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Several years ago, I had the dubious privilege of attending the Iroquois Steeplechase as part of a magazine assignment. Surrounded by throngs of older Nashville blue bloods and the young preppie minions of the khaki brigade, all reveling in the unbearable whiteness of being, I sensed this odd, wink-wink attitude that seemed to pervade the proceedings: "Aren't we having fun pretending to be the silly, pretentious people that we in fact really are?" Some of these people are my friends, and one on one, I'm sure most attendees are pleasant, decent and charitable folks. But en masse, the Steeplechase high-society crowd is, in a sense, like heavy metal music: The line between parody and reality is virtually indistinguishable.
Which is why this sentence, from a Sunday Tennessean
piece titled "Steeplechase hors d'oeuvres rival horses
," really caught my eye: "In its 68 years, the Iroquois Steeplechase has brought Nashvillians of all types together for the horses, and for the food."
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All types? Perhaps so, if you believe that everyone in Nashville can be categorized in one of the following "types": "guys named Parker," "girls named Mackenzie," "high-functioning alcoholics," "trophy brides," "Men who have more than one red fox hunt jacket," "Range Rover owners," "direct descendants of Miles Standish" or "people who just want to get their drink on." (Admittedly, that last category could cover a good portion of the populace, so maybe I need to reconsider.)
Sure, Steeplechase is a Nashville tradition, so obviously our daily newspaper has to cover it. And in fairness, Tennessean
food writer Jennifer Justus did a respectable job in the piece, which covered the gustatory aspects of the event.
Still, you can't leave a hanging curveball like that out over the plate and expect Pith to just stand there with the bat on our shoulders, now can you?