“From the Streets of L. A.” meets British Aristocracy in a Clash of Social Class & Culture — on Horseback.
The other night at a fancy high end establishment restaurant, I met a dignified “Chap” who asked me a question I never conceived of ever hearing in my life. The chances of someone in America asking you this question is 17,000,698,000,245,349 Kajillion to 1. “Do you play Polo?” Asking this question in America would be the equivalent of asking someone, “Have you flown into outer space recently?” or “When was the last time you frolicked upon your Unicorn. You have a Unicorn, of course, don’t you?”
The other thing which occurred to me is how a “wrong side of the tracks” American male would interpret the question, “do you play Polo?” (after “wtf,”) was “which Polo?” “Water Polo” or “Pocket Polo?” In that case, the answers would be “yes” and “no.” Yes, I have played water Polo in high school, and even though I am a decent swimmer, I almost drowned. Because in water Polo, you hardly swim, you mostly tread water. I am tall and large and keeping my big ass afloat upright treading water is no task you do in manner with any idea approaching longevity. You do it for 3 to 7 seconds after you fall in a pool drunk, then get out. There are not “quarters” or “periods” of time where my ass will be treading water that long and not succumbing to water induced asphyxiation.
As far as “pocket Polo,” for you dignified English Elites (or Yanks) unfamiliar with the term, this is a form of public masturbation engaged in by mostly adolescent males or perverts that involved placing one’s hands into your pants pocket and playing around with one’s balls like a soccer game in your pants. Not only is it utterly disgusting, it is a legal offence in most counties and districts in the United States. Being a player of pocket Polo, or even occasionally engaging in the sport has never been a temptation I have personally struggled with. And given the context of the scene of the question, and the dignity of the English Chap addressing it to me, I quickly realized this could not be the form of Polo he was referring to.
That would leave only one option—he was asking me if I played “Polo” like, the real deal Polo, like the one on horses where guys with little pith helmets dressed in tennis gear, crank horses to the right and left in large groups (are they in teams, or is it like “kill the guy with the ball” on horses?). On top of these swiftly moving steeds, you swing a long-ass wooden mallet trying to knock a ball the size of a grapefruit around on a grass field.
My unspoken thought, was of course, “Hell no, Jack, I don’t play Polo!” What kind of fool would I be getting my big ass high up on a fast moving horse trying to whack a ball with a mallet I could not even hit with both my feet planted on the ground, golf style? That is like trying to balance an unboiled egg on my nose, while riding a camel.
The other logistical problem with my ignorant American ass trying to play English Horse Polo, is it is on a horse. This isn’t the Wild Wild West, man. We drive cars in the States. Even cowboys stopped riding horses, they use 4-wheel drive trucks to herd farm animals nowadays. So yeah, I have ridden a horse, like on a pony ride as a kid. But, coming from Los Angeles, it’s not something everybody does or knows how to do.
The first few times I rode a horse for real I was literally shot off of the top of it by the horse. The problem with horses is they are about 1000 times more athletically gifted and kinetic than me, and about 100 times smarter than me. So when a big dumb ass like me hesitantly gets on one, they throw you off pretty quick. This increases one’s chances of breaking your dam neck a thousand fold over just walking, or even skateboarding with one leg.
So when the “Chap” asked me, “Do you play Polo?” the question was akin to asking me, “Do you jump off of seven story buildings on the regular?” Hell no, Jack! Here is another problem: You are swinging a heavy wooden mallet towards the ground to hit the hard grapefruit. The horses legs you are on top of is in the same vicinity—near the ground. Uhhhh, if I miss (which is 100% guaranteed 99.9999% of the time) you have an excellent chance (especially busting a quick left or right or U turn like those dudes do) of whacking out the joints or knees of the frantic steed you are so precariously seated upon. Well, what would happen then? This mighty beast would shriek a deep and horrible cry of pain. It would stop immediately. Your entire torso would go flying off the top of it over its head. This has already happened to me two times simply trying to ride a horse normal speed and not futilely trying to whack a grapefruit with a heavy mallet on top of it.
Once one’s torso was cast into the skies, your body would plummet at high speed into the turf, breaking one’s neck, kind of like what happened to Superman (Christopher Reeves) a long while back. Now, every American remembers that incident, which no doubt helped contribute to the rapid decline of horse riders (sorry, “Equestrians”) in America. Christopher Reeves was the 1st big Hollywood reboot of the infamous “Superman” industrial franchise complex. He was handsome, no doubt made “bank” (American slang for “a lot of money”) on those movies. He probably had tons of “chicks” (American Slang: “Attractive sexy women”) after him. Probably rolling in bad ass cars, classic ones no doubt. But as a “hobby,” his Equestrian ass gets thrown off of a horse, breaks his neck, and now he is a paraplegic. Now, if that is not some shit right there. You got the world by the balls. Your ass gets on a horse for “fun.” You get thrown off of it, crack your spine into 1000 pieces, and . . . and nothing! You broke your dam neck. You are done. On top of the world to the bottom for a horsing adventure, that even Superman himself could not handle.
So anyway, after the invention of the motor carriage by Henry Ford, no other incident in American history has contributed more to the decline of horse riding in American more than Superman (SUPER-man, get the irony?) getting his dam neck broke on a high speed horse sporting incident.
So, British Aristocracy “Homeboy” wants to know if I play Polo? “Hell, to the No!” But, to get back to how this game would play out for me, once one has (at an estimated guaranteed rate of 100.999% surety) miss-swing your heavy wooden mallet, brutally cracking the joints and or knees of the large hefty steed you ride upon, hear its unholy, unearthly beastly shriek, get catapulted off its back, having your torso slammed at high speed into hard turf (with other nuts on horses riding all around you, like in a freeway traffic jam), cracking your neck, all down your spine, deep into your big toe, turning you instantly into a quivering bucket of flesh-jelly, then! . . . Then, the mangled beast’s ¼ ton body would crash on top of you, instantly crushing what few coherent pieces of flesh you still had intact into a slimy puddle of blood, gelatinous fluid, full of quivering pain. And worst of all, you would have missed hitting the high-holy grapefruit you were trying to bob across a field for God knows what reason.
So, no sir, I do not play Polo. This Yank would not play Polo if you gave me a million quid or whatever the hell the money is in Britain. If the Queen herself asked me, “Sir Frank, would thou likest to frolic upon my equestrian beasts upon my holy royal Polo field, joining the other pompous dukes, knights, lords, and non-commoners, then join me for some afternoon tea?” My answer would still be the same. Negative.