Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Croquet Blues

Good morning!
What is not to love about croquet? Colorful team indicators, low-impact physical activity, mallets...when I was a kid, my parents managed to have every yard sport set you could buy at Target available to us, and croquet was always one of the most pleasing-to-the-eye. I'm throwing a brunch for a couple friends on Sunday, and as the Tennessee weather has finally, finally, finally backed up from "unbearable" to "temperate", I thought, lawn recreation! This is a great idea!

I call my dad, beaming with self-pride over the nattiness of the whole affair, visions of cucumber watercress sandwiches and mimosas dancing through my head. The following conversation ensues:

1: Pappy, I need your croquet set.
2: The what?
1: The croquet set we used to have when we were little, you still have it right?
2: Croquet set...croquet set.... Yeeeeeah, we still have it-
1: Good, I'm coming over after work.
2: I don't know if I can get to it by then.
1: Where is it?
2: It's in the verrrrry back of the storage barn. It was like one of the first things we put in there. And that was so long ago that there's stuff all the way to the door! We'd have to take everything out and set it in the grass, I guess, and it's a long way back there...How much does a croquet set cost? Twenty bucks? Thirty bucks? Why don't you just run out and buy one and then you can have your own set?
1: The whole point of having saved it all these years is so someone can use it when they want to, right?
2: Yeah! Me! What if I decide to take up croquet in my old age?
1: Uggggh, I already invited people!

In typical Lisa-fashion, the idea had outpaced the execution of said idea by a light year. So I started to look online for croquet sets. The Blanche du Bois quote "Death is expensive, Miss Stella!" comes to mind, except substitute "death" for "croquet", with no less wounded haughtiness implied. I did find a set that was $20 on, but it was (naturally) out of stock. Prices range from around $40 all the way to $300 + dollars (I'm really curious as to how much better a croquet experience one may have on a three HUNDRED dollar set, but I guess I'll have to live with that). What is an impoverish civil servant to do?

Forty dollars? Do I look like Scrooge McDuck! I ain't got no swimming pool full of money from which to draw these funds, you guys!
Oh good! It's on sale!
So sad. So, so sad.

My options are:
  1. Buy the Walmart set (To play probably one time?! I don't think so). Cost: $40 and a slice of pride. Upside: Croquet set acquired. Downside: $40 less to spend on sammies and mimosas.
  2. Convince Pappy to excavate the already owned family set. Cost: $0, but high "all the trouble I'm going to" factor. Possible additional expenditure on sackful of Krystals' to pay back Dad for labor. Upside: No actual money spent on croquet set. Downside: Fighting our way deep in the spider den that is that storage unit; having to put all the stuff back.
  3. Cross fingers, toes, etc that the Craigslist person who has a set listed for $20 calls Matthew. Cost: $20....for the good set plus a carrying case! DEAL! Upside: Croquet set also acquired! Downside: They might not call me back slash may have already sold the daddurn things.
  4. Buy this adorable vintage croquet ball bracelet. Because it distracts me from the issue at hand!
Let's not dwell on the negative though. I mean, I really shouldn't worry about it so heavily-- a croquet set will somehow make itself available between now and Sunday. In the meantime, I need to worry about the actually important stuff, such as what food to serve and what to wear. This article had some helpful (SWANK) menu suggestions. And being into that Victorian through the mid-twenties' era right now, my head is swimming with light colored, lawn clothes. I need some white canvas shoes and I am doing this up, Hamptons style. Here's my party inspiration board:

Oh yes. It's gonna be a blast. That Spaldings Croquet Guide (published in 1910) from as well as a pocket guide (from 1878!!) are available on Internet Archive, here and here. I'll have to read up on my rules so I can remind everyone else of how to play the game on Sunday.

Do you play croquet? Had any neat shindigs or get togethers lately? Any counsel you can give to one throwing a small party outdoors and hoping to not have everything go to hell in a handbasket? Share, share!

I've got more midweek worrying to do-- I'll catch you guys tomorrow!


  1. Shoot...shoot...SHOOT. I know that I saw one in an antique store recently but for the life of me can't remember where! I'm zero help but I vote that you and your Dad excavate the one from the shed. Who the heck knows what's happened back there since it was put in? It's good to keep check on such things and hey, you could then use the family set which would be so cool!

  2. Oh my gosh, what fun. I hope you figure it out, and let us know which option you went for... if it involves shoveling through storage, take pictures! I feel like perhaps I've played croquet once or twice as a kid, but I can't imagine where. Perhaps I'm mistakenly thinking I was in the movie Heathers for a moment. ;)

  3. i was thinking we had a set, but travis says I am thinking of our bocce set. i love croquet! my grandparents had a set and we played it all the time! though I don' think i've every played by the actual rules.

  4. Check out the autobiography "Harpo Speaks". Harpo Marx was a member of the Algonquin Round Table in the 20's, along with Dorothy Parker, Alexander Woolcott,Robert Benchley, etc, etc. Their abiding passion, besides getting blitzed on gin and trading witticisms, was getting blitzed on gin and playing cutthroat croquet. They were SERIOUS about it.

  5. I grew up playing croquet and Paul and I still play although not the past few summers because it has been too hot, even in the evenings! Now that the weather is getting a little more bearable, though, I think it's rapidly approaching croquet time.

    There's a book called Jean Howard's Hollywood that has photographs of tennis- and croquet-playing stars at various garden parties in the 40s. The big croquet players were Darryl F. Zanuck, Howard Hawks, Tyrone Power, Douglas Fairbanks, Jr., Caesar Romero and Joseph Cotten.

  6. The St. John's-Naval Academy annual croquet match is right down the street from my work! I didn't make it this year, but now I'm planning my picnic for next year...



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