Conversations with a Drunk Horse

Bob

Affable Bob, in more sober times.

Recently, I’ve been handwalking my friend’s horse. We will call him Bob. (It’s not good form to out those with substance abuse problems.) Bob went into a period of stall rest as a very fit thoroughbred. As you can imagine, he has built up some excess energy during this time of recuperation. So to make these walks safe for Bob, safe for me, safe for surrounding inanimate objects, Bob goes into these walks drunk. Or rather, on acepromazine, aka ACE. Every horse reacts a little differently to ACE. Not surprisingly, the affable Bob becomes the 1,100 pound version of that guy we’ve all found ourselves babysitting at one time or another.

He comes out of his stall ready to rock. Head up, steps quick, I have to jog to keep up with his long-legged strides. “Where’s the party at?” Bob says. Adding a gratuitous, “WOOOO!!!!”

I determinedly try to steer him along a flat path. “C’mon, buddy, let’s just walk around in circles over here.” Suddenly, Bob makes a screaming right hand turn. “I WANNA GO OVER THERE!” he shouts. This, however, is better than the occasional screaming left hand turn he makes directly into me. He looks up, eyes bleary, “I totally didn’t realize you were there, man! I love you, dude,” Bob slurs. I give him a pet on the neck and assure him, “no blood, no foul,” and we continue on our weaving way.

Eventually, his pace slows. His head dives down. “Dead leaves!” Bob hollers. “I need to eat these dead leaves!” I haul on his head, trying to get him to lift it, “no, Bob,” I say, “you don’t want to eat those dead leaves, I promise you.” “Okay,” he agrees, once again walking full steam ahead. “A clump of hay! I DEFINITELY want this hay!” I let him stop and eat the three errant stems of hay. “This hay is so good,” Bob says. “This is the best hay I’ve ever had.”

Fifteen minutes in and Bob starts getting tired. “What if I just curled up and went to sleep here on the sidewalk?” he suggests. “You guys could come get me later.” I tell him this is not a good idea. “Let’s get you back home, buddy,” I say. With much manuevering we negotiate a little hill and he finds himself back in his stall. “Oh. I’m here,” Bob says. “Did I eat some dead leaves?” I assure him that no such thing happened, and tuck him into bed. “I could have sworn I ate some dead leaves.” I give him one last pet on the neck and tell him I’ll see him Friday. “It’s going to be awesome!” Bob yells. I agree, it will be awesome.

Slosh Tube

Nick Nolte

Me, at the end of my workout.

I have an indulgence. I don’t go to movies, I don’t go out to eat at fancy places, I don’t buy clothes, I generally spend as little as I possibly can. That said, last year when Evan’s company started to pay our gym membership, I was able to splurge on a most glorious bit of luxury. His name is Brian Dykstra.

When I first met Brian I was scared of him, as is everyone with some sense. He is tall and big and Danish-looking and would not be out of place at a cage match. He is also all guy. When I signed up to train with him I said, “do you want to take some metrics?” Brian said, “what do you mean?” I said, “well, you know, measurements and stuff?” Brian put his hands up in the air and said, “yeah, you can have your husband do that, if you want.” Over time I discovered that even though Brian looks like he could break your neck, he’s actually a really nice guy.

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a story on this blog about meeting Peter Exline. Within that story I mentioned my “lifelong propensity to say cheeky, off-the-cuff comments” that got me into trouble. Whilst writing that sentence, I internally complimented myself. “You have gotten so much better about that!” I said to myself.

The very next day I had a training session with Brian. It was the usual full thirty minutes. I’d certainly sweated plenty, had my heart rate up the entire time. And yet, for some reason, this happened.

Me: Are you putting the weights away?

Brian: Yeah.

Me: No! I don’t even feel like I’m dying yet! I am seriously disappointed in this workout!

Brian turned to me. I suddenly remembered this guy could totally be a cage fighter. He said, in a voice from an 80’s action flick, “then you’re not finished yet.”

Confused by what just happened, my mind hit rewind, then play. There I was, saying the words, “I am seriously disappointed in this workout!” Why did I say that? Because it was true? No, not because it was true, but because I thought it would be a funny thing to say. I rewound the tape farther, to the day prior. “You’ve gotten so much better about making cheeky, off-the-cuff comments!” I’d said to myself. Back in the present I wondered, why? Why can’t you just shut up? You’re not funny! You’re not! WHEN WILL YOU LEARN?

I nervously started hopping around, wondering what was about to happen to me. I followed Brian downstairs, taking four strides for every one of his. “Ha ha! Are you going to punish me? Ha ha!” I kept asking. Brian didn’t say a word. He only nodded.

Slosh Pipe

I wonder what she said to her trainer?

That’s when he got out the slosh tube. Slosh tube, you say, that’s a funny sounding thing. How can anything called a slosh tube be bad? Let me describe a slosh tube for you. It is a pvc pipe longer than I am tall. It is about six inches in diameter. It is filled with water. When it is placed across your shoulders the water sloshes left then right and back again. It weighs 45 lbs.

We went over to the bleachers. These are not normal bleachers. They are bleachers made for giant people. The first step is almost hip high to me. Granted, I am 5’1″. So maybe not bleachers for giant people. Maybe just bleachers for normal people. Regardless, to me, they are tall. Brian took a seat on the top step and intoned, “25 step ups, left leg leading.” It went pretty well at first. And then it got hard. And then harder. And then really hard. And I really, really wanted to stop. After my first 25 Brian had me run laps. Then the second 25, right leg leading.

Right around my 45th slosh tube step up two things happened. Firstly, my appearance morphed from your typical workout look to something in the vicinity of a Nick Nolte mugshot. Secondly, I had this thought: Is my heart going to explode?

While I promised Brian I would never again call one of his workouts “seriously disppointing,” I’d be lying if I said doing the 50 slosh tube step ups wasn’t kind of awesome. Sure, it’s not something I’d like to do everyday, but it for my entertainment dollar it beats buying clothes and going out to the movies any day of the week.

Peter and Pookie

Koreatown Denny's

The very doors that New Guy turned his back on. On another note, a nice looking Denny's, no?

This is a tale of murder and mayhem, violence and vendettas. I don’t usually find these things funny, but when a principle participant’s name is Pookie, things change. When Peter Exline is involved, all bets are off.

After many months of bowling at Pico One, Peter called an audible and we switched locales to a bowling alley in Koreatown. Now, I don’t want to cast aspersions upon Koreatown. I haven’t lived in L.A. since 2003 and things change. Suffice it to say, at the time of this story Koreatown was generally kinda okay-ish with a heavy spice of occasional crazy. Like a Subway sandwich carrying a stray jalapeno. On this night we would run into that stray jalapeno, and her name was Pookie.

The evening began with a merry round of bowling. A regular had brought along a friend. New Guy was charming, funny, tall. Taller even than Peter. New Guy was a star. After the bowling we decided to walk a few blocks to a Denny’s. It was late. Midnight-ish, maybe after. It was an unusually large group of us, at least ten bowlers. We pushed together several tables and New Guy sat at the head of the table, his back to the front door. Peter and I sat facing the kitchen, a vantage point that gave us front row seats to the drama that would later unfold.

New Guy continued to delight and entertain the masses from his vantage point at the head of the table, and we were all having a good time. The restaurant was crowded, loud. Somehow, through the ruckus, we all simultaneously sensed a disturbance in the force. We craned our necks to find the source. There, seated at a small booth, were two young black women. Maybe early 20’s. One of them, the one named Pookie, had become enraged at her Korean waitress. We knew her name was Pookie because of her cousin’s neverending monologue. It went something like this: “POOKIE, NO! NO, POOKIE! POOKIE! POOKIE, STOP! STOP, POOKIE! POOKIE!” We knew she was Pookie’s cousin because she would occasionally address the crowd with the announcement, “I’M POOKIE’S COUSIN!”

Unfortunately, Pookie’s cousin and her emphatic use of Pookie’s name were not enough to stem the tide of rage that overfloweth from Pookie. She attacked the Korean Waitress. Korean Waitress, a surprise ninja, sprinted away. Pookie followed, swinging.

New Guy, the only one with his back to the action, suavely commented, “if anbody sees a gun, please let me know so I can duck.” We all laughed. Through the chaos, Peter found the salient point. He turned to me and said, “is New Guy funnier than me? I don’t know if I want him in the group if he’s funnier than me.” I, too, had my priorities in the right place. “I am concerned as well,” I told Peter. “This New Guy is disturbingly funny.” There was a strict comic heirarchy to our bowling group, and proper form was to be observed.  

Meanwhile, Korean Waitress who turned out to be a surprise ninja managed to give Pookie the slip one more time. Then, in a move worthy of vintage Richard Dean Anderson, Korean Waitress vaulted the kitchen counter. Her lithe body perfectly swinging high up into the air, through the narrow channel, and into the safety of the kitchen. Pookie had been defeated, but she was slow to realize this. Pookie’s cousin, however, knew it was time to get. “POOKIE! COME ON, POOKIE! WE GOTTA GO, POOKIE! POOKIE! POOKIE! COME ON, POOKIE!” Reluctantly, Pookie allowed herself to be drug away by her cousin.

MacGyver

Pookie's Korean Waitress.

The restaurant breathed a sigh of relief and life continued on as though nothing had happened. Only Peter, his instincts forever sharpened by Vietnam, knew the truth. “This isn’t over,” said Peter. And he was right.

About ten minutes later Pookie’s cousin burst through the Denny’s double doors. She addressed us all. “POOKIE’S BROTHER DIED TONIGHT! HE GOT SHOT! SO DON’T YOU JUDGE POOKIE! POOKIE’S BROTHER DIED TONIGHT! YOU DON’T KNOW POOKIE! YOU DON’T KNOW NOTHING!” It went on at length. New Guy, his back to the front door and Pookie’s cousin’s soliloquy, wrly reminded us, “the gun thing? Yeah. Just sayin’.” We assured him we would let him know if he needed to duck.

Eventually, Pookie’s cousin left and we continued on with our dinner. We never saw Pookie or the New Guy again, which was just as well. Pookie was crazy and New Guy was awfully funny.

Yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, your opinion, man

A most exciting event has occurred in the young life of this blog.

See it here, under Leblogski, or go directly here.

It has come to light that not all of my friends are Achievers. While I find this dismaying, I feel I should offer some crib notes to those who haven’t been following along at home.

1.) Peter Exline, friend of the Coen Brothers, told them some stories about his real life. Primarily involving a rug that tied the room together as well as a failed attempt at interrogating a middle schooler suspected of stealing Peter’s car. Also, quotes about ‘Nam.

2.) The Coen Brothers took Peter’s stories, and after conflating them with the personality of John Milius and adding real life Jeff “The Dude” Dowd, they created an amalgamation now known as The Big Lebowski.

3.) Will Russell and other Founding Dudes took the newly formed cult classic and created LebowskiFest, a roving convention celebrating all things Lebowski.

4.) I brought Peter to their attention.

5.) I was thereby included, however minorly, in the Founding Dudes book, I’m a Lebowski, You’re a Lebowski.

This is what my long story was about. A story that April W, a commenter on Leblogski, calls, “priceless.” While those who are not Acheivers may say to her, yeah, well, you know, that’s just like, your opinion, man, those of us who are will simply say, far out.

Some Notes on the Olympics

Johnny Weir

The understated elegance that is Johnny Weir.

Until Johnny Weir shows up (hopefully with feathers!) this Olympics does not have much to offer me. This doesn’t mean I haven’t been watching. I have. But with a certain emotional detachment. A certain ennui, if you will. This doesn’t mean I don’t have comments to make. I do.

If I may begin with the adorable figure skating pair from China. Zhao and Shen’s epic tale of hard work, loyalty, and passion for their sport reminds us that these traits are universally lauded, that no one country can claim jurisdiction over integrity and love. These beautiful qualities belong to us all. Which sucks. Remember when Katarina Witt chilled us to our very bones with her dark East German beauty? When she went toe to toe with our little Americans, scrappy, tough, running on instinct and heart alone. Not privy to the Communist war machine of an athletics program that East Germany boasted, they were instant underdogs. And sure, maybe the word on the street was that Rosalynn Sumners was a brat (that piece of 1984 gossip delivered hot and fresh from the Auburn, WA rumor mill) and yeah, that Debi Thomas was a punk, and, yes, in later interviews Katarina Witt did come off as a delightful human being, BUT – the point is – SHE WAS THE BAD GUY AND YOU WERE SUPPOSED TO ROOT AGAINST HER!*

Katarina Witt

Watch out Poland. She's coming for you.

My further point is this – the Olympics were more fun carved into Cold War blocs. Our Americans weren’t just trying to complete a triple toe loop, they were completing a triple toe loop FOR FREEDOM. These days, it feels like they’re doing a triple toe loop for the sake of a triple toe loop. Which is fine, I guess. But I’m not going to get all cappy about it. Meanwhile, NBC programming is forcing me to get all mushy over a couple of Red Chinese exemplifying all that is best in both humanity and sport. At least they beat the Russians.

In other American Olympics news, what in the H. E. double hockey sticks (See what I did there? Hockey sticks? Winter Olympics?) are our snowboard cross riders wearing? JEANS? REALLY? FREAKING BLUE JEANS? Each with identical patterns of faux holes and faux wear and tear? Now THIS makes me get all CAPPY. Note that every other nation has the decency to put their snowboarders in that, you know, snow time material. (Whatever. I live in the South. I don’t know what it’s called.) Snow time material  (which our mogul snowboarders wear) has the decency of offering color saturation and professional sheen. Is that so much to ask for at the Olympics? We Americans might like to think of ourselves as scrappy, but must we be so literal about it? Oh America, it is moments like this that make me think you’ve jumped the shark.

Snowboarder

Keep it classy, America.

At least there’s still Weir to come.

*Just because you were supposed to root against Katarina Witt did not mean that I did. In one of my many clashes with Mrs. Stanley, First Grade Teacher, she shared with the class a newspaper clipping of Rosalynn Sumners. I had heard that Rosalynn had been mean to a friend of my sister’s, and so I did not like her. Not at all. Mrs. Stanley informed us we should root for her because she was the hometown girl. This, to me, felt like propaganda. Not only was I being told how to think, I didn’t agree with the message. I raised my hand and told Mrs. Stanley I would not be rooting for Rosalynn Sumners in her epic showdown on ice with the East German juggernaut. Judging by Mrs. Stanley’s reaction to this news it’s possible she reported me to the CIA as a likely participant in UnAmerican Activities.