As I arrive in Louisville for my 2nd annual reading of AP English Literature exams, I am greeted by a host of familiar faces and a few cherished friends. We are here to score Advanced Placement essays for the next seven days. Working from 8 until 5 among 12,000+ other readers. We will read each essay as if it were crafted by our prized students. We will read in silence, calibrate several times a day to keep our scores even, be periodically back-read by table leaders, who in turn are back-read by section leaders, all the way up the line to the chief reader.
But it’s still Friday and having just arrived there is much to catch up on. Birthdays and special trips, a new pregnancy and all the bumps life brings, so off we four friends go to the Maker’s Mark Bourbon House
. Louisville’s revitalized downtown has many options, but this is Kentucky and even post-Derby, I’m headed to drink my first Mint Julep: Maker’s Mark Bourbon, mint infused simple syrup, splash of club soda, all over ice and garnished with a mint sprig. Need I say, divine!
Eight to five under florescent lighting and in air conditioning, so by Sunday I’m screaming for sunlight and fresh air. Under an auspicious sky I headed for the out-door roof-top pool at the Galt Hotel
, overlooking the Ohio River. The 200 essays I had scored over the past two days melted away when Brandy concocted my “passionfruit daiquiri” with a great rum and crushed ice. For the next two hours I soaked in every last ray and splashed in the pool for as long as I could stave off hunger.
By 5:00 Tuesday my scoring count hit 525 and a crew of us English teachers booked a table at The Mayan Cafe
, known for everything wonderful, including Natasha’s Sparkling Cocktail: prickly pear cactus fruit, Prosecco, kumquat and lime. This pre-dinner drink only improved the vegetarian burrito topped with farm fresh egg and cactus.
Wednesday evening my pregnant roomie craved a real honest-to-god burger, so I gladly accompanied her to Bistro 301
. While she ate I let the 700 essays drift away with my Mango-tini: Finlandia vodka, mango puree and Pama Pomegranate liqueur. Can I say, yum yum delicious!
This back and forth dance continued, from the intensity of focused scoring and calibrating for accuracy, to a bit of frivolity in the evenings. With that in mind, four of us booked a table at the Rivue
, 25 floors high, a table overlooking the sunset glow across the Ohio peering straight into Indiana. Although my friend’s Cosmopolitan ( a house specialty using blood oranges) looked like an tempting ball of sunshine, I stuck with the always crisp Kendall Jackson chardonnay to pair with my Shrimp Aglio over linguine. The night’s outing cleared the 875 essays to make room for our last day of scoring ahead.
By early afternoon on Friday we had collectively scored a million essays; my small part hit the 975 mark. And here my story ends, with a dessert at Doc Crow’s
, Wilber’s Sundae: brown-butter praline ice cream with bourbon caramel ribbon atop cinnamon pork rinds sprinkled with candied bacon topped with a bourbon cherry. Yeah… a crazy close to a crazy week!