Polo

They say polo is the sport of Kings.  I disagree with this statement.  In my experience, It seems more like the sport of very rich men with big egos, who are willing to spend a fortune to chase a ball around on horseback for an hour.

And I’ve tried – oh, how I’ve tried – but for the life of me, I just don’t get it.

BR: Blondie, did you see how many goals I scored today?

Me: Umm… two?

BR: No.

Me: Three?

BR: Blondie!  Were you even watching my game?

Me: Oh yes, I was watching.  I was totally watching.

I wasn’t watching.  I was taking a nap in the car, reading a trashy gossip magazine, playing Word Warp on my phone… all to try and pass the time because somehow I got suckered into watching yet another of BR’s polo matches.

Now please understand, I have tried to like polo.  I’ve been to a countless number of BR’s matches, fancy professional tournaments with world-class players, polo parties, polo functions, polo fundraisers… but I just don’t like it.

BR even talked me into taking horseback riding lessons for a while, in the hopes that I would gain a little appreciation for his favourite past-time.  Unfortunately I didn’t learn anything about polo, but I did learn that I am definitely afraid of horses.  And you know what?  Horses can sense that.  And then they screw with you.

Allow me to let you in on a little secret about polo:  you don’t actually have to be any good at it to win tournaments and trophies.  In fact, you could be slumped over the saddle, dragging your mallet through the perfectly manicured grass while your horse is running around in circles the entire game – and you could still win.  How is this possible, you ask?  Because polo isn’t so much a game of skill for the super rich – it’s a game of wealth.  In other words, the more money you’re able to spend on well-bred horses and professional players from Argentina who make up the rest of your team, the more you’ll win.

Therefore winning a big tournament isn’t necessarily a show of your athletic prowess – it’s a show of how much your wallet is able to crush your opponents.

And because of this, you are guaranteed to meet some very “interesting characters” who are dedicated to the sport.

I remember the first year BR played polo in Florida – I came out to watch a few of his games.  Nobody knew who we were, which was fine with me.  One day after the game, an older gentleman approached me on horseback and introduced himself.  He asked me where I was from.  So I told him.

Polo player:  Oh really.  Where’s that, exactly.

It’s not like BR and I are from the boonies.  We’re from a well-known, very cosmopolitan city.  So I couldn’t tell if he was joking or being slightly rude.

Me:  Oh, I’m not really sure, haha.  Where are you from?

Polo player:  Isn’t is obvious?  I’m from New York.  More specifically, DUMBO.

Me: Oh… where’s that?

He scoffed a little.

Polo player:  What, you’ve never heard of it?  Down Under Manhattan Bridge Overpass.

Me:  Oh… that’s nice.  Do you like it?

Polo player:  Like it?  Sweetheart, I developed it!

And then he literally turned around and rode away.  Towards… well nothing really.  Towards the end of the field.  And I was left standing there, dumbfounded (no pun intended).

Later that afternoon we were invited to watch one of the professional tournaments at the fancy International Polo Club of Palm Beach.  BR and I are not members of said club (BR refuses to join anything) but a few of our friends are.  It was my first time going to one of these tournaments, so I was a little nervous to say the least.  Because let me be blunt: it’s not just a game.  It’s a scene.

Now these professional tournaments can be somewhat entertaining – or at the very least they’re a good excuse to get drunk during the day – but they’re part of a pretty bizarre world.  They’re basically very glitzy, booze-fuelled events where wealth and drunken debauchery and an abnormal number of straight men sporting pink pants collide.

Side note: If you’re interested, Laurence Leamer’s book, “Madness Under the Royal Palms”  is all about Palm Beach society and he gives a very accurate description of what the polo scene is really like.  I highly recommend it.

Anyway, that day, this particular friend (we’ll call him “Fred”) gave us tickets to sit in his box.  He wouldn’t be there, but he told us to go ahead and have a good time.  So we arrived a few minutes late (in our inappropriately casual jeans and t-shirts) and guess who was in the box?  The gentleman from DUMBO and his wife, as well as a few of their friends.  Mr. DUMBO gave a slight nod in our direction, but didn’t acknowledge that we’d previously met, or that he had just played a match against BR a few hours earlier.  His wife, on the other hand, looked at us like we were a couple of interlopers who had somehow managed sneak into the game.  She was frowning.

We sat directly behind them.  His wife turned around not once, not twice, but a few times and – still frowning – very blatantly looked us up and down.  Finally she spoke.

Mrs. DUMBO: Um, excuse me, but are you friends of Fred’s?

BR: Yes.

Mrs. DUMBO: Oh.  Oh, I see.

She was still frowning when she turned around and very loudly said to her friends, “I don’t know who these people are and I don’t know what they’re doing here.”

So that was awkward.  Not only because we were sitting directly behind her and could hear everything she said, but also because all her friends turned around and disapprovingly looked us up and down as well.  And did her husband care to mention that he had met us earlier and that BR was a fellow polo player?  No.  He did not.

Ugh.  I wanted to crawl into a hole.  But then I thought, seriously lady?  I know your husband’s a “big deal” and everything, but do you have to be so mean?  This isn’t even your box.

Needless to say I drank my way though the rest of that game.

We’ve been back to the International Polo Club several times since then, and over the years it’s become a little more enjoyable.  I’m still not even remotely interested in the actual polo, but I do enjoy all the vodka that’s being passed around.  And the people watching.  That never gets boring.

BR and I have also been to our share of polo functions.  The last one we attended was a black tie affair, where a friend of ours – a genuinely lovely man – was getting inducted into the Polo Hall of Fame.  Now it’s no secret that I find these events more stressful than enjoyable, but I really like “Tom” and his wife, and was happy to attend.

Lance (BR’s business partner and BFF) and his lovely wife Charlotte were also going be there and I was glad they were sitting at our table.

So I made an immediate b-line for the open bar and I have to admit, the party was pretty fun.  Eventually we were all seated for dinner.  Shortly after, the speeches began.  Now I was a little “tipsy” at this point so I don’t quite remember all the details, but one gentleman got up and began to give a speech about… um… polo.  I think his family had been playing for a few generations… or something. This went on for a while (I wasn’t really listening) and then he began talking about a beloved family horse.  Who was dead.  The next thing I knew, everyone was standing up and applauding this horse.  I thought this was a little weird but, you know, when in Rome…

So we all stood up and then Charlotte, who had maybe one-too-many glasses of chardonnay blurted out, “I can’t believe we’re giving a standing ovation to a horse!  A dead horse!”  Then Lance glanced around the room and very loudly announced, “wow, not a lot of Jews here!  Not a lot of Jews.”

But they were right.  There were not a lot of Jews there.  I think I counted maybe five.  And why were we giving a standing ovation to a dead horse.  Did the horse find a cure for cancer?  No.  It was a horse.

But that’s polo.  And try as I might, I still don’t get it.  Even though BR has invested years of his life, not to mention a small fortune on horses, horse trailers, grooms, pros, a farm and his own private practice field… as well as a few disastrous riding lessons for me.  It’s a huge commitment and his polo schedule literally dictates our lives.

But I’m just not that interested.

BR, however, loves it and I’m glad he has an activity that keeps him so busy.  Otherwise he’d just be at home torturing me.

And I would never have had the pleasure of meeting Mr. and Mrs. DUMBO.

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Lunch with The Donald

As I’ve mentioned before, BR and I spend the winters in Florida.  Coincidentally, this is where BR’s business partner lives.  I’ll be referring to him as “Lance.”  This is very convenient for them because they get to hang out and talk about business all the time while we’re there.  And not only are Lance and BR business partners, but they are also BFF’s.

Lance has a very beautiful, very lovely wife named “Charlotte” who has also become a good friend of mine. In fact, she’s the only person I know who can truly relate to what it’s like to live with one of these “Masters of the Universe.”

Lance and Charlotte are members of an exclusive Palm Beach club which is owned by Donald Trump.  BR and I do not belong to any such clubs, but this is more by choice.  We’re both a little socially awkward and we value our time at home.  BR’s gone most days playing polo and I like hanging out with the dogs at the beach.  Also, BR outright refuses to go anyplace where a dinner jacket is mandatory, or where he’s not allowed to wear jeans.

So we’re not on the party circuit, or the charity ball circuit, or a social circuit of any kind really (although occasionally we do go to polo parties).  In fact, I usually tend to find these events far more stressful than enjoyable, and I don’t do well with social pressure of any kind (which is where the vodka and anti-anxiety medication comes in handy).  Although I must say, whenever I do go to these events, the people-watching is awesome.

But of course with this kind of lifestyle, sometimes these social obligations are unavoidable.  So I have to put on my fancy big-girl shoes, and suck it up.  Unfortunately BR rarely gives me any appropriate notice, never gives me enough time to get ready, I can’t even pick a fancy big-girl shoe let alone dress myself, and because I’m so stressed and rushed I always end up sticking the mascara wand in my eye.  Which at that point I have no choice but to zip up my party dress, chug a martini, and literally hope for the best.

BR: Is that what you’re wearing?

Me: Yes, why?  You don’t like it?

BR: The dress is a little long.

Me: It’s not long, it’s appropriate for someone my age.  I’m not twenty.

BR: You’re not?  I’m breaking up with you.  Why don’t you change into something shorter?

Me: Because I don’t want to look like a prostitute!  And now you’ve made me all self-conscious and I’ve already changed five times and you know that I get really stressed out about these things and I can barely dress myself and why can’t you just say I look nice like a normal person?!  AND WHERE IS THE ATIVAN!

One day Lance was talking about his club and asked me if I wanted to come by and meet Donald Trump.  I was like, oh sure, I’d love to meet The Donald.  Because what are you supposed to say, no thanks I’d rather not meet him because I get really nervous and awkward in social situations with famous people?

So I didn’t think much of it until a few days later when we were invited to spend the afternoon at the club’s pool.  I would spend time with Charlotte while BR and Lance talked about business.  And again BR gave me no notice, so all I could do was throw my hair in a pony tail and quickly shove some stuff in a beach bag.

Now, the club pool is not just a normal pool.  It’s fancy.  There are skinny blond women in teeny tiny bikinis, very large diamonds, and high-heeled sandals traipsing around, uniformed waiters offering you all sorts of beverages, old rich men sunbathing… all in a spectacularly lovely setting by the ocean.

Let me be blunt: I was not properly outfitted for this occasion.  I looked like a poor, dishevelled tourist.  I didn’t have time to fix my makeup, I had already managed to spill iced tea on my non-designer bathing suit cover-up, and the excessive wind was starting to make my hair look like a bit of a nest.  Plus I stupidly slathered suntan lotion all over the bottom of my feet (which made my feet really slippery), so each time I tried to take a step in my high-wedged flip-flops, I looked severely inebriated.

So I spent much of the early afternoon hiding on a lawn chair under a large umbrella, trying to look as inconspicuous as possible.  Until it was lunchtime and I had to walk up to the outdoor grill/buffet to get some food.

I managed to walk up to the grill without too much embarrassment, although once I was there I did get a nice bright yellow blob of mustard on the front of my cover-up.  Awesome.  Finally I had my food and I was just about to take it back to my lawn chair when Lance called me over.

Lance: Blondie!  Come on over to the table, we’re eating over here.  With Donald.

With Donald?!  As in, we’re having lunch with Donald Trump??  Nobody told me he was here!  And I can barely walk like a normal person, I’ve spilled a bunch of crap all over myself, my hair is a wasps nest, I’m not wearing any makeup, and I am totally sober!

I could feel my heart start to race and the panic set in, so I took a deep breath and walked towards the table with a very forced (and probably really demented) smile on my face.  I was just about to sit down in the seat farthest away from The Donald, when BR loudly suggested that I come and sit right beside him.  He even held out the chair for me.  And what are you supposed to do, say no thank you, I’d rather sit way over here because I’m having a socially-induced anxiety attack, and I probably look like someone who’s been allowed out on a day-pass?

So I walked over.  The Donald was very gracious and polite.  He held out his hand for me to shake and then gestured for me to sit down.

The Donald: Hello, it’s very nice to see you.

I guess he has to say “see” you instead of “meet” you in case he’s already met you but can’t remember.  I managed to squeak out a hello.

The Donald: No wonder you’re so skinny, you don’t eat very much.

I actually do eat a lot, just not when I’m nervous.  But regardless, The Donald was not only extremely friendly, he was also trying to make small talk.  With me.  I really wanted to be able to say something witty and polite in return, but all that came out of my mouth was a weirdnervous, agonizingly long, high-pitched laugh.  Shit!

I was so embarrassed that I couldn’t even look in his direction, let alone talk to him for the rest of the lunch.  Which lasted an entire hour.  Lance was mortified.  He kept trying to draw me into the conversation, while every few minutes giving me the wide-eyed “what the fuck’s wrong with you” stare from across the table, but it was useless.  I was completely speechless.

Then finally The Donald just got up and left.  No goodbye, no nothing, just got up and walked away.  But can I really blame him?

Lance: Blondie, what the fuck is wrong with you!  I’ve never seen anything like that in my life!

Me: I don’t know what happened, I panicked!  You can’t just throw me at The Donald like that, I need at least 48 hours notice!  And makeup!  And a proper outfit!  AND ALCOHOL!

BR: Couldn’t you have said something?  Like you like his show or… something??

Me: But I don’t watch his show and I don’t want to get myself trapped in an awkward lie.  That would be worse.

BR: So you instead you ignored him for an hour.  That’s an awesome way to make an impression.

Lance: I’VE NEVER SEEN ANYTHING LIKE THAT IN MY LIFE!

So that was that.  I’ve been back to the club a few times since then as a guest, although I have not had the pleasure of meeting The Donald again.  Hopefully next time I’ll be prepared – and witty and fabulous and, let’s face it,  properly medicated.

And hopefully he won’t remember me.

Broken Leg

BR and I go to Florida every year for the winter.  Which is great because not only do we both get to escape the cold, but BR also gets to play polo, which he loves.  And hockey.  (Who knew?)

I love Florida in the winter for two reasons: First, it’s the time of year when BR and I get to spend the most quality time together.  Second, the people-watching is awesome.

So the year before last we rented a cute house on Palm Beach island and quickly settled into the poodle-walking, pastel-wearing, sun-tanned life of a snowbird.

Until one night, about a month into our trip, BR went to hockey and broke his leg.  In two places.

After spending a couple of nights in the hospital, he was sent home with a bottle of Vicodin and a full cast up to his thigh.  Which meant he would be bedridden for two whole months.  Let me repeat: bedridden for two whole months.

BR is a man who gets cranky and restless and “difficult to manage” if he misses competitive sports for one day.  Now he would be bedridden – and entirely dependent on ME – for two whole months.

I’ve never broken anything so I really underestimated the severity of his injury.  He’s also pretty tough so I really thought he’d be up and walking around on crutches within a couple of weeks.  Oh no.  He lay in bed for two whole months and literally milked every single second of it.

Now, I am a very caring person.  I am a very patient person.  And BR is high maintenance on a good day.  But I had no idea just how difficult  – and exhausting  – and stressful – and bonkers the next two months would actually be.  Good bye easy, breezy Florida.  Hello Shutter Island.

Perhaps you’re asking yourself, how much damage can a bed-ridden evil genius with half a dozen light sabers and a bed-side urine bottle actually do to someone’s psychiatric well-being?  The answer: a lot.  A lot.

BR: Blondie, do you want some lemonade?

Me: BR, if you refer to your urine one more time as “lemonade” I’m going to barf.

BR: Drink it.

Me: I am totally barfing now.  Are you happy?

BR: Just drink a little bit of it.

Me: What is wrong with you?

BR: I’m hungry!  Get me a cupcake.

Me: We don’t have any cupcakes.  Do you want something else?

BR: Blondie, just go to the store and get me a cupcake!  I’m so hungry and that’s all I want.

Me: It’s 7:55!  Publix closes in 5 minutes.

BR: Blondie!  I have a broken leg!  Put your running shoes on and run to the store!  If you hurry you’ll make it.

Me: Fine, I’ll go.  Please stop pointing that light saber at me.

BR: And Blondie, one more thing.  I’d like a nicely decorated one.

Me: Pardon?

BR: The cupcake.  I’d like it to be decorated nicely.

Me: I’m going to murder you.

BR: Blondie hurry up!  You’re wasting time.

So I ran to Publix with literally 30 seconds to spare.  I ran over to the bakery counter.  Strangely, they were not all that happy to see me right before closing.  Finally a less than impressed African-American lady with a gold tooth sauntered over to the counter.

Cupcake lady: Can I help you?

Me: Oh hi… I’m sorry, I know you’re about to close… but I have a guy at home with a broken leg who’s feeling really sorry for himself and he would really like a cupcake.

Cupcake ladyAwww, that’s so sad!  How old is he?

Me: Ummm… 41.

Cupcake lady took a step back and put her hands on her hips before less-than-enthusiastically grabbing me a cupcake.

Cupcake lady: Mmmmm hmmmm.  Oh really.

Me: Ummm… yes.

Cupcake lady: Well ain’t that just like a man.  Meanwhile, if that was you all up at home with a broken leg?  He’d be like, “sorry baby, there ain’t nothin’ I can do for you no more, I’m goin’ out tonight.”

Me: Haha, that’s… probably totally accurate.  Thank you for the cupcake.

Cupcake lady: Mmmmm hmmmm.

So I ran home, ran straight to the kitchen, opened the freezer, and grabbed the vodka bottle.

BR:  Blondie?  BLONDIE?!  Where is my cupcake?

Me: It’s coming, just a second!

BR: What are you doing down there?  I HAVE A BROKEN LEG!

Me: Just a second!  I’m just getting something.

BR: Are you drinking again?  

Me: No!

BR: Then why do I hear bottles clinking?

Me: Shut up, you’re hallucinating!

And this went on for several… weeks.  Cupcakes, light sabers, incessant moaning, urine bottles, sponge baths, multiple snacks, spoon-feeding, foot massages, “mantrums”, more snacks, more cupcakes, sleep depravity, eventual alcoholism…  And all the while having to hear, “Blondie… Blondie!  BLONDIE!  BLONDIE!!!”

Finally one day I could take no more.  I needed a time out.  I was on the brink of a nervous breakdown.  He had broken me.

BR:  Blondie!  Where are you, I need my foot rubbed.

Me:  BR, I need a break.  This is what’s going to happen: I’m going to take an ativan, go into the spare room, read my book, and take a nap.  Now unless you are on fire, I don’t want you calling me for at least two hours.  Or I’m going to murder you.   Do you understand?  I just need two hours.

So that’s what I did.  I got all cozy in the spare room, opened my book and began to read.  But about 20  minutes later I realized I had to pee.  Crap.  I was going to have to sneak past the master room in order to do this and the floors were really creaky.  BR would hear me.  But I really had to pee.  So I quietly opened the door and crept out of the room.

BR: Blondie?

Just ignore him.  Keep walking.  Now go to the bathroom, quietly flush, and creep back.

BR: Blondie?  BLONDIE?  BLONDIE!

Me: For the love of God, WHAT?  What is it?  I told you not to bother me unless you were on fire and you’re clearly not on fire!

BR: I heard a noise.  I thought it was a cat.

Me: A cat?  You mean the cat that we don’t have walked by our room, went to the bathroom, flushed the toilet and walked back?

BR: It sounded like a cat.  But since you’re up can you make me a snack platter?

BR was bored.  And probably mildly depressed.  He couldn’t get out of bed and enjoy the Florida sun.  He couldn’t play polo or hockey.  And aside from torturing me and swinging his light sabers around, there wasn’t much he could do to entertain himself.  So he decided to online shop.

Me: BR, what’s with all these boxes that keep getting delivered?

BR:  Those are for me.  Bring them up here.

So I brought them upstairs.

BR: Awesome, I’ve been waiting for these.

Me: What are those?

BR: Star Wars costumes.

Me: Umm… for us?

BR: Blondie, don’t be ridiculous.  They’re for the dogs.

Me: Of course they are.  How many Vicodin have you been taking?

And every day a new box would show up with something weird inside.  More light sabers.  More techie gadgets.  Several computer monitors.  A spy pen.  A variety of security cameras.  Underwear.  Binoculars.  Two fax machines.  Approximately seven different cell phones.  The list goes on.

I knew he was really starting to lose it when he started putting his Cookie Monster doll in front of the computer during video conference calls with his business partner.  Every once in a while he’d give Cookie Monster a shake and I’d hear “MEE WANT COOOOKIE” coming from the bedroom.  Or I’d hear BR say, “Cookie Monster doesn’t agree with you” or “now you’ve made Cookie Monster upset.”

Me: I was reading an article the other day.  Apparently there’s some big-wig club owner who will only show the back of his head during video conference calls.  Isn’t that weird?

BR: Very interesting… from now on I will only be showing the back of Cookie Monster’s head during video conference calls.

Then one day a large delivery truck showed up in front of the house.  The delivery guy asked me where I’d like him to wheel the very large box that was inside.  It obviously wasn’t going to fit through the front door.  I asked the delivery guy to please wait a second, and told him that I would be right back.  I quickly ran into the house.

Me: BR?  There’s a delivery guy here with a huge box.  Where do you want it?  I’m kind of afraid to ask what it is.

BR: Oh.  That’s just my four-person bicycle.  It’s for the cottage.

Me: Of course it is.

BR: Just tell him to leave it on the driveway.  You’ll probably have to cover it with a tarp or something.  I don’t want anyone stealing it.

Me:  Yeah I don’t really think you have to worry about… actually, how are we going to get this thing home?  It’s huge.

BR: Blondie, don’t worry.  We’ll put it in the truck or the horse trailer and drive it home.

Me: Who is going to put it in the truck?  It’s enormous and you have a broken leg!  Why didn’t you just ship it to the cottage?

BR: Blondie, stop interrogating me.

Me: Did you not want to pay the extra shipping?!  How much did you save.

BR: A lot.

Me: How much.

BR: Two-hundred dollars.

Me:  We have to lug this thing all the way home so you could save two-hundred dollars?!  What is wrong with you?

BR: Blondie, the bike only cost four-hundred dollars!  I’m not going to pay two-hundred dollars on shipping for a four-person bicycle that only cost four-hundred dollars!  Where is the math logic in that?!

Me: WHERE IS THE LOGIC IN A FOUR-PERSON BICYCLE?!

It was a long winter.  BR was finally able to walk around on crutches a little by the time we got home.  But he still wanted to keep his pee bottle beside the bed because it was “convenient.”

And we did manage to get the four-person bicycle to the cottage.  Much to my surprise, it didn’t seat four people in a row like I had imagined – it had two benches (one in the front and one in the back), a steering wheel and two large wheels on either side.  The entire thing was covered by a bright red-and-white striped canopy with tassels.  It was kind of like “Fred Flinstone car meets Candy Land.”  It takes up an entire space in the garage.  We still take it out occasionally and I’m finally starting to get used to the laughing and pointing, which is positive.

And it took a year but BR’s leg finally healed.  I figured if our relationship can survive that, it can survive anything.  And although I would like him to be a bit more cautious, I really can’t stop him from playing a bunch of competitive sports that are probably far too dangerous for a man of his age.  So that’s fine.

But if he breaks his leg again I will murder him.