Before the Slug Race:
Today in Blaine is the 9th International Slug Race. It’s also opening day for the Gardeners’ Market, but really, it’s the slugs. Plus, the slug race is international. International. More than one country. Slug racing.
Actually, the slug race raises a lot of questions. Is a slug race ethically-appropriate? Am I endorsing animal cruelty by attending? Do you need vet clearance to take a slug across country borders? What happens if a slug illegally in the country wins the race? Incarceration or citizenship? Are the racing slugs happy? Maybe I need signs protesting “Slugs have rights too”. What kind of training does this stable of fine racers undergo? Do the slugs receive a share of the winnings? What if they don’t want to race? Are they put out to pasture? Or worse, salted.
After the Slug Race:
With so many questions (concerns?) I thought I should head over early. I wanted to see if there were vets on standby, what the race track was like, all the usual stuff. Oh, and to get a front-row seat.
The organizers were there, and I was ready with my questions. They also let slip they were running an early race for some kids who couldn’t stay for the official event, and I could have an early “viewing.”
It was brother against sister. They each chose a slug, the slugs were placed on the dinner plate track, and it was go. One slug was raring to go. The other was asleep. It was over in moments. The brother won (the sister chose the sleepy slug), and with ice-cream voucher in-hand, they were gone. Race one finished.
Here’s my chance to ask the burning questions. I started with what happens to the slugs after the races. “Oh, we dump them over the edge of the square.” Next, I asked if the slugs get mistaken for each other. She pointed out there are only two, and if I look closer I can see they are different colors. At that point, I realize she probably wouldn’t appreciate me asking about drug testing slugs. Or what training the “stable of racers” has done. Or any of the other important questions, so I went off to explore the abandoned train station.
On my way back I saw the organizers leave… without the slugs.
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