A Letter to the County Executive of Dutchess County, New York

The event I described happened in mid-July, and on that day I told the people I was with that I would write the sheriff and the county executive. They laughed. On a different day on that same stretch of road, my young horse spooked at a speeding garbage truck, dumped one of the barn’s professionals on the ground, and took off galloping back to the barn. He stopped and we were able to catch him.
Recent events all across the United States involving police remind me to encourage you, dear readers, to write letters to your local law enforcement and their bosses if you have an opinion about what you see them do. 

Out Hacking
Marcus J. Molinaro
County Executive
County of Dutchess
22 Market Street
Poughkeepsie, NY 12601
Dear Mr. Molinaro:
Thank you for your kind letter welcoming me as a newly registered voter in Dutchess County. I look forward to participating in elections in my new rural community.
Recently, on a July weekday in the mid-afternoon on State Route XX in XXXXXX, I was out riding my horse on the road’s shoulder along with two other younger staff members of the barn where I ride. We were each wearing a helmet and riding a calm, older horse belonging to a private owner. An unmarked police vehicle approached and turned on its brightly colored lights and passed us, at an alarming speed. Because we are all experienced riders, we were able to calm our horses and continue; however, almost immediately the unmarked black police vehicle was joined by a marked Dutchess County Deputy Sheriff’s car, and passed us from the other direction at even greater speed.  Once again, we had to calm our horses and continue, which we did without further incident.
I have mulled over the encounter during the last couple of months and taken the time to confirm for myself that under Article 26 of the New York Vehicle and Traffic Law, Section 1146 a., “Every driver of a vehicle shall approach a horse being ridden or led along a public highway at a reasonable and prudent speed so as to avoid frightening such horse and shall pass the horse at a reasonable distance.”
I believe that the drivers of both police vehicles, though they may have been responding to an emergency, failed to obey this law, endangering the lives of three people and three horses.
Should any staff members of the Dutchess County Sheriff’s office be interested in learning about basic horse safety, the barn where I ride is a British Horse Society Certified facility, with highly educated and experienced instructors who would be able to provide basic lessons in horsemanship. I would think these skills would be useful throughout much of Dutchess County.
Thank you for taking the time to read this.

A Letter to the College I went to

Not a golf course
Dear Middlebury College Office of Alumni Relations:
I am sure golf is a fine game. People seem very frustrated by it, but they do keep playing so there must be something to it.
You know, golf has a white, elitist reputation, but maybe that’s all in my mind, and maybe I’m overreacting. I know for a fact that there are at least two multi-racial men who play golf, because I’ve seen Tiger Woods and Barack Obama doing it on TV.
And so much land is set aside for golf that might otherwise go to egalitarian purposes like playgrounds or forests, so I’m thinking golf must be good for society in some way, even though I haven’t grasped it yet. Probably keeps a lot of club manufacturers making good old-fashioned American profits. And the people who make those wee carts, I bet they make them in Reedsburg, Wisconsin and also maybe Georgia and China, and that some of them also make big trucks and drills and hopefully not machine guns.
I’ve been an ambivalent alum, I admit. I did appreciate my education, And I still do, and I really had a very positive experience there as an undergrad, other than my size 6 light blue high wasted Esprit blue jeans that someone jacked from the laundry room. Still pissed about that. But you know what, I ended up majoring in something much different from what I set out to do which has its very good points and a few bad. I did go on to a couple of advanced degrees, so y’all can take credit for putting me on track for that, anyway.
Middlebury has changed quite a bit since my husband and I went there in the 80s, and we aren’t sure both of us could actually get in today. Our three kids reacted to the prospect of applying to Middlebury with a hearty, “Hell, no.”  Something about your application or acceptance rates threw them off, repulsed them, even. When we went there, you were a small, liberal arts college in Vermont that no one had heard of. There were some seriously undesirable dorms, and we lived in all of them. I promise all the graffiti I wrote was small and in pencil and you’ve probably already torn down those buildings anyway. We had plenty of spoiled rich kid classmates, who drove around campus in their Saabs, a handful of campus parking tickets fluttering from their side mirror, and wore TopSiderswith no socks in winter because they were hardened from skiing in the Ice Bowl. Our friends were artsy and well-rounded and had a decent band and I’m sure the current crop is also artsy and well-rounded and actually pretty academically buxom if you know what I mean by that. Perfect SAT scores and also perfect teeth, that kind of thing.
I admit I probably should do a better job of responding to the pleas for donations to the annual fund, but did I mention those three kids of mine? They picked other, equally expensive private colleges, so you might have to wait a few more years, know what I’m saying? #strapped
But getting back to the golf thing, I have had a love/hate relationship with golfish clothes over the years. The preppy thing happened when I was in high school (yes, I’m that old. How’d you think I got so crotchedy?) so, like, I have a certain fondness for a bright pink polo shirt and pants with tiny cocker spaniels embroidered all over them. And monograms on things. My label! Promoting me! That’s like super golfy, right? But at some point the preppy thing started seeming elitist and very East Coast and we moved out west and wore our jeans even after the knees blew out and found over the years that the flannel shirts outnumbered the oxford shirts. So, wait, what was I talking about?
Oh, right, golf. So I think golf is played by both men and women, which is good. I’ve seen female mannequins at the Nike store and they’re in golf clothes, too.  I probably know some women who golf, but they might not have time for it because like you know they’ve got to work 29% harder than men to make the same salary or something like that.
As for the artificial pesticides and fertilizers used to keep all that grass nice and short and green on the golf course, well, the bees and frogs might have something to complain about, if there were any left. Too bad about that.
So, I’m gonna pass on the invite to the annual Alumni GolfTournament.  It’s important to keep up the Great Traditions. When I went to Midd, there was something called “Paul Newman Day” where people drank a whole case of beer by themselves, 24 beers in 24 hours. I never had enough spending money back then to participate, but I think of it every time I see Paul Newman’s face on salad dressing in the supermarket.
Your Friend,
Hamster Relish, Class of 1985