Collecting bottles, tossing leftovers, taking out the garbage
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The entries for the inaugural running of Your Life’s Stakes are in the gate. They appear to be set. And they’re off.
Full of Energy breaks well and jumps out into the lead, with Sense of Invincibility and Junk Food close behind. Galloping into fourth is Heart Murmur, who is now reined in and drops back into fifth beside Astigmatism on the rail, the rest of the pack trailing by a good nine lengths.
They head into the first turn, and Sense of Invincibility moves up to challenge Full of Energy. Those two duel neck and neck at a blistering pace, and now Sense of Invincibility, taking the turn a bit wide, edges out in front, with Astigmatism surging gamely to vie for third with Junk Food. Astigmatism makes a bold move past Junk Food and closer to Full of Energy, who runs evenly, as Heart Murmur again shows interest.
But it’s still Sense of Invincibility out front, slowing the pace on the backstretch after that torrid first-quarter duel with Full of Energy, who is falling way back: something’s not right with Full of Energy. And now Full of Energy has PULLED UP. He appears OK, but what a shame — after that brilliant show of speed.
In the meantime, applying pressure to Sense of Invincibility is Astigmatism, with Drinking and Drugs moving up nicely. Drinking and Drugs looks very comfortable out there, content to sit just behind Junk Food, who is now along the rail in third.
And there goes Drinking and Drugs! With a MONSTER move! Drinking and Drugs goes right by Astigmatism and takes on Sense of Invincibility. If Sense of Invincibility can withstand all this pressure, he’ll deserve every penny he earns.
But the front-runners’ lead has dwindled, and emerging from the pack is the longshot Just a Minor Surgery, followed by Heartburn, under stout restraint, along with My Aching Back, Where Are My Glasses, and Hypertension, all four abreast in front of Daily Walks and High-Fiber Diet.
And now the field is tightening, the back of the pack picking up speed. No more than five lengths separates the field as they make their way into the far turn, and here’s Heartburn moving past Drinking and Drugs, with Sense of Invincibility fading. My Aching Back is in fourth, a length behind Sense of Invincibility, and Hypertension appears a strong fifth, though he’ll have to contend with High-Fiber Diet, who looks to be the more eager as he comes up on the rail.
Now High-Fiber Diet is boxed in behind Junk Food. High-Fiber Diet is full of run, but he’ll have to wait for an opening. Heartburn, still out in front, has a length-and-a-half advantage as he heads into the clubhouse turn, though he’s already under the whip. Heartburn accelerates three, now four lengths ahead of My Aching Back and Just a Minor Surgery, both driving hard. It’s Heartburn they’ll all have to catch as they make their way to the top of the stretch.
Charging up on the far outside is Sleep Apnea, and just to his inside remains Hypertension, with Heartburn running all-out, trying to hang on to the lead. High-Fiber Diet, still on the rail in sixth, finds room, but he’s got work to do, and here, weaving through traffic, comes Car Accident! Car Accident, all the way from last, is pulling into the lead down the stretch!
But now, passing Heartburn and kicking into gear down the middle of the track is Shit I Can’t Breathe! Shit I Can’t Breathe is flying, and he’s right at Car Accident’s throat as they battle toward the finish! Shit I Can’t Breathe and Car Accident! They’re noses apart, heads bobbing as if one! Car Accident! Shit I Can’t Breathe! They’re INSEPARABLE, just ahead of Where’s the Damned Ambulance in third! Both of them growing weary; neither giving way! And now gaining and splitting the leaders is Where’s the Damned Ambulance! Shit I Can’t Breathe on the outside! Car Accident on the inside! Where’s the Damned Ambulance in between! Here’s the wire, and it’s . . . WHERE’S THE DAMNED AMBULANCE!
Photo for second between Shit I Can’t Breathe and Car Accident, and, with a late run to finish fourth, Caskets Cost More Than You Think.
I laughed as I read, and then reread, Mark Wisniewski’s too-short story “Your Life’s Stakes” [August 2007]. It is the funniest thing I have come across in a long time.
At fifty-seven I can heartily appreciate the author’s horse-race analogy for the breaking down of the body. At twenty-five or thirty or even forty, I wouldn’t have had such a belly laugh as I did today. My cat looked at me as if I had gone over the edge.