Definitely Five Star!

Lynn Horton is a freelance writer and editor who in another lifetime taught English and Creative Writing at McIntosh High School and later worked in the Starr’s Mill High School Media Center.

I did initially choose “Always Dreaming” as my pick to win the Kentucky Derby, but at the last minute I changed my mind and selected “Classic Empire.” Both choices were based entirely on their names—I know zero about horses or racing.  I later discovered that my first choice, who was the eventual winner, was the 5 to 1 favorite going in to one of America’s most famous sporting events. Well, never mind. I’m sure there were quite a few of the 154,800 spectators who were much more aggrieved than I was after their horse (and after their presumably much higher bet than my “$5 on the nose”) lost on the muddy track of Churchill Downs. But, Oh My, these truly are “the most exciting two minutes in sports!”
Bill and I were the very fortunate guests of the Reeders on Saturday for the 143rd “Run for the Roses.” A handsome group of gentlemen in jackets, bow ties, and fedoras escorting lovely ladies in the season’s first sundresses and big, bold derby hats made me think I was in a Tennessee Williams play. We knew many of the folks there, but were charmed by several families new to Senoia and pleased to make the acquaintance of a very pleasant gentleman who knows everything there is to know about this county since the time of the Creek Indians! We were thrilled to get an invitation to visit his extensive collection of farm implements and his “personal museum”; I personally can’t wait to see what today’s cattle farm looks like. My granddaddy was a Mississippi cotton farmer and you know what they say about a girl and the farm.
Well, Senoia’s own Pearl Mesta* and her extremely talented husband and son put on quite the shindig for their lucky guests. Their home sported red roses on every table top, model horses and race paraphernalia were tucked about here and there, but the real kicker were the two gorgeous giant photographs hanging over the mantles in the front reception rooms. One, a faded 1930’s picture of the famous Downs, the other a show stopper of Secretariat in the winner’s circle! Talk about setting a stage. Nobody can do it better than Steph Reeder. And if the devil is in the details, then Dale Reeder supplied what Bill and I agreed was a highlight of the gorgeous spring evening.
At 6:30 p.m. Dale ceremoniously lifted his burnished trumpet skyward and sounded the “call to post.” Chill Bumps, folks. Chill Bumps.
The Reeder’s son Jared, an experienced chef, put on quite the show himself serving the party guests a menu we may all be able to enjoy at his new  restaurant “The Knife and Stone” opening soon in Newnan. I can only say that the perfectly cooked tenderloin, thinly sliced pieces of beef filet, and the smoked macaroni and cheese were some of the best I have ever put in my greedy little mouth! He also served a delicious appetizer loaf made from ground Italian sausage and pistachios wrapped in a sweet bacon that I could have been happy with if I had nothing else to eat. But I did. And drink? Well, you can’t have a Kentucky Derby party without a little bourbon and someone in that house had indeed concocted the most amazing Blackberry/Bourbon punch! Oh Yum. Five Stars. Definitely. 5 Stars!
On Monday I attended a much different event, and I seemed to have been the one in charge of decorations, costumes and entertainment.  In fact, I was the only one who showed up in a peasant shirt, with a ring of daisies in my hair and carrying my very own portable May Pole! Our writer’s group sometimes gets together, not for our regular Saturday morning “work session,” but for a special luncheon. This month the leader of our motley crew suggested that we could celebrate the pagan Beltane, a Celtic/ Wiccan May Day as it would be indeed the first day of May. She also suggested that those who preferred could bring a VHS tape of “Norma Rae” and we could march around the patio at the Senoia Library, where we normally meet, expressing solidarity for worker’s rights, or if that didn’t float your boat, anyone who wanted to celebrate Cinco de Mayo a little early should bring enough salsa and chips for all. “Better yet, we can each pick our own celebration and meld them into some twisted pagan workers’ rights Mexican battle victory. I, for one, can’t wait!” Kimberly Sullivan, leader and instigator of this and other spur-of-the-moment events like the annual Christmas White Elephant gift swaps, enthused. I was game.
But as mentioned earlier, I was met with blank stares and widened, questioning eyes, not the looks of admiration and veneration I expected (and most certainly deserved) when I arrived carrying my 6′ tall lace and ribbon-bedecked May Pole!
I did elicit a few smiles and kind remarks after Kim reminded the group of dumb-founded (good word) writers of her email challenge. Gheeeeze. These are supposed to be creative people for crying out loud. But there was not a single daisy, hand-lettered sign or corn chip among the other eight members. Three Stars at best.
Thank goodness for my having taken up the gauntlet, or “relever le gant” as we more erudite writers would say in French. The other four ladies did finally, and rather enthusiastically I might add, form a circle, each grasping a long silk ribbon, and perform an unrehearsed May Day Dance. Sigh. Definitely Three Stars.
Oh, well. There’s always next year.

*FYI. Mesta was a wealthy and extremely influential Washington hostess who brought celebrities from film and stage into the political arena through her lavish parties where the beautiful and powerful people mingled. She was called “the hostess with the mostest” throughout the 1940’s and 50’s.  What a gal.

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