Playing the ponies


Partner and I went to Lincoln to play the Kentucky Derby last weekend. I put down four dollars! on two of the horses, mostly because of their names: Pants On Fire and Mucho Macho Man. Pants On Fire actually came in third, but sadly I bet on him/her to place, so I lost.



The Triple Crown races are important to Partner and me, and here’s why:



Back in the 1990s, when we were first getting acquainted, Partner took me to Newport to watch a jai-alai match. It was also the day of the Preakness (or maybe the Belmont; we’ve argued about this endlessly). I’d never bet on the horses in my life. Partner tutored me a bit, and explained exacta and pefecta and trifecta. The gist of it, basically, was that our birthdays (in triangulation with his sister’s birthday) created a perfect group of numbers: 7 / 10 / 11. And we had to bet these numbers.



Yeah, right, I thought.



I stood behind him in the betting line, so that I could watch him place his wager. It’s not really difficult; the guys taking the bets are used to rookies. When it came to be my turn, I bet a trifecta of 1 / 2 / 3. Why not? As Roseanne Barr said on her sitcom, it’s a “perfect straight.” And, I reasoned, it had as much chance of winning as any other set of numbers.



The next morning, Partner (who was in those days, I suppose, really Boyfriend) called me on the phone, very excited. “We won!” he yelled. “Twenty-three hundred dollars!”



“What are you talking about?” I said.



“The trifecta!” he said. “It came in! Seven-ten-eleven won! Twenty-three hundred dollars!”



“Congratulations,” I said. “You won.”



“Well, you won too,” he said. “You bet the same numbers, right?”



See, we hadn’t compared tickets afterward. He’d assumed that I’d accepted his birthday-trianguation reasoning, and . . .



So he won a bunch of money, and I didn’t.



To this day, sixteen years later, he has not let me forget it.



But we still bet the Triple Crown races. And one of us always bets 7 / 10 / 11.



Because you just never know.




About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

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