I like to pride myself on being able to read a room based on the vibe. I once asked a barkeep in a dark northeastern Pennsylvania tavern with very few windows if he could turn one of his TVs to a Bengals game. “I’ve never met a Bengals fan before,” he said. I laughed and sat my ass down without comment. I read the room.
There’s no scientific evidence that tells us it’s not in our best interest to make fun of the 4’11”, 102-pound guy with a squeaky voice at the end of the bar who says he rides racehorses for a living. You have to be smart enough to read the room and realize that spider monkey rides on top of 1,100-pound machines and rockets around a track for two minutes at 37 MPH with serious injury or death looming just below his short legs.
Do you think a spider monkey jockey is scared of jumping on your neck and choking you out while your buddies look on in sheer amazement? Read the room. These guys are wired differently.
You want to see an example? Take the case of jockey Ben Curtis and the ride he went on Tuesday at the Wolverhampton racecourse in West Midlands, England. Curtis was thrown from his ride, Fortultous, and was brutally rag-dolled to the point that people thought the worst.
— At The Races (@AtTheRaces) December 8, 2020
Then Curtis stood up and walked off the track. No stretcher. No magic spray from a trainer. Not even a neck brace.
“I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus this morning,” Curtis said Wednesday. “I’m just battered and bruised really, but I’m back home after going to hospital last night. I’m going to be checked over at Jack Berry House today.
“I feel pretty good considering. It was as nasty a fall as you’ll probably see on the all-weather. So for me, Rob and the horses to come back safe and sound is probably a bit of a miracle.
“The horse came out in front of me as I switched out to chase the winner. The medical team were great and had me on oxygen straight away. I’m so grateful to them and for everybody wishing me well.”
Don’t forget to read the room if you’re ever at some bar near Tampa Downs or some other track across this country, and some short guy weighing 98-pounds is at the end of the bar. He could be a Ben Curtis type. You’ve been warned.