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Going to the Cox Plate with the Mild-Mannered Lawyer has become an annual event. It’s pretty easy for something to become an annual event, you know. You do it one year and then the following year you do it again. As they say in the classics: “Too easy!”

Last year, we were living the high life in the Members area. It was all champagne-in-glass-bottles and gourmet sausages. This year, however, we were slummin’ it in General Admission with sparkling-wine-in-plastic-bottles and rolls from “The Meat Shop”.

“Doesn’t he know who I am!” I told the MML when I heard her usual contact hadn’t been able to get us Member passes.

Indeed, when we first arrived in all our races finery, I remarked “There’s a man in skinny jeans and a ‘HEAPS COOL’ t-shirt. I clearly don’t belong here. For one thing, ‘HEAPS COOL’ is grammatically incorrect and I’m a writer, you know…”

I was also growing increasingly angry at the number of doorways we couldn’t enter because of our non-Member status. I vowed that, once we’d drunk our next bottle of champagne, I’d march up to the information counter and ask them if we, ‘The People’, would still be denied entry to the Members’ area in the event of a fire.

Of course, by the time the next bottle of champagne had been drunk, I was past caring and, in fact, had decided that General Admission was as good as Members – if not better.

For one thing, while the General Admission (GA) area was a little short on toilets and has limited access to the track (“Horses? What horses?”), at least we could sit unchallenged in a stairwell. In Members the previous year, we had found ourselves trapped in a World of No. We were always being stopped by officials for transgressing Members rules: no alcohol in lifts, no glass bottles in the stands, no napping under tables…

Also, the GA area had an AGE VERIFICATION tent where you could go up and get a little wristband allowing you to buy alcohol unchallenged. It gave me the opportunity to run up to to the bewildered Age Verification staff and blurt out “I’m – tee hee hee – turning 40 – tee hee hee – and my friend’s taking a photo – tee hee hee.”

Unfortunately, I couldn’t get an age verification wristband because I didn’t have my ID on me. I thought that was a good enough indication that I still looked under 18. Yep, that’s totally it.

Indeed, later, a jolly (=drunk) guy beckoned me over. That never happened to me in Members.

“You’re a bit geeky-looking, but you’re nice,” he said, rather generously.

“Aw, bless!” I said, patting him on his arm. “You know, mate? I hate to break it to you but I’ve got three kids and I’m turning 40 in less than two weeks.”

“Well, I’m 26 and I’m raring to go!” he replied, with some enthusiasm.

He really was very drunk, but at least he wasn’t wearing a fluorescent suit. Which is more than you could say for a lot of the GA crowd.

You see, one of the best things about the GA area was the number of men who laughed in the face of fashion and good taste. And I discovered that one of the best things about iPhones is that you can look like you’re checking your messages but secretly you can be taking photos of young men in startlingly coloured clothing, like some kind of Germaine Greer-inspired pervy-pants cougar person.

In fact, I ended up taking so many pictures that I started a segment called ‘Suit Of The Day’ on twitter. It had a theme song and everything  – although its genius was somewhat lost in a text and photo based format. It went: “Suit of the day, suit of the day, suit of the day… Suit of the day!” (I recommend you sing it as you look at the following pictures. Truly, it will enhance your viewing pleasure.)

“Next year, I’m doing ‘Shoe Of The Day’,” I told the MML a little drunkenly, as we waited for the bus to go home. “I don’t want to become typecast as the ‘Suit Girl’. I might even do ‘Shih-Tzu Of The Day’!”

Although there’s not a lot of Shih-Tzus at the races, granted. But who knows? Maybe next year, I could galvanise The People to rise up in protest to allow the Shih-Tzus of the world admission to the races, even if they are mostly owned by the Members.

You see, that’s the best thing about annual events. There’s always the promise of next year…

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The other day I found myself star-jumping off the wagon, wearing heels and a fascinator that made me look half-bird, half-showgirl. Yes, folks, it was another day at the races for this party girl.

For the record, I had a great afternoon, which is pretty much guaranteed when you’re with eight friends, all dressed up to the nines, drinking champagne with a straw and even winning some money on the horses. (At one point, I won $7.60. Yes, $7.60. I swaggered up to the TAB counter and announced “I’m a winner, baby! Let the one dollar coins roll…..”)

There was only one disappointment. A minor thing, really, but in my slightly drunken state, it became the sole focus of my very being. You see,  there didn’t seem to be any Rich Gentleman willing to buy us rounds of drinks.

When I confided my disappointment to one friend, she was appalled. “What? Are you willing to put out or something? Drinks from gentleman of any financial status come at a price.”

“Of course I’m not willing to ‘put out’,” I replied. “Nobody would have to ‘put out’. These gentlemen will buy us alcohol for the pure pleasure of watching a group of beautiful, well-dressed women get really really piss-faced and then fall over their own high heels trying to dance the Macarena for no good reason at all. What other reward could they possibly need?”

I might have continued, except I dropped my betting slips, and, in bending down to retrieve it, got the man in the seat in front of me  square in the eye with my fascinator.

“Sorry! So sorry!” I said, before throwing in a hasty “Are-you-rich?”

Apparently he wasn’t rich. At least that’s what he said before he took himself off to sick bay with his eye injury.

Anyway, I decided the group-thing was cramping my style so I took to standing at the bar by myself. If I smiled at a Rich Gentleman and he smiled back, surely that would get me a drink? Of course, I couldn’t just smile at everyone at the bar, in case I got picked up for soliciting in the Members’ Area. But then again, I couldn’t exactly tell who was rich and who wasn’t. I mean, I wouldn’t know an expensive suit unless it walked over and bought me a bottle of Moet.

So I made the Mild-Mannered Lawyer come stand with me. She’s a lawyer, after all. Money is her second language! I was explaining my strategy when a group of young men nearby started hooting and high-fiving each other. One of them had obviously enjoyed a sizable win so if they weren’t rich before, they were now.

“Quick!” I said to the Mild-Mannered Lawyer. “If we go stand near them, when one of them shouts ‘Drinks are on me!’, we can be part of their round.”

The Mild-Mannered Lawyer refused to go with me, so I walked over and stood awkwardly nearby but they barely noticed me, even though I was wearing half a bird on my head.

On my way back to the MML, I saw another pair of nice young gentlemen. “Excuse me but are you rich?” I asked, as politely as I could for a drunken woman twice their age.

“No,” they said, somewhat nervously, stepping back slightly. Their mothers had obviously put them on High-Cougar-Alert.

Anyway, I ask you all: what is the point of getting all dressed up if rich men aren’t going to buy you drinks? Shuh! Next time I go to the races (and there will be a next time, right, MML?), I am pre-ordering some Rich Gentleman via RSVP. Look out for me there. I’ll be the half-bird half-showgirl who states she’s looking for “Free Drinks Only’. Classy.

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When I originally accepted an invitation to the Members Area at The Races with the freshly-single Mild-Mannered Lawyer, I imagined that I would mostly be there on some kind of security detail. You know, screening the menfolk as they approached her: “Sorry, your shoes are too beige, git away back!… How much do you earn? Okay, you can talk to her but you Can. Not. Touch…. You? You’re cute. But I might have to snog you first as a precautionary measure…” Etcetera, etcetera. 

I also imagined that I would look reminiscent of a slightly older yet still beguiling Audrey Tautou in the black 1960s cocktail dress I had chosen to wear and that we would both be sitting around on a red velvet chairs in the Member’s Lounge, being elegant and witty and drink champagne from crystal-cut glasses. 

What I didn’t count on was that I would still be in incredible pain and heavily medicated following my oral surgery the previous week. That the only way I could possibly be said to resemble Audrey Tautou was if she were to play the role of a mad woman who’d decided to store nuts for winter in one half of her face. And that I would make a last-minute – and somewhat uncharacteristic – decision to wear heels. And that there would be nowhere at all to sit – not even along the long concrete ledges where there’d be some girl sitting with a couple of half-drunk alco-pops who’d say “Sorry, those seats are taken!” and make me mutter loudly to the MML “Oh, the poor dear. She thinks those bottles are her little friends.” Not to mention that she counted a narrow concrete ledge as “seats”. Desperate times, people. Desperate times. 

Nor could I have foretold that the MML would insist on placing bets with the independent bookies and that I’d end up saying “I bet you don’t get to see big money like this very often!” to one bookie as I poured a handful of twenty cent coins into his hand for a “$1 bet each way on Horse 14”. 

Or that I’d win $42 off the $9 I placed in bets.

Or that we wouldn’t get an iota of male attention until the very last race, by which time we’d have drunk three bottles of champagne between us and all my weight would have slowly transfered to the front of my feet so that my two big toes were essentially holding up my 75kg frame. And that I’d be almost pathetically grateful for the pain because it at least took my mind off my aching jaw. 

Anyway, let’s just say that I wasn’t exactly in a discerning state of mind when a gaggle of 30-something boys in crisp suits and pastel ties surrounded us and started making remarks about gettin’ them some sweet cougar lovin’ even though we clearly weren’t that much older than them. Clearly. Good-natured creatures that we were (we were also very drunk), we let them take photos of us and examine out our fingers for wedding ring marks and The MML even spot-checked each of them for “beer girth” – although, ostensibly, that should have been my job in my capacity as her Door Bitch. Some friend I turned out to be. 

Then, when they suddenly disappeared off to the bar and the one left behind to “mind us” decided to call his mother – yes, his mother – the MML and I had a quick conference.

“Do you think they’ve gone off to buy us a magnum of Moet?” I asked her, always hopeful.

“I don’t know,” The MML replied. “They might just come back with five coldies for themselves.”

Which it was, we’ll never know. We chose to slink off mysteriously into the crowd, like the cougars that we were. And actually, it was lucky we didn’t stay because, as the MML herself put it later, if she’d drunk any more champagne she might have thrown up and that might have “ruined the magic”.

Anyway, the point is this: who’d have known that I could wear heels and drink as much as I did on the amount medication I was on without falling over?  Or that my fascinator would end up staying on my head and not falling in the toilet? Or that I’d end up spending so little and laughing so much at a day at the races?

Thanks for a great day out, MML.

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