Thursday, May 14, 2009

Shorts Stories

I hardly ever wear shorts.

They aren't practical on the farm or welcome at the office, and considering that I have no life beyond those two places, I can safely state that my shorts-wearing time is limited almost exclusively to whitewater rafting expeditions and workouts.

Well. I've discovered a new use for those scraps of navy nylon: Campaigning.

Fresh from yesterday's physical therapy session, still clad in athletic gear, I set out to run a few errands about town. It didn't take long for me to notice the less-than-subtle commentary that rippled in my wake:

"Look at her leg," said the old biddy in the feed store's poultry aisle. Her companion shushed her while I smiled sweetly and stacked scratch grains on my cart.

"That looks like it hurt," whispered the cashier to her co-worker.

"Oh, my god," said a teenaged girl in the parking lot. "Is that a bruise?"

Ahh, the perfect opening line. The girl was the first of many to direct it at me. She was followed by the cowboy with the silver Chevy, the cyclist in line at the post office, the natural foods stocker at the grocery, the guy on the sales floor at Play it Again Sports, and several more.

One after another, they asked, "Is that a bruise?"

One after another, they winced when I said, "Pretty much. Torn hamstring."

One after another, each of them took the bait. "What'd you do?"

And one time after another, I set the hook. "My horse was attacked by a loose dog, and I fell off."

Their reactions ranged from amusement to curiosity to indignation. A few jumped straight to storytelling or advice-giving mode. All wanted to hear more of the story. At some point during every conversation, I made sure to comment that if I'd fallen on pavement instead of dirt, I might have died. Yep, those loose dogs are dangerous. Surely do appreciate owners who pen them up.

The message, of course, was the same one I wrote to you two days after my wreck: If you cannot train your dog to stay on your property no matter what, find a way to confine it. Period. Because if you don't, someone could get killed.

Sadly, humans are less capable of picking up subtle messages than are our equine friends. (Sorry, did I say "subtle?" I meant "glaringly obvious.") As the strangers walked off, shaking their heads in rueful dismissal, I began to wonder if I was getting through.

Oddly enough, it was Mr. Pick-up Line who made my efforts pay off. Eying my tank top as he rang up my kale and flax seed, he asked, "You on your way to work out?"


"Mm. 'Cause whatever you're doing, it's working out."

Right. Clever. I thanked him politely and punched in my PIN. It wasn't until I was walking away that he glimpsed my leg.

"What'd you do?" he called after me.

"Tried riding my horse past a loose dog," I said. "But it didn't work out."

And it happened. The next woman in line dug her elbow into her husband's ribs and chided, "See? You'd better chain up that damn dog before we get sued!"

Mission accomplished.


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Lori Skoog said...

A great short story!

Tamara of In the Night Farm said...

:) Thanks, Lori. Like your new avatar, BTW!

Mrs Mom said...

Hot Dayum. you GO girl ;) Use the gams (get-away-sticks, etc) to make a point. Sounds like that last lady got it quite WELL! ;)

ellescee said...

Oh, gawd. I love pick up lines. My favorite is always, "Don't I know you from somewhere?" I usually look them up and down with a straight face and say, "No."

I'm glad you got through to someone, though!

You going to make an appearance at Fandango? Maybe I'll actually finish a ride that weekend!


Endurance Granny said...

The quickest way to get a less than responsible person's attention it to hit them where it matters. Their pocket book. If you have bills for this injury I'd be heading straight to small claims (not because you want the money), and I would get this guy's attention and that dog attended to once and for all.

I can't ride country roads out here at all because NOBODY confines their dogs (except me of course).



Mena said...

Awesome! I am glad you got through to at least one person in your morning of campaigning.

You are a prodigious writer. Even when telling of the most simple subject or just delineating your day, you make it sound fantastic.

Merri said...

I've noticed more than a few dog people friends of mine (not all of them of course) will frown on loose dogs... while their dog is running loose. As in, "My dog is like my kid so it's OK, but those people should confine their dog!"
It's amusing, cute... until someone gets hurt...

Anonymous said...

Love it! Great advocacy on behalf of horses and riders everywhere, and have great respect for your deliberately choosing to put yourself *sigh* on display, so to speak, as a poster child of "What did, and What if". When you're exhausted, hurting, tired of being hurt, that takes a lot of energy, and no small amount of courage.

Thanks on our behalf!