PEEPLECHASE

“I saw her today at the reception
  A glass of wine in her hand
  I knew she would meet her connection
  At her feet was her footloose man”
(From You Can’t Always Get What You Want, by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards)

Afoot in the middle of nowhere, a maiden needed a ride to get somewhere. When along came a peasant artisan with his cart and horse. Yes, he was ill-dressed and smelled of booze, but beggars can’t be choosers, you know. 

They talked to lessen the boredom of the plodding pace. They drank some too and the conversation thereby becoming aspirational rather than mere gossip. They told each other their dreams and stories, some lies of omission as well. He never told her his ambition was limited by fear; she never said hers was driven by greed.

He foolishly felt encouraged by her goads and spurs, not being experienced in the ways of the world, and a little drunk. He believed she was urging him to up the pace of achieving his goals, but in fact all she wanted was to be done with him sooner, and closer to her destination. Ignorant of that and full of his dreams and whiskey, he drove faster, dangerously faster.

He wasn’t really watching where they were headed. He didn’t notice that she had guided them off his beat and onto her route. When his horse suddenly stopped, refusing to make the leap required by the fence they found themselves facing, trashing the cart and dumping his goods in the ditch.

And the maiden, for whom this was the plan all along, now uses the inertia of their frantic pace, to leap from the cart, clear the hurdle solo and land just where she wanted to, en pillion au arriviste (sharing a saddle with a newly wealthy entrepreneur) at a point-to-point event where she and her prince will shortly trot off to a VIP tent for some bubbly and caviar

Much later while reminiscing with her new friends, other petty moyenne bourgeoisie (entitled, but not titled rich folk) over cocktails, after tennis, the former maiden justified, “It was the right thing to do, both to hitch a ride from the artisan and to dump him when a better ride came along.” She might know, but we’ll never know if she knows that you can always get what you want, by just making it what you need.

[ . . . ]

I know it’s against convention to imagine the lives of characters of a work of fiction outside of the frame of its structure, breaking the fourth wall, not of space as in a play, but of time. But I do want to tell you that both the artisan and the maiden are living “happily ever after,” but not with each other. Definitely because they are not living with each other.

You may wonder what a point-to-point is. Well, it’s in theory a horse race over hill and dale with a number of fences and ditches to negotiate. But if you attend one you’ll see it as more a vehicle for conspicuous—and invidious—consumption. The real show is not the horses and riders, but the parvenue (social climbers) with all their material goods on display for each other and the folks in the cheap sheets to admire or envy.

About the French words; sometimes I use words in languages I don’t speak, but given the definition of those words they fit better than English semi-equivalents. Some of these words are “official ” borrow words, but some aren’t, so I translated all of them parenthetically so you don’t have to look them up.