Tim C went to the Kentucky Derby, and all I got was the burned-out shell of a VW Jetta

Now that sufficient time has passed and the story can be told without that funny feeling in the pit of my stomach that makes me feel like I might vomit, here’s the story:
Since we’ve been working so hard on getting out of debt lo these past eight months, we decided that Tim would go it alone at the Derby this year. This way, he could sleep on Bob’s couch, saving the approx. $1,000 in hotel accommodations and the additional expenses of us eating at all of our favorite Louisville restaurants, shopping at our favorite Louisville bookstores and record stores and the few dollars in mint juleps that I would probably drink over the course of the weekend.

This was a bad idea.

First of all, it was Tim’s 13th straight Kentucky Derby. Who knew that I was his good luck charm?

Anyway, things were going swimmingly until Saturday. Our surplus Oaks and Derby tickets had been sold to friends and Tim was flush with cash. Tim was having a great time with his old friends and even tied one on pretty good his first night in town. He got to hang out with the owners of one of the Oaks fillies in their sweet clubhouse box on Oaks Day, even going into the paddock for the saddling of the horses before the big race. Unfortunately, the horse didn’t win, but she ran a great race and gave the group quite an exciting ride. I was so jealous when I heard about how much fun he was having, but I was really happy that he was enjoying himself.

The boys and I decided to head down to my mom’s on Saturday morning, and Tim and I talked a couple of times that morning. It was a beautiful day in Louisville, so finding even a single Derby ticket was presenting more of a problem than Tim had expected. I assured him that he would find a good one and to just have a great time.

Now, I’m sure that I had only forgotten how expensive Derby tickets can be, especially good ones. Even singles. But when Tim called me up and told me that he spent $400 on a ticket for the Kentucky Derby, I nearly fainted dead away. That particular phone call ended badly.

Auggie was in need of a nap, and so was I, so we headed to mom’s guest room for a rest while Mom played with Elliott. I woke up before Auggie and as I was coming down the stairs, Mom was coming up with the phone. It was Tim.

I thought he was calling to give me an update on the Derby goings-on, since the race was less than 30 minutes away, but he was not. I don’t remember his exact words, but the gist was this: After our last phone call, Tim was a little deflated and decided to go back to Bob’s house to socialize a bit before the big race. While he was there, his friends with the Oaks horse invited him to join them on the backside of Churchill (the stable area across the track from the main plant) to watch the Derby. He was feeling guilty since he had spent so much on a ticket, but since he had never watched the race from there, he agreed. To get the friends’ car out for the ride over, however, Tim had to move his car first. (Can you hear the ominous music starting here?)

As he was walking up to the rail on the backside, Bob called with the unfortunate news that somehow, Tim’s car had caught fire, the fire department (located less than a mile away) had come to put out the fire, and the car was a total loss. From what they could tell, someone had dumped out their hot charcoal in the alley and when Tim re-parked his car, he parked right over the coals.

Oh. Crap.

After us both freaking out on the phone for a while (did I mention he was roaming the entire trip? Our first cell phone bill is approaching $400. double crap!), he decided to stay for the race and call the insurance claims department to see what the hell to do next. And he was good as his word, even holding up the cell phone for the claims agent to hear the roar of the Derby crowd during the race.

OK, this is long enough already. The rest is interesting to us, so I might continue this later, but the gist is this: The car was towed to the impound lot, totaled, of course. Tim was able to recover the several hundred dollars in cash residing in the glove compartment (for safe keeping, natch) that night. He caught a ride home with a friend that was passing through St. Louis (thanks, Aaron!). By Thursday of the next week, he had found an awesome used car, priced below market-value, settled with the insurance company on the car (blessed, blessed comprehensive insurance!), and paid for the car with cash. Awesome.