Part two of one man’s account of the most Scared he’s ever been, and how he found himself there. Loosely based on Hunter S. Thompson’s classic The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved. Read Part I here.
Oaks Day. For those who don’t know, the Kentucky Oaks is “a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbred fillies staged annually in Louisville.” That’s pretty technical if you ask me. Try this one on for size - it’s held the day before the Kentucky Derby, so as the Jersey Shore guys would put it, the Kentucky Oaks is like the “shirt before the shirt." The Kentucky Derby is "t-shirt time."
Getting ready for a day at the races is unlike anything else. The preparation, the anticipation, the overlying attitude that you’re about to just to crush it at any and all costs. It’s one of the few times in life that is purely no holds barred. Its cocktails cocktails cocktails loud music cocktails getting wide getting fresh cocktails cocktails cocktails.
When we got in the car to head to Churchill Downs, I’ll give you one guess what we turned on. That’s right - From the cornfields of Romeo, Michigan. The Early Morning Stoned Pimp of the Nation. The American Badass. Kid motherfuckin’ Rock.
"Hey, what song you wanna hear?"
Now, someone with an untrained ear may be seriously confused as to why we love Kid Rock so much, but that’s a different conversation for a different day. If you’re put in the presence of a group of people who love Kid Rock, I promise you will like Kid Rock. It’s a foregone conclusion. Three people that made up our Derby team didn’t like Kid Rock that day. Now, I still get text messages that read, “Hey, what’s that song where he says, ‘fuck a bitch, fuck a bitch, fuck a bitch’?” Because the only recording artist in the history of the world that can record that line is Kid Rock, and the only song that can pull that line off is “Midnight Train to Memphis.”
If you think we didn’t listen to that song on repeat from the Kentucky Derby Headquarters (KDHQ) to the track, then you don’t know the three Michigan boys in the car one bit. Pretty sure the grounds crew at Churchill Downs thought that Kid Rock was pulling up in his bus from the American Badass video, which was a mainstay on TRL so if you don’t like that song then you’re disagreeing with the majority of America who voted it onto the authority on good music - MTV.
Churchill Downs is one of the cathedrals of sports that you have to see to believe. Rick Reilly stated, “With its wooden stands, elegant barns, men in seersucker suits and women in hats you could land an F-14 on, it’s 1927 everywhere you look. Don’t miss the fillies the day before in the Kentucky Oaks.” On this day, we went STI aka straight-to-infield.
First order of business? Get some Lilies. The Lily is the staple drink of the Oaks.
- 1 oz. Grey Goose
- 1 oz. Sweet and Sour Mix
- 3 oz. Cranberry
- Splash of Triple Sec
Even though a Lily sounds like something Jack Nicholson’s character in The Departed would tell you to drink if you’re on your period, these things get after it. The unfortunate circumstances, for me, were that my best friends were requesting voddy-toppers on these things. 22 year-old me knew that he couldn’t handle a voddy-topper, but for solidarity purposes / peer pressure / all I want to do in life is the exact same things as my friends, I obviously got a voddy-topper.
Fade to black. Fast forward 6 hours.
“Where the fuck am I? What the fuck just happened? Who the fuck is knocking on the door? Ah fuck, don’t open the door!”
"Hey man, what’s up! I got you a present," he says before hopping onto the bed. "Oh man, you got soooo after it at The Oaks, bro!" as he hands me my favorite cocktail, The Gamechanger.
- Take a large McDonald’s cup.
- Fill it half-full with coke.
- Fill the other half with whiskey.
"Dude, I can’t drink this right now. You need to get out of here." For the next 2 hours, I lethargically sat there trying to figure out what the hell had just happened. The tank was empty, and it was only our first full day in Kentucky. So, I did what any self-respecting white male would do. I pulled myself up by my 5" inseam shorts, buttoned my shirt up, went to the refrigerator, grabbed the Gamechanger, poured a 5 Hour Energy into it, and got back on the train.
Now, this year, I discovered something new about Kentucky Derby weekend in Louisville that I had never known before - bars don’t close between Friday and Saturday. And by “don’t close”, I mean, there is no last call. And by “no last call”, I mean you can stay out all night drinking.
I could probably Google where we went that night but honestly, I’d prefer to remember it the way its ingrained in my head. It looked like a mall chock-full of Derby goers and bars where anything goes. So sure enough, it went beers, bars, buzzed, Red Wings, shots, drunk, waitresses, hot.
4:30am hits and we found ourselves in a fight with some 45 year-old hicks who had whispered some perverted sentiments into the ear of one of the girls we were with. Because we were obligated to defend the honor of the girls present at the time (and because we were all railed out on Gamechangers), a shoving match ensued and we got a police escort out of the mall-that-wasn’t-actually-a-mall-but-had-tons-of-bars.
If fighting wasn’t illegal, I’d probably do it a lot more because the adrenaline is just too good to pass up. Plus, it gives you an opportunity to scream, “Fuck a bitch, fuck a bitch, fuck a bitch” into some guys’ face and get away with it because fighting is worse than swearing in public.
On the cab ride home, we probably sang “Midnight Train to Memphis” all the way back to the KDHQ before completely passing out from the Gamechanger’s sugar/booze buzz wearing off.
I slept for two hours that night because the excitement of Derby just 1. doesn’t allow you to sleep 2. doesn’t allow you to feel hungover on Derby Day. I reached over to grab my phone and check why my alarm hadn’t gone off - “Fuckkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkkk. Where the FUCK is my phone. Someone get me a computer STAT - I need to use Find My iPhone to well, find my FUCKING iPhone.”
"Uh-oh, dude. That looks like its in a really bad area of Louisville." I was going to call but feared that someone from the cast of The Wire was going to answer. So I just did the most annoying thing ever and set off the high-pitched buzzing noise that would either cause the person to call my friend’s number, or spike my phone onto the pavement to make it shut the hell up.
*Ring ring* “Yo man, where you at? I got your phone. You left it in my cab last night! I’ll bring it to you right now if you want me to!”
Cue the celebration.
When he pulled up to the KDHQ, I hugged the fuck out of him and gave him all the money in my wallet - a mere $20 that had probably started off as a couple hundred the night before. I would have felt bad for not having more, but it was Derby Day.
And we weren’t even close to peaking yet.