Monday, October 15, 2012

Of Horse Racing and Men

You know horse racing is in a bad place when Tyson Gay makes headlines when he told the Lexington Herald Leader he can “relate to equine athletes.” Nothing grabs fans like getting a non-medaling Olympic athlete to strangely endorse the horses.

But what else is there to talk about. Here are some other riveting headlines: “Mott works Classic contenders at Belmont”, “Game On Dude highlights Baffert workers”, “Flat Out getting news shoes before next work”. No wonder this game has no traction.

What’s funny is that when young turf writers come into this sport they start writing pieces about how great horse racing is and why aren’t others as excited about it as they are. I bet my first dozen columns for that rag I used to work for were all in that vein. Then you realize something: nothing will ever change. I tell you, I feel like a split personality between John Steinbeck’s George and Lennie, famous from Of Mice and Men.
You know the story. Lennie is a big damned galoot with the intelligence of a slow-developing four-year-old boy. George is shifty, hard to trust. But they have visions, visions of a grander tomorrow. They were gonna buy a farm and live off the “fadda da lan’.” If they wanted to ditch and go to a ball game, well, they’d ditch and go to a ball game. But the thing is, George only entertained the illusion to give Lennie a little hope, to pacify the man of Bunyan strength. And a funny thing happened? George started to believe it, but then he came to his senses.

You see, George saw Lennie make the same mistakes over and over. Lennie used to pet mice growing up and he pet them too hard and killed the little critters. He likes to pet things, you see, and he went so far as to pet a woman’s dress at a farm they worked at. She panicked. He panicked, but wouldn’t let go of the dress. She screams rape and George and Lennie are on the run.

Then at another farm, the one that was to deliver them so they could live off the “fadda da lan’” Lennie goes and pets a puppy too hard and kills the dang puppy. He starts blabbin’ on about “tendin’ rabbits” and Crooks, a disfigured, black worker forced to live in his own quarters, tells Lennie that those dreams are bad for you. Better to resign your fate cuz you ain’t livin’ off da fadda da lan’.

So, Lennie, he puts up a fight and goes down to the barn and he’s petting his dead pup and Curley’s tart of a wife comes and starts talkin’ about how she could have been a starlet and she brushes her hair, so soft. And she lets Lennie stroke her hair and Lennie starts petting too hard. She screams. He panics. She screams more. He breaks her neck, puts the dead pup in his pocket, and heads out.

Now the mob’s after him, you see. And even ol’ George, he sees the writing on the wall and you know in his head he’s thinking of a conversation he had with Candy, a one-handed “swamper”, who had an old dog. This old dog, he smells. Can barely walk. The group convinces him to put him down, shoot him right in the base o’ the head. Get a new pup. Candy couldn’t do it, so he let one of the other guys lead his old dog out into the farm and trigger the Luger. He told George he should’ve done it himself, that he owned his dog that much.

Back to George, he knows Lennie is out there somewhere south of there and he finds him. George is starting to believe his yarn about owning a farm and livin’ off the “fadda da lan’” but he knows that things will always be the same, always the same. And he finds Lennie and Lennie knows he’s done bad, and George knows it will always be the same with Lennie so he walks Lennie up to a cliff and tells him to look out over that cliff and imagine the farm. Imagine the illusion, the rabbits. And Lennie. He’s smilin’, he’s lovin’ this vision, it’s like he always dreamed.

George’s hand shook holdin’ that Luger, and he knew things were never going to change for him, for Lennie, for the whole damn game.

So who ya got in the Breeders’ Cup?

Written by Brendan O'Meara

Comments (3)

BallHype: hype it up!

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