I believe I was six years old. There was a party one day, somewhere. A fair of sorts. It’s been a very long time since I was six years old, so you’ll have to forgive me, but I don’t remember the reason for said celebration. You may be shocked to hear this, but I’m thinking a six year old probably doesn’t require a reason to celebrate, so I guess it just never had a chance to sink in for me.
Anyway, I saw there, standing next to a chain link fence was a big horse! I didn’t know why the horse was there, nor did I really care. It’s probable that someone told me I could get up onto this horse, but I don’t recall. I do however, remember the incredible feeling of anticipation at the thought of saddling up!
Together, Horsey and I would ride around the neighborhood, and we’d be pals! I would pet him! I’d ride him to school, and leave him out by the bike rack! I’d run out to the store when my mom needed milk or bread or cigarettes or scratch tickets or to play the daily number*! I’d feed him carrots and apples and donuts! …well, maybe not. The idea of sharing my donuts just seemed wrong. Not because he was a horse, but because they were my donuts, you understand. I’d wear my cowboy hat I got for easter! (My Mot.. er… uh, the Easter Bunny used to leave all my loot in a cowboy hat instead of a basket. That furry rascal had my number for sure! What good was a damn basket to a kid? Sure, it held the candy, but if you simply ate the candy, you had no use for the basket! But a cowboy hat? Pssshh… there is nowhere a little boy wont sport one of those! Hell, I’d wear one today if I could find one big enough.)
Someone (probably mom or dad) lifted me up into the horse. I was thrilled! I’d finally get to pet him!
“Whoa careful young man, hold right here, on the saddle,” the man with the reigns pointed to the knob. What the hell did I want to hold the knob for?? That wasn’t fun! It wasn’t furry, and I wasn’t sure if Horsey even knew of the affection I was projecting at him by holding said knob. If I could pet him, he’d know for sure! How could we be pals if I was just going to sit on this saddle and hold a knob? **
“Okay, look this way,”
“Oh, what now!? Criminey, first they put me on Horsey, and I can’t pet him, and now they’re telling me where to look?! Jeez, can’t they just let me do this myself? I’m plenty big enough to pet this thing without supervision, they never think I… Oh, a picture, I get it.” In my frustration, I tried to manage a smile… *flash*
And thus, they captured the moment that I realized this horse was not for me, and that I wouldn’t be petting, or feeding, or hanging out with him at all. (Click for larger size). Right after the picture, I was hauled out of the saddle. We didn’t even walk a step. The damn thing might as well have just been a high bar stool. My mother said “Wasn’t that fun?” I remember not wanting to make a big deal of my disappointment, and saying “Yeah.”
That moment stuck out in my mind, and just last year, my mother dug up the picture of disappointment, framed it and gave it to me.
And in fairness, I wouldn’t want my kid riding around on a horse, pony, or even a big wheels, knowing how alike she is with the little boy I was in that picture. I tell you what, had that mystery hand on the left moved any further away, and I knew how to make that beast move, there’d have been trouble. Thank god I wasn’t left to my own devices more often…
Now if you’ll excuse me, the house is too quiet… I’m going to check on my daughter.
* – These were things I did in fact run down to the corner store to do for my folks as a kid, even as young as four years old. I remember going down for the sunday papers, and being too little to carry them home without stopping at least three times for a rest, and it was only about two hundred yards away. These were indeed different times.
** – Yes, there were things that were going through my head, I remember that much clearly. What can I say, I was an unusual kid.