• Davis Young

In that moment, I realized I was neither old money nor new money.


Some years back, we made several trips to Charlottesville in southern Virginia to join with college friends attending horse steeplechases. If you’ve never been to a steeplechase, the well-trained horses and their riders put on a good show as they come by multiple times on a long, set course. A good steeplechase draws thousands of people wandering around on beautiful property feeling good about themselves and, in the back of their minds, asking how such an important happening would include someone like me?


A steeplechase is a social event every bit as much as - and perhaps even more than - an athletic contest. If you’re at a steeplechase and you pay attention, my experience is that you will see three distinct types of people.


  • Group one are self-important, but low profile attendees. You don’t know them. They aren’t self-promoters hoping some media person will ask if it’s alright to take their picture. Old money likes a low profile. But you know they’re important because they are attending the same event you are. Many steeplechase spectators carry themselves as models of understated success.

  • That said, there are others who clamor for attention. They are clearly new money and want to be noticed. They’re easy to spot because they dress to the nines - men in blazers and neckties and women with hats that rival anything you might see at the Kentucky Derby. Unlike old money, new money wants you to take their picture.

  • The third group includes the heavy drinkers. Steeplechases are all-day events and cocktail hour starts very early. Heaven forbid that anyone would ever be thirsty at a steeplechase. It must be five o’clock somewhere is an expression you might well hear as early as 10 a.m. as the Bloody Marys and Mimosas are served as an integral part of steeplechase tail-gating.


All this is a mere prelude to a weekend up in the horse country of northern Virginia. We were invited to a major steeplechase near the home of a college friend. Also attending would be my college roommate and another college friend.


On the day we were to start a six hour car trip to our host’s home, it occurred to me that I should bring a gift. I had not seen this person for many years and had no knowledge of what he might like. So, I took a shot in the dark, ventured out to our neighborhood liquor store and purchased four bottles of very fine White Zinfandel. I knew it was premium wine because each bottle cost $6.00. My total tab for four was $24.00. I carefully gift-wrapped my treasured cargo in a brown paper bag with some of that morning’s Cleveland Plain Dealer wedged between the bottles to keep them from clanking and - worse yet - breaking.


As we turned into our host’s driveway, I knew immediately I was in trouble. That driveway was at least a quarter-mile long and on both sides were herds of prize cattle. Off in the distance I could see his home - large with enormous white pillars. Just beyond the house were vintage cars - at least three or four. What was I to do? It was too late to turn around and buy better wine. I just had to suck it up and commit to living with everlasting embarrassment.


The host and my college roommate were outside awaiting our arrival. I pulled up and retrieved the paper bag with four $6.00 bottles of wine and said, I hope you’ll enjoy this small gift of appreciation. Our host responded, This is absolutely wonderful. I’ll chill these down right away and we’ll have them for dinner tonight. And, much to my chagrin, we did have that terrible, cheap wine that very night.


What happened next is a memory I cannot shake. My college roommate - who preceded my wife as my roommate - said, Davis, would you like to see Bob’s wine cellar? Mortified, but ever the good guest, I gulped and responded, Of course. Off we went to a temperature-controlled wine cellar with 1,100 bottles of imported French wine in wooden crates. I have had many instances of abject humility in my life, but that was by far my largest experience of feeling small.


But, I couldn’t let total humility stop me. Up and at ‘em the next morning, and we were off to the last steeplechase I ever attended. I am not old money and I definitely kept my head down that day, but several attendees did come up to me and ask, Didn’t you used to be somebody?


Four bottles of crummy $6.00 wine. What kind of person would be so classless as to give that as a gift? The guilt and shame I carry from having done that will last a lifetime. I’ve been in counseling for 30 years trying to come to grips with what I did. I still can’t shake it.

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

Not sure I like pumpkin pie THAT much!


We made a trip to the State of Maine a bit earlier this month. I was very much looking forward to eating a lot of lobster. I was not looking forward to Maine weather in mid-October as I knew it would be wet and cold.


Boy was I ever wrong on both counts.


If you’re going to Maine anytime soon, get ready for lobster roll prices as high as $36. That’s $36 for a bun, a few chunks of lobster and some mayonnaise. That strikes me as a bit pricey and this was not a one-time event. I was in multiple dining establishments where lobster rolls were north of $30. The lowest I encountered was $22. Ouch. I passed.


As to the rainy and cold weather - that was just another one of those factless predictions that give TV weather people a bad name for accuracy. The weather was spectacular - all day every day - with a high of 79 degrees. The weather could not have been nicer. Not a single drop of rain.


I obviously didn’t do my homework on the inflated prices for lobster rolls or the potential for San Diego quality weather. How wrong can one guy be?


Rather than bury my head in a pillow at some B & B, I couldn’t let my two preconceived notions ruin the trip. I listened to a local friend as he recommended we put the town of Damariscotta on the itinerary. The town’s name is Indian and means river of little fish. Now you know.


Most readers have probably never been to Damariscotta, Maine. It proclaims itself to be the oyster capital of New England. Local legend has it that it’s Maine’s best kept secret. I suspect that’s a false claim as we passed through a number of other towns that could easily and fairly make the same claim.


The Damariscotta population is a shade north of 2,000 hearty souls who put up with the cold weather and lobster roll prices. Across the Damariscotta River is the town of Newcastle with a population of a tad under 2,000. The combined metropolitan area population of what are called the Twin Villages is 4,000, give or take. This metropolitan area is a force to be reckoned with.


The population swells dramatically as thousands more pour into town for the annual Pumpkin Fest. If you haven’t been to Damariscotta and soaked up the local culture, Pumpkin Fest is not to be believed. The winning pumpkin weighed 2,121.5 pounds this year. For sure, that will make a large pumpkin pie or two. That was the weight of just ONE of the local pumpkins.


Amazing to know that - and even more amazing to see it propped up on a flatbed like a big orange blob in contrast to the modest local homes that are almost always painted white. Many other, underfed, pumpkins, weighing just hundreds of pounds, are carved and painted and on spectacular display throughout the main street. If you ever want your picture taken with an outsized pumpkin, Damariscotta is the place and October is the time.


Me? I’d go back to Maine in a heartbeat. In the meantime, I will put up with the Cleveland weather and substitute Lake Erie walleye for lobster.

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

  • Davis Young

I am just getting started.


Last week marked 52 blogs. Today we turn the calendar to the next 52. If you’re a loyal reader, thank you. If you are a dis-loyal one, then boo on you.


I am asked all the time about what inspired me to start writing a blog and how I come up with a fresh topic every week?


The answer to the first of those questions is that my wife, Karen, and our daughter, Tracy, conspired to get me going. You’d be a great blogger. People will be fighting each other to see what you write. That’s all it took, just a little appeal to my outsized ego.


Then came some sage advice from the two of them. Don’t get all hung up on serious stuff. Make it a quick read. Stay far away from politics. Don’t write about our immediate past President. Have some fun. Keep it light.


At that point, the ball was in my court. Hmmmm. How often should I blog? Right from the outset, it was going to be once a week. What day of the week should my blog be posted? I said no to Monday. Everybody’s got too much to do to pay attention on a Monday. I skipped a day and went to Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. None of those work. All my potential readers start preparing for the weekend on Wednesday and really crank it up the last two days. So, Tuesday was the only choice left - and that’s how I made it.


Now, as to subject matter. I insisted from the outset that I have a bank of 10 finished blogs before we would post one. I wanted to get in the rhythm and make sure I could sustain the pace and the pressure I knew was just around the corner. The immediate chore was to establish a list of potential topics. I came up with 304. Yes, 304. I selected 10 of what you might call low hanging fruit and was off to the races.


After subtracting a few that weren’t on the original 304 list, I still have more than 250 ideas in the bank. And, of course, I slip new ideas in all the time. What this means is that you will continue to be bombarded with fresh new blogs for a long time to come assuming the Good Lord sees my blogs as a contribution to a better world and keeps me around to write them. It’s really important to have a big inventory. Bloggers never know when they’ll hit writer’s block.


It’s been a lot of fun. Tracy is my editor, art director and overall technology consultant. Every blogger needs a second set of eyes, and the role of content critic is assigned to Karen. She slipped right into that because she’s had lots of practice criticizing me for 60 years.


I’ve made some new friends. I don’t think my blog has cost me any old friends. Some former reader reminded me recently, Davis, at your age, all your friends are old friends. I don’t need that kind of friend (or reader).


Hard to believe, but I’ve now been doing this for a year. I’ve had a ton of fun cranking out these blogs. Most have been lighthearted. I hope you’ve had a laugh or two. Share them as you wish. Anger is everywhere these days. We all need to step back and chill out. Stand down and enjoy. Our world will be a lot better if we stop taking ourselves so seriously. Smile.


Cheers. Happy reading. See you again next Tuesday with breaking news from the blogosphere.


Thanks for reading my stuff.

DY: In Just a Few Words is a blog that comes out when something needs to be said or every Tuesday - whichever comes first. Davis Young is a communications professional who adds 50+ years of experience and perspective to issues of the day. His emphasis in DY: In Just a Few Words will be humor (a touch of sarcasm here, a pinch of facetiousness there...). Once in a while, he will touch on something a bit more serious - but hopefully not too deep or depressing.


This blog is a product of DY Author & Speaker LLC. Feel free to quote content with attribution. Respond. Agree. Disagree. Share the content with your friends. Heck - even invite him as a speaker for your group! Enjoy!

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