No Such Thing as Coincidence

There is a man in my life who I love very much. His name is Bond. He’s pretty unbelievably awesome, and, let’s be honest, damn handsome to boot. The man is the whole package, is what I’m trying to say. Also – a good time. If you want to have fun in Lexington, Kentucky, Bond is your man.

For a very long time, I’ve wanted to write Ani’s story. Ani is my horse, but she doesn’t have a story so much as an epic saga, a tale too big to fit in this space. Suffice to say, other horses taught me how to ride. Ani taught me about the kind of person I want to be. As much as I want to tell that story, in honor of her birthday, which is today, I am instead going to tell the story of how Ani brought Bond into my life.

When I got Ani, she was a mystery. I knew she was chestnut, I knew she was about nine, and I knew she had raced. All thoroughbred racehorses are tattoed on the underside of her upper lip, but Ani’s tattoo was blurry. It would tell us who she was if it could be read, but it couldn’t be read.

Driven to find out who Ani was, I joined the Thoroughbred Times Forum and asked questions of the posters there. Unfortunately, the people posting on the forum confirmed that wasn’t any recourse for me. Ani would remain anonymous.

In case you don't know horses, let me tell you - this is a beautifully bred mare. She is genetic quality through and through.

While the forum didn’t help me find out who Ani was, it did provide me with my first experience with people being wrong on the internet. The forum had hundreds of users and a huge number of them were wrong about a great many things. Like any sports fanatic knows, their sport of choice is extremely important and it is also extremely important to educate the people who are wrong about your sport of choice on the internet. At least it was in 2003.

As I fought passionately against the people who were wrong on the internet about my sport of choice, I found allies. One of those allies was a gentleman in Kentucky. He was equally passionate about people who were wrong on the internet. Sometimes we were on the same side, sometimes we were on opposing sides. (I hope it goes without saying that the forum quickly devolved into not just fighting about horse racing, but also fighting about politics, religion and other topics that weren’t as important as our sport of choice.) The gentleman in Kentucky and I were far apart on politics, but close on religion and close on horse racing, and two out of three ain’t bad. More importantly, he was smart and fair and funny.

Months went by. Ani moved from Greenville to Clemson, where she got a new vet. Dr. Stafford was a racetrack veteran. My long dormant hope percolated to the surface as I explained to him about the impossible to read tattoo, the tattoo that countless vets, friends, farriers, trainers and thoroughbred experts had proclaimed completely illegible. Dr. Stafford said, “Let’s bring her out into the sunshine.” We left the barn, he lifted her head, raised her upper lip, and as casually as you please, rattled off the letter and number that would identify Ani.

Thrilled, I sent off the paperwork to the Jockey Club. Yet more time passed. Finally, finally, finally, the packet arrived. Ani was actually Nellie Weathers. Her bloodlines blew me away. First and foremost, Ani was/is a living dinosaur. Horses foaled in 1993 just don’t have Double Jay as their grandsire, Double Jay being the champion colt of 1946. This gave me a feeling of kinship with Ani, as I am also a genetic dinosaur. My great-grandfather was born in the 18th Century. And no, that’s not a typo. I’m talking the 1700’s, y’all.

So, who bred this fascinating, beautiful and ridiculously athletic horse? Someone named Mrs. William C. Jacobs. Mrs. Jacobs had a horse in the Kentucky Derby in the 1960’s and that’s all I could learn about her. Given that most people don’t have a Kentucky Derby runner until they’re middle-aged or older (usually older) I figured she was dead by this point. I went again to the Thoroughbred Times Forum, this time counting on disappointment.

“Does anyone know anything about someone named Mrs. William C. Jacobs?” I wrote. “She’s dead now, but she had a Derby runner back in the day. She bred my horse, so I’m looking for information about her.”

I immediately got several messages from my favorite gentleman in Kentucky. “EMAIL ME,” he wrote. “SERIOUSLY. EMAIL ME RIGHT NOW.”

That day I wound up talking to Bond on the phone for the first time.

Mrs. William C. Jacobs was his mother and he was quite surprised to learn she was dead, given he’d had dinner with her the night before.

Moreover, although it was her name on the paperwork, it was in fact Bond himself who had decided to send Cour de Perse to Honey Jay, thereby creating the red chestnut mare I call Ani.

33,822 thoroughbred foals were born in 1993. Of the hundreds of users on the forum only a couple of them were breeders.

I don’t believe in coincidence. I believe that if we listen to the music of the spheres we can sometimes catch the rhythm and dance along in time. When we do, the world opens up and puts us where we’re meant to be. Ani has helped me find the rhythm many times over the last ten years. Who knows where she’ll take me over the next ten. God knows, with her dinosaur genetics, the horse is going to live to, like, thirty-five.

What Makes an Adams

A handful of Adamses.

Monk and Frances Adams had nine children. Forty-two grandchildren. I have no idea how many great and great-great grandchildren. We will estimate that number at a million. Maybe somewhere south of a million, but not by much. You’d think in that vast explosion of genetic material you’d have a lot of variance. But you’d be wrong.

I thought I’d put together a handy guide of the traits common to Adamses. You might find it useful in identifying an Adams in the wild, or perhaps just so you can better know the Adams in your own life. So here they are, in no particular order:

1.) AN ADAMS CAN’T WHISPER. Experts aren’t sure if there is a problem with the vocal cords of the Adams clan, or if it’s a common sense issue. It’s hard to say. I’ve seen many an Adams attempt to whisper and just not get anywhere with it the effort. Usually, though, the volume is turned to eleven and stays there. For example, a couple of years ago I found myself seated two feet from Lindsey Graham. The following came out of my mouth. “THAT GUYS LOOKS LIKE LINDSEY GRAHAM.” Barely a pause. “OH, THAT IS LINDSEY GRAHAM.” Barely a pause. “HE LOOKS SO MUCH OLDER WITHOUT MAKEUP.” And then I realized everyone at my table was recoiling in horror, and that I had been using my outside voice the entire time, because I only have an outside voice.

2.) AN ADAMS THINKS THEY’RE A HERO. Look around. Is there a major crisis happening? Is a building in flames? Are shots being fired? Is there a very short person running INTO the problem instead of away from it? Congratulations! You’ve probably spotted an Adams in the wild! Some of our clan is athletic, others not really. Either way, we all tend toward the idea that we’re superheroes. I remember my Uncle Albert telling me about his cop days and saying, “So, I’d always go in first.” It was a matter of course. He was an Adams, ergo, he’d be the first one in through the door. Whether this instinct is born of courage, stupidity, or a combo of the two, it’s hard to say.

3.) THE MOTTO OF AN ADAMS IS “IT’LL BE FINE.” Yes, it’ll be fine. Whether we’re jerry rigging a trailer hitch or negotiating a major life crisis, we will assure you, it’ll be fine. Just trust us. It’ll all be fine. Really. Don’t worry. Nobody’s going to die. Unless they do. In which case, just wait a little while, and then it’ll be fine again. If you try to insist that something is not fine, you will watch as our eyes glaze over, we stop listening, and start daydreaming about something way more interesting than the idea that everything isn’t going to be fine. 

4.) AN ADAMS LIKES FOOTBALL. A LOT. If you’re an Adams, you may choose between two teams. Auburn or Alabama, but really just Alabama. I included Auburn out of deference to Uncle Frank.

5.) IF YOU’RE AN ADAMS, YOU PROBABLY HAVE CANCER. If you don’t, just wait. 

6.) AN ADAMS HAS TWO SPEEDS – FAST AND SLOW. An Adams does things real quick. “Let me grab a beer real quick.” “I’m going to run to the store real quick.” “I’m going to make lunch real quick.” We do things real quick so that we can do everything else real slow.

7.) AN ADAMS DOES NOT HAVE A STRONG SENSE OF PROPRIETY. I remember at Uncle Rodney’s memorial, a bunch of us found a bullwhip and we were all cracking it in the driveway, and then some of the kids found a .22 and Lord knows what they were going to do with that, and then some grownups came out (BTW – I was, like, 29 or something) and we kinda got in trouble and kinda didn’t, because the bullwhip was really cool and everyone wanted to try that.

8.) AN ADAMS LOVES A FUNNY STORY. Funny stories are what make the world go ’round, if’n you’re an Adams. Adams love to tell a funny story, love to hear a funny story, and they love to laugh at a funny story. There might be some Adamses that don’t love a funny story, but I haven’t met any. Of course at every family reunion you meet a good twenty or thirty close relatives you’ve never met before, so maybe the humorless Adams is out there, just waiting to be discovered. I doubt it. We also have a special love for telling stories about Spoonerism slips. Adamses sometimes have a hard time getting their words straight. Uncle Albert once told several hundred people at a conference not worry about the heat, as they were about to turn on the ovulating fans.

9.) AN ADAMS IS NOT SHY. This is an understatement. At family reunions, spouses of Adamses have been heard to say, “This is kind of a lot.” And the Adamses are like, “WHAT? THREE HUNDRED PEOPLE ALL YELLING AT ONCE IS OVERWHELMING TO YOU?”

10.) AN ADAMS BELIEVES THAT FRANCES ADAMS WAS A LIVING SAINT HERE ON EARTH WHO TAUGHT EVERYONE SHE EVER MET THE DEFINITION OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE AND WE ALSO BELIEVE THAT SHE IS NOW IN HEAVEN, LOOKING OUT FOR US ALL. We believe this because it is true.

The Depressing Song-Off of Epic Grandeur

So, I have two people in my life I love very much. They are Alrinthea and Brenden. Now, somehow, through the bizarre quirks of fate, they had never met at any of our parties. Which is kind of odd, as they both attend pretty frequently. Finally, on St. Patrick’s Day, they met, and I was flabbergasted that I had to make introductions. “How do you not know each other yet?” I bellowed. It was St. Patrick’s Day, so there was bellowing.

Al and Brenden quickly realized they shared a love of music. They took over the music for the evening, which was fine. They seemed to be having a great time, and they were making great selections. For awhile. And then I noticed the music turn maudlin. I started to make hostess-walk-bys to see what was going on. The music remained maudlin. Then I heard the following words:

“We can have a depressing song-off!”

These words were said with great cheer and happiness, and yet I did not take it with a similar feeling. I said:

“NOT AT MY PARTY YOU’RE NOT.”

Brenden and Al laughed, and cut the maudlin music. A few days later, Brenden officially put The Depressing Song-Off on Facebook, with Al and Brenden trading vicious blows of suicide-inducing music. At some point, the masses cried out for the contest to be turned into a tumblr, and Al even more officially created this: From Pain Springs Beauty.

Yes, it’s a tumblr dedicated to determining the most depressing song ever created.

It is a surprisingly gleeful enterprise.

But then, it was created by these two people:

A Fistful of Flowers

So, we had a party for my friend Tamara. Tamara is a microbiologist by day, actress by night, and Friday was opening night for her new play. Our house is about a block from the theater, so we decided to host cockails before and after the show in Tamara’s honor.

We wound up with more people showing up after the play than before, but even so, ten of us toasted T at our house then sallyed forth for the theater. As we sallyed we had nary a worry or concern in our little heads, all was joy and light and happiness. The play was a delightful farce that featured an awful lot of opening and closing doors, along with mistaken identities and shenanigans. It was entertaining and fun and joy and light and happiness. Tamara was brilliant in the performance, as were my shoes, who played an important supporting role on T’s feet.

The cast did an imaginative and hilarious curtain call, and then all the actors lined up and bowed. That’s when a low, slow motion voice in the back of my mind said, “Ohhh nooo…we didn’t get Tamara flowers. You’re supposed to get actresses flowers…” I turned first to my friend Anna, a for real opera singer. Anna knows about post performance flowers. I said to Anna, “We didn’t get T flowers!” “Ohhh noooo….” said Anna. I proceeded to ask every single one of our ten friends if they had brought flowers, even though we all had sallyed forth together, and I knew full well no one had flowers. Last of all I asked Anderson, T’s special fella. “Did you think of flowers?” I asked him. “I’ve been thinking about flowers for the last four hours,” Anderson replied.

We had failed. All of us.

Except some of us had a will to succeed. And when I say some of us, I mean Brenden, who found out from Dinger that the Bi-Lo was open until 11. We agreed Anderson should stay behind to be there when Tamara emerged, but I volunteered to go on the hunt for a bouquet. Brenden threw his scarf over his shoulder and said, “Yes! Stay here!” as he ran off down the street, his scarf streaming in the wind.

Only, I didn’t hear the “Yes!” part. I only heard the “Stay Here!” And as “here” was the after-the-play reception, replete with wine, finger sandwiches and all manner of dips and other food delights, I thought to myself, Don’t mind if I do… and wandered away, thinking about a grand fellow Brenden was.

A few minutes later, Alrinthea walked up to me, and when I saw the expression on her face, several things suddenly became clear. I asked her, “When Brenden said ‘Stay Here!’ he meant stay in that little spot on the sidewalk, didn’t he? And he ran and got his car and I wasn’t there because I was here drinking a glass of wine and eating finger sandwiches?”

Alrinthea nodded and said, “He pulled up in his car like Batman and said, ‘Where’s Carrie?’ And when I said I didn’t know, he said, ‘I can’t wait. Tell her I’ve gone for the flowers.’ Then he raced off into the night.” Making this retelling all the better was Al’s rather glorious Christian Bale-as-Batman impression.

I went over to Anderson, and told him what had just happened. We agreed it was fitting that after watching a farce we then had a farcical misunderstanding of the request to “Stay here!” I suggested to Anderson that perhaps we should start opening and closing some doors.  

All of these things were stolen.

I kept an eye out for Brenden, and just as I started to worry about the amount of time that had elapsed, he appeared, holding his arm behind his back. I worked my way through the crowd and up to the hero of the hour. “Did you get the flowers?” I asked. “Well,” he said, “sort of.” He then revealed a fistful of pink flowers.Their roots had been carefully tucked into a little ball. “Let’s go outside,” I said, and guided Brenden and his flowers out of the reception hall.

“I went to the Bi-Lo,” Brenden said, “And the hours were posted, they’re open until 11, but the one door didn’t open, so I went to the other door, and it didn’t open, and there was a guy walking around in there, and then I see a sign that said, ‘Closing at 10 for renovations.’ It was 10:04! I got there at 10:04!”

*

“I’m so sorry,” I said.

*
“Then there were all these potted plants out front and I briefly considered taking one, but I figured there were security cameras, and who wants a potted plant? You don’t give an actress a potted plant after a performance. Then I see the CVS and I go there, but no flowers. But out front they have these perfectly mounded plants with pink flowers, so…” Brenden then gestured to his fistful of pink flowers. “One perfect mound is now missing a chunk.” He added, “I tried to pick off the roots on the way back.”

I thanked Brenden profusely for his heroic actions, then hid the pink flowers in one of the large pots out front of the reception hall. On the way home, I retrieved the pink flowers, picked off the rest of their roots, and I started to find some flower friends for them. I passed a huge flowering hedge, and liberated some branches. I passed some pretty pansies, and picked a couple. Finally, nature provided some beautiful honeysuckle to complete the bouquet.

Once home, I fetched a vase and put the stolen bounty in some water. It was a surprisingly pretty bouquet, in my humble estimation.

We then presented T with her flowers, and, more importantly, with a full scale reinactment, each of us playing our respective parts. Tamara laughed so hard she cried, and graciously said it was the most memorable after-the-show bouquet she’d ever received.

The Man I’m Married To

Westside Pavillion, site of the Massacre of the Betrayers.

Upon waking this morning, this happened:

Evan: I had a dream last night.

Me: What was it about?

Evan: We were in a zombie apocalypse and we’d managed to escape with a bunch of our friends and acquaintances, plus we’d managed to get some of our cats out. We were holed up at the Westside Pavillion, and a faction within our group betrayed us.

Me: How did they betray us?

Evan: They ate our cats for dinner.

Me: Oh no!

Evan: I took this as a personal affront.

Me: Did you kill them all?

Evan: No, because I realized, even though I had an AK-47, they were all armed with guns, too, and there was no way I could kill all of them quickly enough. So instead, I took you and a couple of people loyal to us and we left.

Me: Who was loyal to us?

Evan: I don’t remember. Anyway, so you and I and the couple of people loyal to us leave the Westside Pavillion, but as we’re leaving the building, I prop open the doors and pull the fire alarm.

Me: Wow.

Evan: {Evil Cackling}

Me: So you killed them all by zombie horde.

Evan: {Evil Cackling}

Me: I would have been okay with that, because of the cats. By the way, you can’t say you don’t love those cats, given you’re willing to kill all your friends because they ate them.

Evan: I didn’t care so much about the cats. It was the personal affront of the betrayal.

Me: I see.

Evan: We did think there was a chance one of the cats might have escaped both becoming dinner and the zombie horde, and we were going to sweep the building later to see if we could find any cat survivors.

Me: That’s nice.

Evan: Darren was the ringleader of the betrayers.

Me: Figures.