It's not about the house.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Too Big

I cleaned the rest of the closet, okay? Folded all the goddamn clothes, washed the ones that needed washing, tossed the ones that were irreparably torn or grotty-looking, and made a very small pile to give away. I even made the requisite pile of “save them until I’m skinny and beautiful again” clothes – although that one I pretty much just lifted down off the top shelf intact the way I stacked it up two years ago.

It’s one of those too-small things I want to talk about this morning, as a matter of fact. Because let’s face it, neither of us have the patience for a faux-droll play-by-play on the seven hours I spent folding clothes while running back and forth to the office to check email. I really need to get me one of these new-fangled wirelessy things. Or learn to type a text message so that it takes less than twenty minutes and doesn’t leave me with a twitching palsy of the thumbs. Seriously, for a girl who could type 132 words a minute before the internet was so much as a Hershey bar in the CIA’s back pocket, that thumb shit is like trying to talk with one lip tied behind my back.

Anyway, the pants:

They were my show breeches (no, I didn't make my bed this morning: so?). I only ever wore them once, and I was sixteen when I went off to college and said good-bye to the horse, so that ought to give you some idea of just how long ago it was.

I only wore them once because the horse I had in high school was (like most other things I'd sit astraddle of in the ensuing years) psychologically damaged. He didn’t handle competition very well. Or traffic, for that matter. Loud noises. Cameras. Thunderstorms, sudden movements, dogs, anything blue, children, men, furniture, or running water. Random invisible beasties would leave him white-eyed and tonic, and the one and only time I decided he was being genuinely bratty and broke myself off a twig-crop to convince him to behave, all I did was show it to him and he went belly-out through hell and half of Georgia. Or the Douglas State Forest. One of those. All I know is that when he finally shuddered to a foam-flecked stop I had to give him his head and trust him to take me home, because I didn’t have the foggiest idea where we were.

I’d been in a few small shows before I got him, but that was with a different horse named Tally Ho – whose fuh-fuh name had to have been a joke, because he was retired rodeo, Quarter Horse cross. So with him I’d always ridden western. For those shows I used to wear a red cowboy shirt with black piping, black bolo tie, black jeans, and a black cowboy hat. Oddly enough, I don’t remember anything about the boots, but they were probably black, too, and they probably came from Thom McAnn. All our shoes came from Thom McAnn back then, because they had a very generous return policy. They would exchange anything my mom brought back, even boots that had quite obviously been on the business end of a Quarter Horse cross.

But the spaz – Corrie (full name: Wrongway Corrigan; so called because he’d been a breech birth; the poor old bastard was just fucked right out the gate) – was a Saddlebred. They're a notoriously hot-blooded breed to begin with, but his burner got dialed up a notch at the age of two, when he escaped from his paddock and got hit by a passing truck. He was astoundingly lucky, though (except, you know, for the getting-hit-by-a-truck part): he escaped without a single shotgun-fetching broken bone. Just 150 stitches across his chest, a lifelong fear of everything, and a coat like none I'd ever seen.

See, the cortisone injections he got as part of his recovery gave him a full-body case of raging hives (I'm telling you, this poor creature was cursed.) And when they healed, every one of them left behind a scar-white spot. People always used to ask me if he was an Appaloosa, but come on:

Does that look like a Nez Perce horse to you? (Yes, that's me in the saddle. And no, I don't want to hear word one about that coat. Or hair, for that matter.)

Now, you don’t ride a Saddlebred – not even a spotted one – like a cowboy, you just don’t, so I had to learn a new seat and get new gear. I learned, I switched, I got, and through it all poor Corrie twitched and shook. My instructor got fed up with me because I couldn’t make him trot without extending, but when she got on to show me how, he freaked out and dumped her in the mud. She wouldn’t come back after that, and I gave up any hope of developing show-worthy equitation.

Instead, I discovered a natural knack for soothing him down from a panicked ledge, and – although no-one was using the phrase “horse-whisperer” at the time – I became a sort of go-to girl for calming wild horses. Hauling them out of rivers, getting them to stand still for a bath, untying them from stall walls that they’d managed to pull down. I was able to do these things – and still have the scars to prove it – because Corrie taught me how to put aside my fear at crucial moments, when he needed me to be an apogee of calm.

Still, though, I did have that gear. Those breeches, a pale green ratcatcher, dark green coat, and honest-to-god, from-the-tack-shop, hunter boots. My folks spent so much money on it all, money that we really didn’t have (Corrie cost us nothing because of the PTSD problems, and we boarded him for $25/month). So I decided I would take him to a show.

It was a small one, put on by my local 4-H club, and I actually rode him all the way cross town to it at daybreak, just to avoid having to put him in the trailer. I changed into the show gear when we got there and spent the morning whispering sweet nothings in his ear, just barely convincing him not to bolt. Finally our class was called and we rode into the ring, both of us dark by now with his sweat. I tried to breathe serenity down through myself into his insides while he jigged sideways around all the other horses, but a minute later I gave up, asked them to open the gate, and let him take me straight back home, vowing to never again make another decision regarding Wrongway Corrigan that wasn’t 100% completely about him.

The next summer, when it was clear to everyone that we would never show again, I decided I might’s well use the show breeches for everyday – but by that time they were already too small. So I put them in the back of the closet, figuring maybe I’d be the first girl in the world whose hips actually got smaller as her puberty progressed.

Funnily enough, that’s not what happened, but I’ve kept them with me all these years. On the bottom of the skinny stack in the back of the top shelf of every closet I’ve ever used, even though I know for sure they’ll never fit. I keep them partly as a reminder that I discover things I’m very good at when I allow myself to be led down unexpected roads. And partly to honor poor old Corrie, whose tortured days did not end well after I passed him on.

But mostly, to be honest with you, I keep them to preserve the memory of my dear, departed, tiny, little fourteen-year-old ass.

P.S. I still have the boots, too.

They'll never fit me again, either, but I hang onto them because they’re hot.


Michael aaron said...

Very good read! I really felt for the horse, as I have a dog that is just beyond all reason, scared to death of everything, and we don't know why. I feel like I spend a great deal of energy keeping him calm and happy. Loved the straddle comment too :)

Batgirl said...

I still have mine too!!! But sadly not the boots ...

ege said...

Michael -- Thanks for stopping by! Hug that dog for me!

Batgirl -- We sure had tiny little bottoms, didn't we?

Anonymous said...

I don't know any girls who DON'T have some kind of item of clothing that they keep only so they can look at it in awe and say "Wow, I was skinny back then!"
Unfortunately my items like that are all from post-puberty, so I suspect the only things stopping me from actually fitting into them are my fear of exercise and my love of food and beer. You at least have a good excuse - Puberty! Hips!
(If only I could go back to my 18, heck even my 20 year old self, just to appreciate that tiny little killer bod - at the time I'm pretty sure I thought I was a heifer)

ege said...

Oh, I keep a pair of shorts from when I was 25, too. But yeah, I remember thinking I was a cow even in those breeches -- and they're European size 28, which is the same as our 6.

lili said...

read your blog. I am currently cleaning closet too. My apologies-->
Clothes I still own:
-dad's biker jacket (fits me, but never well because he was a skinny Irish guy and I am not most of those things)
-dad's navy jumper-did this ever really fit him? I have a vivid image of him in his whole navy uniform. He must have been about 45 years old making a test. The uniform was from when he was 18-20 years old. He wanted to prove that he could still fit into his uniform. Well, he could get it on, but...bad analogy, but have you ever witnessed the stage of road kill decay (or dead animals your best friend german shepherd brings home for everyone's enjoyment? Skin busting. Enough said.).
-The dress I wore to Sarah's first wedding. This still fits but I had a bad night that evening and don't want to wear it again.
-Gap jeans that are too small but the sizes ran big so the size number is smaller than I may ever experience again, even if I lose the 10 lbs necc to get back into them.
-Levis that were my brother's when he was a teen. Ditto on the "will I ever fit" but they were Mike's.
-Mike's watch that does not work (Mikey Mouse... collector's item?)
-A sweatshirt that was Mike's in college that has a "keep on truckin" swaying Mikey Mouse with at big HARVAARD above it.
-My grandmother's Member's Only style jacket. I love and loved my grandma.
-Tee shirt's from Ralph's (a club where I went to meet friends when I first turned 21). Ralph's had a really neat tee shirt series in the early 90's. The Halloween one features dancing skeletons and glows in the dark. The Christmas one has raised snowflakes. I wore them minimally because I was sure that I wanted to keep them to remember such a great time in my life. Anyone interested? $2. I'll pay you.
-and pretty much things with stories of people and events I love(d). I had britches too, but Goodwilled them long ago as I never had the body to pull them off.
-Really $2.

HPH said...

In my early 30's I worked for the Nazi Bitch from Hell. Pounds and inches ran away from the sheer stress I was under daily. The 14-yo jeans would have fit a little loosely. Personally, I'd rather be chubby and happy. (But I do still have that leather miniskirt I fit into during 'that time'.)

ege said...

Lili -- Hi! Do me a favor? DON'T tell Johnny about those t-shirts!

HPH -- I'm going through a little adrenaline-related weight loss of my own right now, actually. Maybe the show breeches will fit me yet! Not!