Polo Cookies

August 2002

About midway through the second chukker, one of the tournament organizers gave us each a chocolate chip cookie. He had made 200 the night before, for the players and their families after the match was over. I asked him if this meant there were now 198 cookies, and he said, “No, there has been significant raiding already.”

At about that moment, the action thundered our way. Because a polo field is about the size of nine football fields, the action is not always right in front of you. But when it is, the sound of the horses’ hooves and their breathing, the beauty of their motion, is a special pleasure. I love to watch the horses because they play too; more than rides for people with mallets, polo ponies watch the ball, watch the other horses, and do their best to get to the ball first.

A pony carrying a woman on the blue team was making a beautiful run with the ball, flying along the boards, when suddenly another pony bearing a large man in a red jersey crossed in front of her and was quickly chastised by the referees’ whistles. In polo, it is more than impolite to ride directly in front of another player.

“I can’t believe he did that,” I said, and the man with the cookies said, “Yes, and that’s her father.”

I took solace in the thought that although I have many shortcomings as a father, I have never fouled my daughter in a polo game.

In the end, the blue team won, the tournament ended, and the polo season ended. It was a perfect day with warm sun and a cool breeze, and thin white clouds, “horse tails,” high in the blue sky. Laurie and I walked across the field, hand in hand, thanked our lucky stars for the day’s happiness, and cadged an oatmeal cookie before going home.

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