|(photo credit: Library of Congress Prints
and Photographs Division)
I kinda wanna be a cowgirl.* This has been going on for years.
We could chalk up its origins to my feverish chicken pox brain, but
I think there’s more to it than that.
When I was in 1st (2nd?) grade, I got the
chicken pox, and I.Was.Elated.
Seriously. I was blissing like I’d never blissed before. Because: I Had to Stay
Home from School, Preferably in Bed… All Day Long.
And dudes, to this girl, that meant READING.
I could hardly contain myself.
Never mind the itching, I was in the lap of luxury.
I immediately made a plea for books. (There was a brief moment
when I thought: Oh my gosh. What if Mom can’t leave my side to pick up library
books?!?!) But my amazing mom made it happen. A pile-o-books materialized by
the bed. (Truly: a marvel, that lady. Now I’m wondering how she managed that
library run in the midst of chicken pox care. I have the sense that my
babysitter may have been deployed.)
Tizz was a palomino pony who was part of a family that included a
boy named Don and a girl whose name I’ve forgotten but who always had her hair
in the perkiest ponytail (ponytail!)
I’d ever seen.
Yes, it appeared at that young age that I might become one of
those little girls who’s wild about horses. (But instead, I just became one of
those little girls who liked reading about
After the best darn week of my young life (oh, chicken pox, why
must you strike only once
continued my habit of reading darn near everything (even, as previously disclosed, a biography of Barry Manilow
[so you can’t ever say I don’t tell all]), and that mix included a steady
diet of horse books.
During the Nancy Drew years (confession: I’m still in the Nancy
Drew years) I adored The Secret of
Shadow Ranch because Nancy and her chums were all hanging around this old
decrepit ranch and riding horses and solving a highly improbable mystery. And
that’s one darn intoxicating blend.
Then there was A Morgan for
Melinda, which I remember chiefly because there was a horse in it, and also
because Melinda’s family decided to remodel a bathroom rather than take a
vacation. As a child, I simply had to disagree with their logic. I still disagree. I mean, for pete’s sake,
it’s 30 years later and I’m still making the frowny confused face at that
episode. (And guys? Happiness experts would support my argument. They say that
money only buys happiness if you use it for experiences,
rather than things. Take the damn
Then I grew up and thought I was done with the horse books. Then I
ran across Hank and Chloe and Cowboys Are My Weakness.
And I dreamed of
it…. Oh, I dreamed.
But guys? The thing
is: I don’t actually want be an actual cowgirl.
I don’t like the
smell of manure.
I don’t like the smell of hay.
I’m a compulsive
I’m not wild about
the pre-dawn hours.
I’m not too much
into hard physical labor.
And the blood and
guts of ranch life… I’d pass out daily. (Seriously: At age 11, I was at a
friend’s farm when a sheep was giving birth, and I kept dashing out of the barn
back into the house to draw pictures of the Washington Monument to calm my
nerves. [I was already a presidential history geek, and the Washington Monument
was about all my meager artistic skills could render.] Then I’d feel like a
ninny and head back out to the barn. For about 30 seconds. Then flee back to
the house. This went on for some time.)
I Do Not Know How
to Ride a Horse.
I am kind of afraid
of horses. They are surprisingly big when you see one in real life.
And that branding
stuff? Scary. Also: disturbing.
And then there’s that other procedure they do to steers… you know
what I’m talking about, and it ain’t pretty. (Never seen it, and never gonna.)
And then the beef cattle get hauled off to market to be… slaughtered. (The vegetarian quivers.)
*But really, guys? Probably the moral of this story is that I
really wanna be a librarian. In that case, mission accomplished.