Saturday May 4, 2013 in southern tradition the WASPiest of the WASPs donned their pastels and seer sucker, tied various knots around their necks and watched the 139th Annual Kentucky Derby. Roughly 1,000 miles away from Churchill Downs, we had a celebration of our own.
I told myself I wouldn’t write this article this year. Sophomore year, at the peak viewership of my first real stab at a blog, A Change in Attitude, my partner-in-crime the one Ms. Auriell Towner and I had a front row seat to the event of the season. Everyone was a winner at KDErby and we happily documented the event and reported it to the world - or at least the Dartmouth community. Last year, in my brief stab at a talk show, I brought in some friends to cover the event. My “show” may have been “cancelled” by the “network” (read: the D, no doubt, got tired of my delusions of grandeur) but the documentation will forever live on through the interwebs. The multi-media component really brought an experience largely remembered by the abundance of photographs taken to life and I can never be too grateful to my friends Nate Davis and Henry Michaels for doing those hard-hitting interviews.
The one thing both follow-ups had in common - the visceral response. Apparently, the Dartmouth community has an affinity for anonymous online haters. The comments generally touched on the exclusivity of the event, being that it’s invite only, and the perpetuation of elite American culture and exorbitant wealth by celebrating an event so decadent and that so clearly demonstrates the socioeconomic gap between the wealthiest people in our society and the rest of the country. The irony of students at an Ivy League institution complaining about the perpetuation of the American Elite notwithstanding, the root of the comments were the same ones we’ve been hearing since the 6th grade when Tommy Dorfman (my love, my life, my inspiration) was banned from allowing his party bus to use the carpool lane in front of the school to pick up the guests of his 12th Birthday Bash. Exclusivity was fundamentally not a part of our small private school and almost a decade later, it shouldn’t be part of Dartmouth either. I’ll let that sit.
For that reason I told myself I was not going to write about Derby this year. And then the 2013 MET Ball happened. I scoured my Hinman box and my junk mail looking for my invite - I’m still not 100% convinced that it wasn’t lost in the mail. In my small pond, the closest thing I have to a MET ball right now is this Derby or as I insist on calling it “the event of the season.” It’s not like anything even really happens. Note to the sisters of KDE: a projection of the race would be a great addition. I watched the race for the first time this year and felt a little underwhelmed, almost cheated. Perhaps it’s because I hadn’t bet thousands of dollars on a horse, or maybe it’s because I had built the event up in my mind so much that the reality could never meet my expectations - as is the case with most things in my life. Derby is my dream Dartmouth. It’s what I wish life was like every single day. Everyone dressed in their finest clothes, bowties, pastels and an abundance of Lilly Pulitzer, may she rest in peace.
My senior spring nostalgia has kicked into full gear and knowing that my last Derby has come and gone is definitely strange. But with a pilgrimage to Churchill Downs on my bucket list and events like the MET ball, I clearly have much to which I can aspire. I don’t have anything new to add to the conversation I began two years ago in my first article, but suffice it to say everyone looked damn good. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself.