A good friend of mine recently mentioned in a very off hand way that she thought I was a little on the anal side. I was aghast. I’m would be the opposite of anal. Anal people have their lives in ORDER! Anal people are not up until 4am trying to get a 14 year old printer to print out addresses on their Christmas Cards. An anal person would have realized that it would have taken less time to teach the cat to write and then have her address the cards.
No, no, I’m not anal. But I kind of wish I were, just a little.
Anal people can get places ON TIME. Not to mention CLEAN and TIDY. Or at least some relative version of clean and tidy. I am one of those people who always look disheveled and like they are running late. Usually because I am.
I did decide, though, that with the advent of the $700 Pony, that it was time for a fresh start. You know, one of those, “Today is the first day of your life” kind of deals. I could present myself a little better at the barn, tidy up a bit, plan better to be sure to be on time. Blah, blah. So I bought myself one of those charming little Ariat vest. Hey, you’ve got to start somewhere, and “A” for Ariat seemed like a fine place.
Having purchased said charming Ariat vest, it was time to bite the proverbial billet and scheduled a lesson with my trainer/therapist. People were beginning to ask me if the $700 Pony was some weird delusion that I had made up in order to get invited to the barn Christmas party.
I scheduled a lesson for a week away at 10am. And, with my new resolution of being the new improved pulled together me, I put together a plan for the new improved pulled together $700 Pony. I mean, I really like the $700 Pony, but the truth is, she looks a lot like a $700 Pony. She needed at least two parts elbow grease and 1 part Cowboy Magic to get her looking more like a, say $750 Pony. So plan as follows: (a) trace clip her (b) pull her mane © wash her tail and (d) clean my tack.
It goes without saying that none of this happened. I have two tiny children. For those of you who do not have experience with human children, imagine that you have four female dogs who have all whelped at the same time. Each bearing twelve puppies. The bitches have rejected the puppies and you have to hand feed each of the 48 puppies. And you have lost both of your hands in a combine accident and can’t afford prosthetics. This is a close approximation of life with two tiny children.
I gave up on the trace clip when it took me four weeks to get a blanket that fit. I FINALLY got the wight wug two days before my lesson. But, since the $700 Pony faints dead away every time I approach her with the clipper, I decided discretion was the better part of surviving to collect social security and left her fuzzy.
She also fainted every time I tried to pull her mane. So I pulled a little bit every day. I figured a couple of hairs here and a couple of hairs there every day and before you knew it, she would have a tidy pulled mane. And probably by Easter, she will. Okay, so her mane looks a little shaggy, not the end of the world.
As for washing her tail, well, given her reaction to clippers, I decided that fighting the great water battle in the dead of winter might not be such a great idea. A little Cowboy Magic and a brush, a quick bang (which is not exactly the same thing as the ‘quick bang’ that would do my poor husband a world of good right now) and her tail looked pretty spiffy.
So now we are down to the things you can accomplish the night before: clean pony and clean tack. Feeling that hefty burden that all mother’s shoulder (that would be “guilt,” people), I decided that my 48 orphan puppy equivalents needed more attention than the $700 Pony, so I skipped the barn the night before and added an extra hour on the morning side for Pony Prep.
Are you ready for some higher math?
Lesson is at 10:00am. Add 1 hour for cleaning Pony and tack + 1 hour trailering + Â½ ‘bonus’ hour because I am a moron and cannot possibly stick to a time schedule. I decided that I needed to leave the house at 8:30. That would be am, not pm. Anybody out there scratching their head?
Yeah, so here’s what happens. 8:30am comes and goes as I am patting babies on the head, trying to locate a missing file for my husband and shouting out last minute instructions to my mother in the proper care and feeding of tiny children. She raised me so clearly she has no idea what she is doing.
I finally hop in the truck around, say 5 minutes to 9, thinking “Good thing for that bonus Â½ hour!” I go into abrupt cardiac infarction when I see that the clock in the truck reads FIVE MINUTES TO TEN!! Where’s the fruitbat!!?? I resume normal pulse and respiration when I realize that I never bothered to change the clock in the truck for daylight savings time. And then return to previous state of cardiac infarction when I realize that I have screwed up big time.
There will be no clean tack, no clean $700 Pony and it is possible there will be no lesson.
With one eye pasted to the rearview mirror, I scream to the barn. Officer McGinley and I had a business meeting a couple of years ago. His business, alas, which would be dealing with miscreants, not mine.
Specifically, it was 6am and I was 5 minutes into my hour and 15 minute commute to work and I had had no sleep the prior night since child #1 was not at that point sleeping through the night. Officer McGinley pointed out to me, the picture of legal politeness, that he had clocked me doing 61 in a 40mph zone.
I, the picture of blithe foolishness replied, “Well, could be worse! I was only in fourth gear and about to shift up when I saw your lights!” After that episode, my husband and I decided it might be safer if I stayed at home with the children.
Arriving at the barn and thanking the higher power that the Fancy Schmancy Facility people had read my note and left the $700 Pony inside, I broke all landspeed records for hitching up the trailer and fled down the aisle toward the $700 Pony.
Luckily, the $700 Pony took pity on me and got right on the trailer. The list of stuff you need to take with you for a lesson is actually tattooed on my palm (so I forgot a girth ONCE, um, and a bridle, well, maybe twice, oh and there was that one time I left my saddle back at the barn. Well, it’s not like I drown kittens, for crying out loud!) so I did head out the driveway with hat, bat, gloves, saddle, girth, and bridle as well as the Pony.
So there I am now flying down the road and I reach for my cell phone to let trainer/therapist know I am on my way, which, by the way, is technically illegal in the state of NJ, and luckily for me, (whew!), my cell phone is on low battery. Ah, well probably not a good day to stop at the Verizon store to get that car charger I have been talking about buying for the past decade. Could probably get the handless thing, there, too, but who the heck has time for that kind of stuff?
So what is the damage? Well the 1 hour I blocked out for trailering is really too much. It is less than a Â½ hour driving in my car, so figure 40 minutes, tops with the trailer. And it is only 9:33 and it is only a Â½ hour lesson and my trainer/therapist doesn’t have another lesson until 11:00. So it’s going to be fine. I’m going to be a little late, and the $700 Pony is going to look like a $700 Pony and I am going to look exactly like I usually do, except with a charming little Ariat vest on, so what the heck. All is well.
But pride cometh before a fall, does it not? Because as I am trucking along, I realize I am making better time that I thought. So much better in fact, that I am beginning to believe that I will pull into the driveway REALLY CLOSE to 10:00am. So it will be like I am not late at all, mostly. And maybe with the charming vest on, I can pull it off!
But you know that is not the case. And you are not going to believe what I did next, because I can barely believe it myself. But believe it. It really, truly happened this way.
And to clarify, I have lived in this general vicinity for YEARS. I have driven these roads for the past decade and a half. But let us not forget that I cannot add 1 hour + 1 hour + Â½ hour properly.
So there I am at the stop light, ready to make the turn onto Route 78, counting the seconds as they tick off on my truck clock, thinking, “Maybe, maybe, I will not be TOO late…” when I accidentally turn into the Wal-Mart parking lot.
Well, shoot! you say. How in the heck could anyone mistake a WAL-MART PARKING LOT FOR A MAJOR NEW JERSEY STATE THOROUGHFARE???
Well, no matter HOW it happened. It happened. And there I am, in the Wal-Mart parking lot. With my rig. And here’s the kicker, folks. THE WEEK BEFORE CHRISTMAS!! Bad time to get caught in the Wal-Mart parking lot. It was a bit like an Escher sketch. You could get in, BUT THERE WAS NO WAY OUT!
I went left ”" there was a monster Hummer blocking my way. I went right, there were a flock of mini-vans disgorging their human cargo. I feint, I jab, I punch and I am stuck in the Wal-Mart parking lot.
It was with an air of desperation and that I finally gave up on the seemingly simple task of turning my rig around in the Wal-Mart parking lot to duck out down a small side road with the ominous sign “Dead End.” Why would anyone do this, you ask? Because in my rose colored glasses world, I am thinking dead end = cul-de-sac = nice turn around area.
Okay, raise your hands, anyone who actually passed Geometry in High School. Remember all those bloody logic theroms? Well here is a new one for you: while all cul-de-sacs are all dead ends, NOT ALL DEAD ENDS ARE CUL-DE-SACS!
It has been years since I regularly squired my horse around. Pondering this as the sweat marks formed under my less and less charming Ariat vest, I had a flashback to the 2000 Presidental Election (where the h&*l is THIS going, I can hear some of you wondering), when I hauled my old mare over to the local horse park for a dawn, pre-work gallop. The date rings so clear in my mind because on the way back to the barn, The Princess and I stopped to vote. Well, she didn’t actually vote, not being of voting age, of course, but I did. And then neatly turned the very self same rig I was currently driving around on a dime and handed back $0.06 change! But that was a very long time ago.
And now, at this very moment, I am hauling the $700 Pony down a lonely dead end road, stopping every hundred yards or so to try and turn around. I tried a 43-point turn here, moved on the next relatively wide swath of dead end roadway to try a 37-point turn. Anyone watching would have thought the rig was being driven by an idiot. They would have been right.
Of course, it all worked out in the end. Despite my moronic miscalculation of the Wal-Mart parking lot as a major NJ thoroughfare and an equally village idiot move to leaving the wide open spaces of the parking lot for a dead end road I was eventually able to by sheer force of will turn the rig around and get going in the right direction.
I did get to my trainers barn in time to squeeze in a Â½ lesson. And because she knows me so well, she didn’t even ASK why I was late. Which is good, because telling her I had gotten ‘lost’ would have been more humiliating than being lost. She did, however, mention that she though my new vest was just spiffy.
Anti-climax: The pony had a lovely lesson. For those of you who don’t know me in person (which would be every single one of you, I think) I have been known to take a bit of, shall we say, literary license with the facts. I DO actually ride the pony and it is possible, although not necessarily probable that she will be ready to event this spring.