How else do you know you're retired? When you begin to realize that you have a lot of time on your hands and can take a day and go off and do something new and different and a little off-the-beaten track.
"Yeah?" says I. "So what?"
"I've never been to a polo match. Why don't we go?"
"I like the horses," she says by way of explanation.
So we went to a polo match . . . proving that we have a lot of time on our hands. So we must be retired.
|Here they come!|
Luckily the announcer, a pleasant older woman with a southern accent, offered some color commentary, along with calling the action of the game, so we could understand at least a little about what was going on. For example, she told us that a polo field is ten acres. You can fit nine football fields into a polo field, and still have room left over.
|View from the booth|
Each team has four players, numbered 1 through 4. As best I could figure, the Number 1 player is the scorer; the Number 4 player is the defender; and Numbers 2 and 3 are in the middle to set up plays.
|A number 4 player|
All you have to do is hit the ball with your mallet into the opposing team's goal, which is undefended by a goalie. But it's definitely harder than it looks.
|Scrambling for the ball|
First of all, the horses -- or ponies as they're called -- tend to bunch up around the ball, getting in each other's way. And then someone might break out and suddenly the horses are flying -- at up to 35 m.p.h. we were told.
|On the run|
The ball can get tangled up in the horses' feet, or go sailing up into the air. It can't be too easy to strike the ball when it's bouncing along off the bumps on the ground and the divots left by the horses' hooves.
Players are ranked from -2 up to 10. So if you're ranked at 1, you're not the worst, you're three steps up the ladder. Don't ask me why.
The horses look very smooth and elegant when you're watching them across the field. But when they get close, you can feel the weight, the power, the speed of the animals. It may be the sport of kings; but there is nothing delicate or formal about it.
|Yes, women play too|
I really don't know if polo is a rich person's sport. We did see a few flutes of champagne and some fancy women's hats and people nibbling canapes under the shade of tents. But there was a lot of tailgating going on as well. And the only admission charge was $10 for parking. Which makes it a lot more reasonable than . . . oh say, the U. S. Open tennis championships going on in New York right now.
|Flowers, drinks and hats|
Which is what my next post is all about . . . for yes, being retired, I do have the time to travel up to Flushing Meadows, Queens, to watch a couple of matches at this premier American tennis event.