Monday, June 27, 2011

The 1920's and Collegiate Rivalry

Apparently something ginormous and hugely cultural to my hometown had been missing in my sad and bleak life. That something included donning Gatsby-era clothing whilst laying on nicely manicured lawn. That something included bringing a picnic basket full of delicious treat to consume while "watching" a "sport." That something included filling that mentioned picnic basket with only alcohol and drinking at noon [it's okay, everyone else was doing it]. That something included an intense collegiate rivalry held between the two prestigious colleges in my hometown.

If you are not from Annapolis, if you have no idea what St. Johns is and if you have only heard of the Naval Academy because that of that movie "Annapolis" [with the hottie James Franco no less], then your brain is in for a delightful treat as I uncover the secret of intramural croquet.

Once a year the midshipmen [read: the young men and women who attend the Naval Academy. they are called "mids" for short] and the St. John's students in our town gather on the prestigious lawn of St. Johns [read: incredibly well manicured because the school is so stinkin' expensive] to battle using their athletic prowess and accuracy in the gentleman's game of croquet. Generally the mids are dressed in a pristine white outfit that includes a sweater with both the Naval Academy logo and the St. Johns logo. For my first time attending this legendary event they did not let me down.

I thought to myself, "excellent, I will be able to distinguish the two teams without a problem!" False. Generally the "Johnnies" dress in ridiculous outfits. One year they wore togas, another they donned the outfits of painters in bleak, paint spattered coveralls. This year they decided to dress exactly like the mids. It made for a super confusing game.

Perhaps you can catch what their differences are, however. To the common man [ie: not from Annapolis] they look exactly the same. However, you will note that the physique of the gentleman on the right is quite leaner than the gentleman on the left. That is because midshipmen are required to work out all the time. I was able to tell the two groups apart by the ones who had beer bellies, and the ones who looked like they were shoulder pads [actually just impressive muscles under those sweaters].

The Johnnies seem to have an innate keenness for croquet. It is rumored that the week before the big event they traverse over to the retirement home in Annapolis and practice with the retirees. It's true. Who knows croquet better than grandparents? Because of this fair and earned advantage, the Johnnies apparently almost always end up winning.

Not to be left gasping for what the assumed was theirs, the Johnnies outdid themselves again and won. Several thousand picnickers and Gatsby-era folk came out for the event. The lawn was absolutely mobbed. Tailgating tents decked out with delectable goodies took over the far side of the lawn while picnic blankets, oversized hats and swing dancers took up other various parts. Everyone relished in the unusually warm April day and basked in the sun while downing alcoholic beverages left and right.

Some brave soles who preferred to keep their seersucker suits on the non-green-grass stained side dragged large couches out onto the lawn. This entire event was simply a site to behold. I was disappointed that I carried no picnic basket or cluster of grapes with which to join in on the fun. Next year I plan to have my parasol, large hat and chilled bottle of wine all ready to go.

This was just a trial run preparing me for the full immersion in 2012. So if you are in the Annapolis area, perhaps you had better don your seersucker suit and join the throngs as they drink and pay no attention to what is actually happening. Because honestly, do any of us know the rules to croquet?

1 comment:

  1. This was my first year to go too! It was so much fun-- we joined our neighbors and enjoyed the sights and excitement... sad to have missed you though! :-)