Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm not that girly. Then I am forced back into remembering that my main playtime activity from ages 7-9 was pretending with my friends that we were horses. (Before that we mostly pretended we were pregnant.)
There is nothing more stereotypically girly than the childhood horse obsession. There are My Little Ponies and Black Beauty and National Velvet and the Black Stallion series and on and on. It is not clear which came first: the horse-industrial complex or the fascination of small girls for horses, although given that I grew up in a milieu pretty goddamn devoid of horses, I can only assume it was all those books telling me that I should care about them that started it all. We used to fight over who got to be which color horse. Exactly.
Little girls who have never seen a horse may or may not right now be fighting over who gets to be the palamino ths time. But given that as recently as the early to mid eighties that debate was raging hotly, how come horse racing is dying?
Yes, I went to the track today. Hollywood Park, the seedier of the two local racetracks, is in season, so I took the bus to Inglewood. There's something great about making a significant trek by local bus without transferring. People come and go, making complete trips, and the bus fills, than empties, then fills again, all while you stare out the window. It had been a while since I had taken a bus outside my zone of familiarity, and I found myself getting nervous that I would somehow fail to see the enormous racetrack out the window of the bus and miss my stop. Fortunately, Tomas was there to tell me to get off the bus. This was, it turned out, unnecessary, because the bus driver had already promised to tell me when the stop came up, and because, as I on some level knew, Hollywood Park is pretty hard to miss. But Tomas meant well, and although I declined to call him Smooth ("Say, 'Good afternoon, Smooth'") we parted on good terms.
The track was pretty goddamn desolate. Litter everywhere, sea gulls, dead-eyed small children, and a generally jaundiced view from the racing programme -- of the favorite in one race, they said "There's not a whole lot of speed in the race, and he has a little zip." In other words, it was great. Nobody bothered me; I got asked for my opinion in one race and declined to give it; the horses blew me away.
But it's pretty funny, the gap in horse perception. Either it's pastel colored my little ponies, or it's drinking in the afternoon and cursing furiously as your horse loses.
I had to run to catch the bus back. I got on, and the bus driver said, with a certain amount of disapproval, "You were at that track."