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A knock came to their apartment door. Her immediate reaction was, “Who the hell showed up this early,” only to realize that it was probably Todd returning from the liquor store.
“Sorry, babe,” he apologized as he walked in with both hands gripping a large box filled with bourbon and champagne. “I didn’t want to set the box down and get my keys out of my pocket.” Without much of a reaction, she went back into the bathroom and continued getting ready.
Everything seemed to be in place — the bar cart had been wheeled to the other side of their living area and was primed to get covered in bottles hailing from Kentucky, an oversized bouquet of roses rested on their kitchen island, and pimento cheese sandwiches were chilling in the refrigerator. Worried about the mess it would make, they decided against making chicken and simply ordered it from a hipster-y place in the neighborhood.
Poking out from the bathroom as Todd continued to unload the box of liquor, she asked, “How’s this look?” It was a dress Todd had never seen before — a Lilly Pulitzer print that hugged her body and cut off at the knees. A little loud for Todd’s taste, but he knew not to vocalize his actual opinion.
“That looks great, babe,” he assured her. “Do I really have to wear a seersucker suit for this, though?”
She rolled her eyes at him as it was a question she had fielded from him numerous times throughout the week leading up to The Kentucky Derby.
“Yes, Todd,” she responded sternly. “We’re hosts, act like a freaking host.”
Todd hated bow ties, and Todd grew to hate seersucker suits as well. They felt too “college” to him (and he barely fit in the one he bought as a pledge).
Speaking a little louder so she could hear him from the bathroom, he reiterated, “I think John is just wearing slacks and a button-down shirt — I think the suit might be overkill.”
There was no response. He assumed that the suit was solely a ploy for Instagram likes, which was almost certainly correct.
“Did you get the mint?” she finally asked.
“Yep, in the fridge.”
“Can you set out the monogrammed napkins my mom sent us last year?”
“They’re on the bar cart.”
“What about the chicken? When’s it getting here?”
“I told them to deliver it around 3 o’clock when people would start getting hungry again,” he affirmed.
As far as he was concerned, all the bases had been covered. If anything, they had too many bases covered. Todd wasn’t sick of The Kentucky Derby, but he was somewhat looking forward to taking this year off from doing it big. After all, if the last two years proved anything, it was that nothing good can actually come of getting drunk on brown liquor while cheering on a horse you had never heard of until the morning of the race.
Finally emerging from the bathroom with a full face of makeup on and bare feet, all she was missing was shoes and her hat — a hat that she had borrowed from her mom and stowed away in a box in their closet for an occasion such as this. She was pleased to see that almost everything was ready. Spending about a quarter of her time organizing the apartment while Todd ran morning errands, she spent the rest of her time putting on makeup and doing her hair.
“I told Caroline and John to come over a little early,” she told Todd who had just sat down on the couch to watch some TV. “Which means you need to get ready, like, now.”
Worried about how the party would pan out, she sent a group text to everyone emphasizing how excited she was (complete with a picture of Mint Julep supplies).
“Should we use a punch bowl for the Juleps, or do you just want to be a bartender for everyone?” she asked.
Todd knew that making a bowl of Juleps would essentially just be making a bowl of bourbon, so he begrudgingly accepted his role as bartender. As if he had any choice.
While he attempted to tie his bow tie while watching a YouTube tutorial, he could hear a commotion at the door. “Caroline and John,” he thought. And he thought right.
Peeking into the kitchen, he indeed saw John wearing nothing more than a linen button-down shirt and a pair of pants with some loafers. Knowing better than to get angry about the monkey suit he was going to have to parade around in all day, he attempted to go “out of sight, out of mind” and focus on the task at hand. It was only then that John popped into their bedroom and saw Todd getting ready.
“You know we’re not actually going to the Derby, right?” John joked. “Like you can take it down a notch and no one will think any less of you.”
Todd looked at him and said, “Don’t even get me started,” all with a blank expression on his face. “Can you get me a beer or something? I bought a bunch just in case we don’t feel like getting whiskey-drunk all afternoon.”
“Well, I’m getting whiskey-drunk all afternoon, Todd,” John warned him. “But yeah, I’ll get you some swill to sip on while you get pretty.”
“Fuck,” Todd muttered as John exited the room.
In the kitchen, Caroline asked if there was anything she could do to get ready. Looking around, she could pretty much tell that everything was taken care of which factored into her asking.
“You could pop a bottle of champs if you want,” she was told. “Mama’s thirsty and feeling goooood — I’m so glad we didn’t go out last night.”
“Yeah,” John interjected. “I’m feeling a little too good. Maybe we should’ve gone out last night so we wouldn’t go as hard today.” Both girls looked at each other and judged him.
Grabbing two beers from the fridge, John made his way back into the bedroom where Todd finally decided to abandon ship on the bow tie.
“I fucking hate these things,” Todd complained. “If she wants me to wear it, she’s going to have to put it on me herself.”
“Make sure I’m around when you tell her that,” John laughed. “I want a front row seat.”
Todd ran his hands through his hair before putting on his seersucker jacket.
“Alright, Colonel Sanders, who else is coming to this shindig?” John asked.
Todd straightened his shirt that was bunched under the jacket shoulder. “Honestly, I’m not sure — I know she talked to Katie, Alex, and Victoria but I removed myself from any planning other than being told what to do.”
John took a long sip of his beer. “So what you’re saying is that we’re going to spend most of the afternoon acting like photographers for their Instagram stories. Got it.”
Barely able to get his sentence out due to the commotion in the kitchen, Todd and John both looked at each other and wondered what the hell just happened. Before either of them could even formulate anything, Todd heard, “Claaaaaaire! I’m so glad you made it!”
John’s eyes widened before he mouthed, “Claire!”
“Not that Claire,” Todd whispered back.
“Wouldn’t be a Derby party without getting a little Claire involved,” John responded quietly enough that the girls outside couldn’t hear.
“Fuck you, John. Maybe it’s time for some bourbon.” .