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Dana, my dearest, and I had been together and were never apart for one summer month in Littleton, Colorado and when I packed up the Chrysler to head back to Phoenix for the Turf Paradise racing season, I was forced to leave her behind. Devastation enveloped my decision to leave her. I had purchased a very expensive ring only weeks before.
The night before I left, Dana and I had some intimacies and shared a dinner, enjoying beverages and appetizers. Our relationship had blossomed into a special bonding and every night brought to me special feelings for her.
The Friday night feeling, the one you feel when anticipating a date or a closeness that is planned on Monday knowing that in only days you would be with someone you are so desperately in love and have that tingle that rings through every nerve in your body. Dana was a tall slender and shapely female. Her tender curves and long wind-whipped hair caught everyone’s attention who saw her. Her aura was visible and glowed in sunlight.
Even her voice, much akin to Kathleen Turner’s in the sexy movie, Body Heat, would hold you in a spell when she spoke to you. Alluring even at a distance. She was mine.
I passed under the highway sign on the road, ‘Boulder’, on the way out of town and my heart’s life pressure tanked as the reality of leaving her was setting in. I cried a silent tear and looked through the reflection of my saddened face on the window of the car. Landscapes, homes and ranches whizzed by without notice. Depression was like no other I had experienced before yet I was assured of her safety as I had asked Curt, my best friend in Colorado, to take care of her in my absence and keep her safe.
My sighs were becoming noticeable as I pushed back my disheveled hair. I wiped at the moisture on my cheek with the back of my hand. I was missing Dana so bad, our lives parted by a date on a calendar that I knew was coming. Dana had kissed me goodbye and I searched for her smell on me.
Eeeeerrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrt! (Reader Alert! For those with little or no imagination, that was the sound-word for four Goodyears screeching to a stop)
We were nine.
For Pete’s sake, we were nine!
Okay, okay so I was nine and I have no idea what ‘Pete’s sake’ actually means and why would I care what Pete thinks?
The ring was bought at the Rexall Drug store, the silver-coated plastic cost me at least a couple of bucks. We did make-out, actually just kissed a couple of times just practicing for the real stuff, and the dinner out, well it was a Payday and a Mountain Dew. So what?! Mountain Dews in the honor soda machine were 10 cents.
The school year went by quickly and I noticed the love letters stopping around the first month I was back in Phoenix. I wrote small notes to my love, Dana over the course of the next 7 months and only received one or two the first month. Something was up.
July 5th we left Ak-Sar-Ben for Centennial Race Track. In 20 hours I will get my answer to the disappearance of my lady. Was she injured in a traffic accident? Maybe an illness prevented her from putting the #2 to paper. Had she been kidnapped and taken to another country to serve a Sheik for his manly needs? Did a calling to help King Penguins in Antarctica make its way to her and enticed her to travel?
Whyyyyyyy!!!!??? I screamed to the Gods.
The long sedan pulled up next to the apartments Dad had previously made arrangements for us to stay the next month. The tires scraped the tall concrete curb as we stopped. I got out. Dana’s apartment was still there so after Dad let us in the two bedroom, I skipped across the street to knock on her door hoping to be greeted by my steady.
No one answered.
I went back to our new home and opened the door just enough to say, “Hey Mom, I’m running over to Curt’s house to let him know we’re here.”
“Okay, just be careful crossing the boulevard.”
“Okay, I will. Be back in a couple of hours.”
Cars whizzed by on Littleton Boulevard four lanes wide. I waited for my chance and ran across, north one block and towards the track another block. I jumped from the bottom step to the top step of Curt’s porch, opened the screen door and knocked hard. Curt’s Mom answered. “Hi Billy, how are you?”
“Hi Mrs. Grau. I’m fine. Is Curt home? We just got in town for the summer.”
“He’s upstairs in his room. You can go on up. He’ll be glad you’re here. Do you want a glass of iced tea? I just made a pitcher.”
“Uh-uh.” (Reader alert. That’s means ‘no’, not to confuse with Uhuh, which means ‘yes’)
I clambered up the dark green and flowery-patterned carpeted stairway and walked back to the rear of the upstairs where Curt’s room had always been. Curt was allowed most of the upstairs including the screened in rear porch as a bedroom since I had known him. Such a cool room and an easy escape for the late night curfew disregards.
I plowed through the door, “Hey Curt!”
Curt was sitting up but lying on his bed. “”Billy! You just get back?”
“Yep,” I said as I lunged onto the extra single bed against the opposite wall. “What’ya been up to.”
Curt started talking about all kinds of things, even telling me how he had started smoking and that his Dad had grounded him for a full month while I was gone. He talked about being in football last year and had dislocated his elbow. “See that spot right there?” He raised his elbow up at me. I assumed it was probably just a bruise and not really dislocated.
“Well, that was over here when I did it. Hurt like the dickens. Took about two months to quit hurting. Still bugs me a bunch.”
We talked for another few minutes when I said, “Hey, have you talked to Dana at all. She never wrote back to me on any of my letters.”
Curt looked down at his belly then looked up at me and just blurted it out. “Dana is my girlfriend now. We’ve laid in bed with each other.”
I shook my head in disbelief, “What! How can that be? She was my girlfriend when I left. You stole her from me?”
“No, I didn’t steal her. You left. Finders keepers.”
“Have you kissed her?”
“Yep, and touched her underwear one time.”
“What! You touched her down there?” I pointed to my zipper.
Curt leaned over and opened his drawer of the night stand. “Here, these are yours,” he said as he handed me a stack of envelopes bounded by a single rubber band.
I took them from him and slowly fanned through the twenty or so unopened envelopes.
“You have all my letters to Dana.”
“Yeah, I went every day and took them out of her mailbox if they were there.”
That was it. I pounced like a hungry leopard from the bed and attacked but only got in a couple of good rounders and a claw across the face. Most landed on his defensively placed arms or on the top of his shoulders. A few made their way to the side of his bad elbow. I stood up gathering my breath. “You took my letters and touched Dana on her underwear. I never want to talk to you again. Ever!”
I picked up his Willy Mays signed baseball he kept on a special shrine holder on the top of his dresser, opened the door to his screened porch, walked to the screen door leading out to the second floor balcony where he would climb down when doing a night escape.
“Stop Billy, that’s my Willy ball. Stop now or I’ll kick your ass.”
I leaned back, and with the force of a third world catapult, I hurled the trophy ball as hard as I could into the sky toward the adjacent street. I never heard it hit. The leather keepsake may have left the atmosphere. I climbed down the lattice fire escape and ran through his backyard and jumped the four foot high chain-link to the alley.
“Well hello Billy, nice to see you’re back.” Mr Grau said as he was cleaning off the rear window of his sedan. I didn’t acknowledge his greeting.
As I walked away from a friend who I would never see again I smirked knowing one good knuckle slug made it perfectly on the spot where his elbow had hurt for two months. “Good. I hope it hurts worse now,” I whispered to myself.
I stopped at the sidewalk before I crossed the main road and turned back. I could see the top of Curt’s house through the trees. “Second again. I’m never going to be second again. No matter what!”
That month went as slow as ten years but when we loaded up to go back to Phoenix I had made a couple of new friends at the track. No new girlfriends but had met some prospects and made out with Teresa by the frog pond. First French kiss for me. I wondered then why the tongue part was so important in the moment. I still think that today.
Being second from that time on has always made me work and play harder. Second place is actually first loser. Second sucks.
– Time Travel Time –
I met a very interesting man and woman at the 2008 Kentucky Derby, J.D. and Mary Ann Squires, the breeder of Monarchos. The fleet-footed horse won the 2001 Kentucky Derby and had finished in a time that was second to Secretariat winning time by a sliver of a second. The day stands out to me as when J.D. told me the fact about the horse’s speed, the first part of the story you just read came back to me. Second place. Oh how I hate second place.
Neither J.D. or Mary Anne acted indifferent or muttered anything about the ‘Second’ word as being a bad word in the world of bad second choice of words. I on the other hand focused on the question and wanted to know more about which horse was actually second in time.
Well it seems that there is a lot of bar and coffee shop debate surrounding which horse is actually the second fastest horse in the world of the Kentucky Derby. Now, we can’t take away the fact that Monarchos is the second fastest ‘Winner’ of the Kentucky Derby. That’s true. But what about Sham? He might have not won but he did finish second place to Secretariat and did it by only a few lengths behind. Even the amount of lengths has been questioned or misrepresented. That just may be the key to the lock. Lengths of a horse or the length of a second. In this game, even parts of the horse’s body make a difference.
He, she or even the gray came in second by a nose, a head, or half of a length is commonplace talk yet I never heard of ‘won by a whisker’ but I’m sure some have said it because horse’s do have whiskers. “Yep, she lost by this much. Came in second. Dang!” ‘This much’ being this much space between your thumb and your second finger when you are describing the first loser in a race. That’s way bigger than a whisker too.
So here’s the rub. Which horse has run in the Kentucky Derby and came in second in time to Secretariat? Was it Sham or was it Monarchos? Go to this link if you are interested in the numbers and if you’re not, just keep on reading? You can always come back.
Here’s to Being Second Twice – The Stats
So go ahead and dispute away, argue your favorite, left wing or right wing. Throw in the Bullshit Flag and stop the play. The undisputed second fastest horse which ran in the Kentucky Derby is. . . Brrrrrrraaaaaaaaatttttt (Reader Alert! That’s a drum roll)
Hold on Folks! It appears we have a Dead Heat! We have a Dead Heat! OMG! They both were second place in time. Exactly second and right down to the hundredths of a second.
See, I told you. I told you that being second to anything sucks. Now the two second fastest horses at the Kentucky Derby have to share the disgusting reality of living their long life in Loserville on the same block. And in the life or past memories of first losers, living the reality can be forever.
Mint Juleps anyone?
“The best part of life starts at the top of the stretch.”
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