off to share in the shade.
It is a hard decision, but we opt for a Turkish treat: a tasty lamb wrap that we carry off to share in the shade.

 

This chap went for the whitebait fritter sandwich. Whitebait: whitish fish, smaller than your pinkie, a local delicacy.
This chap goes for the whitebait-fritter sandwich. Whitebait: a pale white-ish fish, smaller than your pinkie, that is a favorite local delicacy.

 

Warming up before the race.
Warming up before the race.

 

Powerful and ready, some of them kicking and stomping with anticipation, the horses were eager to enter the racing stalls.
Powerful and ready, some of them kicking and stomping with anticipation, the horses are eager to enter the racing stalls.

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AND . . . they're off!
AND . . . they’re off! (No, they didn’t really say that.)

 

Rounding the final corner.
Rounding the final corner.

 

The tickets tell the tale.
The tickets tell the tale.

 

 

This intense fellow, shouting "C'mon Eleven, Run fer it!" settles back in his chair after the race, lamenting, "Ahh, the bugger came in third!"
This intense fellow, shouting “C’mon 11, run fer it!” settles back in his chair after the race, lamenting, “Ahhagh, the bugger came in third!”

 

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(The Bugger)

 

As the hours pass and we watch the third race of five, we decide to amble on out to the parking lot. We have seen the pretty side of the day.

At this hour, the beauty and excitement falter. The girls begin to wobble on their heels or to take them off entirely.

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Beverage lines grow too long, overheard conversations are lousy with four-letter words, and queues at the toilet positively wriggle with urgency. (We avert our eyes from the unfortunate fellow who relieves himself, leaning against the backside of an occupied porta-potty, alongside the roadway where we walk.)

Two more races to go, but we head for the finish line.

 

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Back at our motel, off our feet and settled at our picnic table, we slice cheeses and dine on crackers while we marvel at the day, the dresses, the hats couture, the drinking, and the horses that flew past.

3 Responses

    1. Suzzanne Kelley

      Thank you, Betty. What I didn’t describe is my sunburn, but you would have enjoyed everything else and I bet you’d have found the perfect spot to set up your easel.

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