30 January 2007

Misspent Youth

So yesterday sucked. Big time. It was not one of my better days at work, Barbaro, the race horse, died, and then I came home feeling crappy and made the mistake of watching the news.

I am very attached to race horses, and also to the New Bolton Center of the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. There is no place in the universe where Barbaro could have received better care, or been with people (besides his owners of course) who really truly cared about how he was doing. Another topic altogether, though.

Today, I was thinking about my relationship with thoroughbreds, and I thought of an amusing story to share. Since I don't currently have any knitting to show you, and am still at the very very beginning of a couple of projects, I thought I'd post about Days at the Races with My Parents.

As you may have determined from previous posts, my family did not have a lot in common with Ozzie and Harriet, or the Brady Bunch, or just about any other "ideal" American family. My parents were two individuals who were extroverts with a lot of friends, but also didn't care if everyone they met liked them, or approved of them. (How many times growing up did I hear the toast: "Here's to those who love me well, all the rest can go to hell"? Enough times that I thought it was a regular (i.e., acceptable) toast ...) This is a trait I admired in both of them, but was also sometimes problematic.

One of my parents' favorite pastimes was going to the races, particularly the horse races. And most of the time, the whole family went. We would get to the race track, and my parents would get the racing form, decide their bets, buy their tickets, etc., while my sisters and I would have a soda, or potato chips, or just enjoy seeing the various people who were also there at the racetrack.** Of course, once any race where either of my parents had placed a bet began, we would all cheer for the horse. (We especially liked it when my father would win, as he would share the winnings with us.) This was a pretty regular weekend event for us.

One Monday morning, when I was probably in second or third grade, Sister Mary Snoop was going around the class, asking everyone how they had spent time together as a family over the weekend. There were the usual trips to the movies, or dinner at grandma's, time spent at church, etc. Then she got to me, and I said that we had gone to _______ Park and spent the day at the races. Sister then said, "Oh, I don't think so, surely your parents wouldn't want you to be around gambling??" (Which was ironic, because it's likely that before I even left the house for school that morning, my mother had bet me (literally) that I couldn't guess what she had packed for my lunch.) Anyway, I continued to insist that yes, I had too been at the races, and I think I even mentioned a couple of the horses that won, and what they paid. At which point, Sister just moved on to the next child, probably praying that they had spent their weekend in the house reading the Bible aloud to one another - kinda like the Flanders on "The Simpsons." The rest of the day went as usual, and I gave no more thought to Show Me The Money, or his handicap in Race 7.

When I got home from school, I did my homework as usual, and shortly afterwards my mother got home from work, and said that Sister had called her. Which was never a good thing. At least in our house, as teachers were never calling my parents to say that we were amazing children or an inspiration to our classmates (except for my sister Mary Ellen on occasion). Apparently Sister had called my mother, and said that I was telling stories in school that couldn't possibly be true. When my mother asked for an example, the nun told her of my description of our weekend activities. To which my mother replied, "Oh, she wasn't making that up. We were at the races all day." I have no idea what else was said by either party. But Sister never asked again what anyone in the class had done with their families over the weekend.

And this was another instance where my mother explained to me that we shouldn't lie, because that was wrong, but we could still tell the truth without going into details, which is how The Day at the Races with My Parents became a day spent outdoors at a park with my family ...

God Bless You, Barbaro.

**I don't remember ever thinking the other people at the track were all that different looking from people I saw anyplace else. I only found that out when I saw them portrayed in movies!


Anonymous said...

"Penny a point." :)

Scarlett said...

The whole story of The Great B is inspiring and then to have it end the way it did was very depressing. We heard the story of how down he got the day they put him down and it just hurts to know that he was so ..... just weak and no fight left.

He fought a good try though.

Carol said...

i lerve you.

Anonymous said...

I wrote about Barbaro on my other blog. . . It's just hard to think that all that fight went unrewarded.

Carol said...

I'm so behind on my reading! Great story! My dad spent many a day at the track, wish I did too. I'm very upset about Barbaro too, the world just doesn't turn right sometimes.

teabird said...

I was pretty stoic reading the stories yesterday, but I cried when I read that they gave him one more meal of oats.
What a valiant creature - and what valiant doctors. What faith they have in the spirit of the animals they care for.

Carol said...

So I guess this wouldn't be an appropriate time to provide a link to "The Rainbow Bridge"?

mary said...

As a product of education by nuns and Christian Brothers I enjoyed your story very much.

I'm behind on my blog reading so a late thank you for the picture of you mini gansey - and the poor cat! :)