by Kaelan Hollon
** The following story is for entertainment purposes only and does not represent the lifestyle or opinions of it's author. All semblance to 'real' individuals is coincidental. This is narrative fiction. **
Staring down the long, cold barrel of a Kentucky State Trooper's handgun at 2:49 in the morning in the first weekend of May is not a fun way to bide time. Kentucky takes its horses very, very seriously, and attempting to hop on a $120,000 thoroughbred during one's stay in the Bluegrass State does not a good Derby Day make, as a friend of mine recently found out. Handcuffs hurt. And the jails in the Commonwealth? Let me tell you something, Bubba, they ain't a bit of fun.
But I've been on the right side of a Kentucky Derby party or two, as well. As a native Kentuckian and vice-laden debutante esquire extraordinaire, I'm obliged to give you some tips on throwing a Kentucky Derby party that'll blow yer' hair back. And I've got two words for you May 7 party-planners out there, from the mouth of a born-and-bred Kentuckian:
In life, as with the Kentucky Derby, you're one of two things: you're either Infield or Clubhouse. Your Kentucky Derby party, in order to be the liver-shuddering mention of hangovers evermore, needs to decide which one of these two options it's going to be.
An 'Infield' party, reflecting the debaucherous chicanery the inner sanctum Churchill Downs is infamous for, must encompass all that is lurid and slimy and wrought of cheap liquor and gambling in the land of Cantuck. My father, who was a raucous Infield attendee during the Derby's heyday in the 1970s, still shudders recalling the scenes ("Jesus, I couldn't believe the whole group of them doing those sexual acts ON TOP OF THE FOUNTAIN -- she had things put in places I would never imagine,") and the sights, ("Have you ever seen a port-o-potty overflowing with vomit, Kaelan.... WELL HAVE YOU?"), of the Kentucky Derby.
Consider the following list as a sort of Infield Zeitgeist, a rough guesstimate of the sights and sounds a good Infield Kentucky Derby party might encompass:
Infield: Buckets of Jim Beam poured over the breasts of 18-year-old girls, homemade hooch, "Nattie" Light, sleeves ripped off your t-shirt, mullet wigs, Camaro with a pair of fuzzy dice in the rear-view, cut-offs, greyhound gambling, plastic yard chairs, jaundiced yellow cheeks of the old men who wait for their death along the sidelines of the track, "Naked" contests by 3 PM, Skynard, eating the hamburger you just dropped on the ground at your cookout, charcoal setting someone's hair on fire, forgetting the gate time and missing the race, making out with your roommate, making out with your roommates mother, making out with your dog, show girls, trucker speed, lot lizards, more whiskey, thrown out of Wal-Mart for Drunk and Disorderly, winning $300 because the 4 horse reminded you of your ex-girlfriend (when it warmed up on the track and dropped a load), passing out in a pool of pus and fried food and horses at 8 PM, when you're just too tired and sunburnt to care anymore.
This is Infield.
But a Clubhouse Kentucky Derby party, now..that's a whole different story. The social dichotomy of a racetrack reflects the eerie economic polarity of much of the South. Clubhouse parties can end up just as drunken, naked, and law-breaking as any Infield party I've seen, but it's all about the medium, not the message. In the Clubhouse of Churchill Downs, you'll find the politicos rubbing elbows with last year's No. 1 NBA draft pick, the women preening like the thoroughbreds they're spending $500 a bet on. There's just as much underscored sin going on as you'll find out in that hot, sweaty mass of Infielders, but the Clubhouse has the guise of maturity, a genuflection to the Bluegrass State's deities of Bourbon and Horses.
A laundry list for a Clubhouse Kentucky Derby party?...You bet:
Clubhouse: live Bluegrass music, bourbon, Derby Pie, seersucker, broad brim hats, bulbous red nose and cheeks from lifelong politicians who flock to mock elitism like moths on false light, silk ties, sleeves rolled up and a money clip, fast girls and pretty horses, $600 J.Peterman leather suitcase with a bottle of single malt scotch stashed inside next to bus money to get home, chiffon dresses that hang against a woman's skin like a bad lover, riding boots, tailored three piece suits, good shoes with puke stains, mint julep, hooking up with your Charm School instructor, winning it all, losing everything and having to sell your shoes and your first born child, breath like ragged hay from the bourbon and the mint and the chocolate and sheer sex of watching your money and sin float by that race track like a wet dream.
Ah, that's the Clubhouse.
So saddle up, "Git 'Er Dun," and in the words of my father as I left for the track last year, "For God's Sake Kaelan--- at least give them a fake name this year. I don't care how many midgets and mai-tais and bourbon there is, don't let anyone take any pictures, and please...leave your bail money here with me before you go to Louisville."