Saturday, March 6, 2010


Look at what you could have had. And maybe, look at what you could have won.

The above has nothing to do with this post. I was just reading it over on The Tomkins Times and liked it, so I thought I'd share.

I was going to do another Character Month thing, but I'm afraid my creative energy is sapped at the moment. Have a really nasty cold coming on and every part of my head feels swollen and just blecht. Kind of hoping it turns out like the one I got in October that had me laid up for a week. A week of staying home eating good food and watching various adaptations of Holmes sounds like a good plan to me. So instead, I invite you back to the mid-to-late 1990s -- a time of bad fashions, cheesetastic TV shows, and the brief revival of mambo and swing.

As I've said before, where I live was pretty rural back in the day. Nearby towns were smaller, their surrounding boroughs less built up, and same goes for the township. All of them were larger than my hometown, but smaller. My hometown can't really have been any smaller, cause, well, it's been 3.4 sq mi my whole life. I feel like originally it wasn't even a town and was just some guy's farm, and in the late 1700s he took on sharecroppers or something and it blossomed into a micro-town. Actually I should stop calling it a town. We're a more of a hamlet. But anyway, I know by the time of the Revolution we had a mill (which has since been converted into one of my favorite restaurants), a courthouse (which has been converted into someone's house), and on the family estate here was the mediocrely assembled prison and across the street was the execution grounds...or it might have been the other way around. I can never remember.

So anyway, when I was a kid, there was a lot of open property around the hamlet, and most of the claimed property consisted of farms. We had a really awesome guy who lived behind us who used to raise chickens and grow corn and wheat. One time I went out playing on a Saturday at about noon, why my cartoons had finished, and I got lost on his property until almost sunset. He had decently sizable farm, the fields were all uniform and all looked the same so you could never tell where you'd been, and I was six or seven at the time. Okay, to be fair, I still have zero sense of direction and never know where I'm going. Along the road behind us there were a lot of houses where plenty of my friends lived, another friend lived a little way up the street, and my then-best friend lived at the end of the street. It wasn't until 1997 that they tore down the farm behind us to put in townhouses, 2002 that they expanded the road behind us, forcing my friends families to move, and 2003 or 04 that they replaced a lot of fine open land with two housing developments. Not sure when the other housing development went up...I think 99 or 2000, but I just don't know. I could go into ever more detail about the evolution of my hamlet, but I'll spare you, least this time.

There was one day my friend Chris and I were off playing like we normally did, and he up and decides, hey, why don't we go play in the creek. So we went sprinting off in the direction of the creek, and along the way we passed through one of the many farms that used to litter fill area. I think it's the only private one still standing, but don't quote me on that. Well, I kept on sprinting towards the creek. It was summer! We were kids! Oh hell, the creek's still fun to go splashing around in! Chris, on the other hand, decided to stop on the farm. Now, we'd stopped by a couple of times before. It was run by a sweet old couple who used to give us candy and soda (or hot chocolate in the winter) and let us see their horses, with their supervision. By the time I realized Chris wasn't with me any more, I was standing on the hill which overlooked the creek (rain has since eroded it into a cliff). Wondering what happened to him, I turned around and went running back to the summer camp we attended, which was a very short distance from the creek and a slightly longer distance from home. I thought maybe he'd hopped the fence into the pool, as a whole bunch of us had done before, or maybe he was saying hi to the pony and goats they kept at the camp, like we sometimes did. No sign of him there, so I checked the whole of the woods where we used to play capture the flag, hide n go seek, anything, really. The woods were perfect for any game once you had adequate knowledge of the layout -- things were growing or falling too often to ever gain intimate knowledge for more than a little while.

Well, still no Chris, so at this point, I'm confused. Maybe he's down at the creek and he was just a little slower. Maybe he was messing with me. Maybe something happened. I just kind of hung out in the woods for a while considering, and then went sprinting back in the direction of his house, intending to see if he was there and if not to ask his parents what happened to him. When I came to the old couple's farm, I found Chris. He had somehow managed to climb onto the roof of the stables and was just chilling up there. An easy feat for men of our size now, but we were seven or eight at the time. Anyway, I slipped under the fence to move closer to the stables and yell at him come back down to the creek, when all of a sudden I get nearly plowed over by a horse. For reasons I don't know, these people had one gelding and two mares. Two mares in and of itself is a problem, but I'm sure you can tell the trouble with having two mares and one gelding. Actually being a gelding makes it a bit of a double-problem. Got the women fighting over him and he ain't got no love juices to spread.

Yeah, I froze after that horse nearly plowed into me. It's a damn scary thing at any age, but at seven, I was much smaller than the horse, and I hadn't had any experience with horses yet, I'd only seen my sister and cousin ride them. Other mare comes charging around me and kicks black mare in the arse. Black mare kicks back and comes charging in my direction again. I book it towards the stables. Blue dun mare takes off after black mare. Black mare swerves and is now moving behind me AT A STEADY CANTER. I manage to get to the stables without being killed by stampeding horse, but I've still got the two mares going at it close behind me. (This is precisely why I hate mating season and whenever the barn where I keep my horse gets a new horse. Suddenly there's a scramble for power and the lead mare always asserts her dominance fast, but all the other girls are busy practically trying to murder each other and it's just not a safe place to be; I got pinned down in the corner of a stall once by one of my favorite horses up at the barn because they had bought a new horse and there was a chance for her, who was at that time penultimate in the pecking order, to move on up.) My friend Chris starts yelling for me to come up on the roof, and I can't for the life of me figure out how the hell he got up there. In hindsight, I'm wondering if he didn't go up there because he got caught up in their mare fight, too, but hell if that was on my mind at the time.

I slipped around back and tried running up the wall to get a grip on the low piece of overhang, but my finger slip off and I hit the dirt. The mares are still running around the field continuing their fight, but at least they're running around the other side of the pasture. After several more failed attempts at running up the wall and hoisting myself onto the roof, it occurs to me that the horses are on the other side of the pasture. I yell at Chris for come down. Rather than doing the sensible thing and coming down the back of the stables, Chris lowers himself off the front of the roof and drops onto the ground. He starts to walk around to where I was, when suddenly he's caught up in the little spat now. He managed to break away and we both booked it for the section of fence which faces the woods on the way to camp and the creek. Well, the mares break up their fight and go off to separate ends of the pasture. I was a faster runner than Chris, so I started climbing the fence while he was still closing in. I'm lowering myself over the other side as Chris is about to grab hold of it. And now the mares are fighting again. Chris starts scrambling up the fence as the fight comes our way. I'm screaming at him to come on, and he's still just scrambling. WHAM! Gets smacked by a horse's arse and hits the ground. Nearly gets trampled on by the blue dun mare. I dive down and try to drag him under the fence, but only succeed in freeing his left shoe. The mares continue their little fight all around Chris, nearly stamping on him several times, but fortunately always missing.

Finally the blue dun mare takes off towards the stables looking for food and the black mare goes walking off. Chris hurries over the fence and we book it for my house. Halfway there I realize I'm still carrying his shoe and try to toss it to him, but it ends up smacking him in the face, which is still damn hilarious to think about. When we got to my house we plopped down on the living room floor and just had a good, terrified laugh for a little while, and once our nerves had settled we played some N64.

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