I had a good conversation the other day about the beauty of randomness. The art of chaos and how our lives are shaped by insignificant details. All the major things that we plan really have very little bearing on what actually happens. For me it has been cross connections and memories. I was talking with my mother about a vacation we took when I was probably 10 to 12 years old. Through that conversation I was able to pinpoint a chain of events that would be responsible for the life I currently live.
Growing up we always rode horses. I am not a rider deep down in my soul like other horse riders but I was legally a minor and forced to join the family on trail rides. There were a number of reasons that I was less than excited about outdoor activities. Let’s do a quick rundown.
- I had a one eyed horse named Lightning whose fastest speed was an aggressive walk.
2. I am allergic to horse dander and generally averse to bodily injury.
3. A giant horse named Red stepped on my foot when I was six years old.
4. I busted my bottom lip on a three wheeler when I was four or five because of a carefree daredevil who thought riding a small child around through a grassy field would be fun. I still remember looking in the mirror and seeing blood gushing out and the imprint of HONDA backwards on my chin. Not the entire word because I was a small child but there were definite parts.
So basically the thought of running through woods on an oversized special-needs horse made me nervous. It was a summary of everything bad that had happened to me in life up to that point. Sometimes we stepped in yellow jacket nests and you know how I feel about bees so the picture of my nightmare is complete. (Yellow jackets are small ground nesting wasps that swarm out of holes and ruin picnics.)
One day my mother tells us that we are going on vacation. Yay! To a week long trail riding camp. Oh… The general plan was to camp in the sleeper part of the horse trailer. Wake up. Ride horses all day long. ALL. DAY. LONG. Then crash in an exhausted heap only to wake up at the ass-crack of dawn to do it again. Boy oh boy. Sign me up.
The week arrives and the first day is exactly what I thought. Near death experiences and saddle-sore ass cheeks. The area was beautiful and we saw some really cool things but seriously, near death experiences. The trail went along the side of a cliff and surprise surprise, my horse’s bad eye was on the side that he needed to be aware of the face of a cliff. Did I mention that he bumped a dead tree and it fell, scaring him into a mad dash across the side of the mountain? That happened. Then at the bottom of the ravine our lead horse stepped in a yellow jacket nest and everyone ran for their lives. I remember the big guy taking off his shirt and talking about getting stung in his “love handles”. I laughed but I wouldn’t comprehend the phrase for a few more years. The day came to a close and I remember thinking how excited I was for six more days just like this one.
The next day I left our campsite early and went to the mess hall for breakfast. I must have been annoying my parents because they let me go by myself and they didn’t join until later. I decided to make some friends and systematically moved from table to table talking to everyone who would listen. Legend has it that I made friends with the entire camp by 9:30 am. (I used to be so outgoing and full of life. *sigh*) Anyway. I made friends with the trail leader (who looked like Burt Reynolds) and was invited to ride at the front of the group with him which to a preteen was some prestigious shit. Top-o-the-world kind of importance. I got much more excited about the riding but the nights were still boring. The only thing going was a lame-ass dance hall. I wouldn’t have gone but after dark in a horse camp there isn’t a lot of option for entertainment.
I walked into the barn where the dances were held and found a seat out of the way of the action. I realized really quickly that cute girls liked to dance and that learning an easy one would be a good way to meet a few. The group of hotties I selected were probably sixteen and thought that a little ten year old kid with buck teeth and cowboy boots was adorable. They taught me a dance called “The Rebel Stomp” and I had lots of fun. The rest of the week flew by with all the dancing and socializing.
For the next eight years I had zero encounters with country line dancing. My interactions with horses dwindled as well. By the time I went to college I would venture to say that my country-ness was at an all-time low. I had the whole Slim-Shady bleach blonde shaved head thing going on. One night someone mentioned going to college-night at the Cotton-Eyed Joe. Yee Haw. My friends and I sat on the sidelines watching the cowboy-clad people hopping around to country classics such as “She Thinks My Tractors Sexy”. Riveting stuff. We were about to leave when I heard the DJ announce that the upcoming dance would be the Rebel Stomp. I had a trace memory of what to do and we had smuggled a flask of vodka so I figured what the hell. One dance before we leave.
I remembered how much fun it could be and more importantly, that girls love to line dance. Our group became regulars at the Cotton Eyed Joe and the rest is history. I should probably do an entire story on the Cotton Eyed Joe, it deserves a book unto itself. For those unfamiliar with some of the history, that story is here.
If you enjoy a good story about Serendipity then this post is for you. You’re welcome.
-Underdaddy to the rescue.