Somewhat to my ongoing consternation, my wife Roberta continues to be the proprietor of a horse boarding operation, with me serving as the poorly paid hired hand.
Nothing against horses in general, and I do love animals, but, long story short, being responsible for horses and their care is just not really something I am interested in. They’re fairly labor-intensive, they’re great at breaking things that I have to fix, and their owners often tend to be, well, sort of different. Not bad people — not always, anway — just sort of different.
For example, one of our newish boarders is this young woman named Summer, who’s friendly and pleasant and even has a dog, Sophie, that my dog, Jewel, loves playing with.
But good old Summer nearly left me speechless Saturday evening when I arrived home from the Beaver football debacle, and a visit to Taco Time, and stopped at the barn to get the horses out of their paddocks and into their stalls for the night. She was on hand to clean out the stall of her smallish white horse, Wizard.
“Do the horses always get taken care of so late?” she asked plaintively.
I looked at my watch. It read 6:47.
I wasn’t completely sure how to answer but felt I needed to say something, so I responded eloquently: “So late? It’s not even 7 o’clock.”
“I know, but it’s cold and dark and wet out there and Wizard was standing in the mud.”
Again, words temporarily escaped me until I came up with, “It gets dark around 5 o’clock this time of year, and typically nobody’s even home from work by then.”
Met with an awkward silence, and wondering what precisely she wanted me to do to prevent dirt from turning into mud during the rainy part of the year, I continued:
“Well, this is pretty much the time the horses get fed and brought in for the night, but if that’s a problem for you, why don’t you talk to Roberta, and maybe the two of you can work something out?” Not sure what that would be, I was thinking to myself, but whatever, it’s not my problem.
However, like I said earlier, Summer — though she was talking about her horse as if it were a newborn baby and not a hardy animal — certainly has redeeming qualities, and one of them is that she pays her board fee in cash. Last month the payment included a collection of $20s plus one of my favorite denominations, a $100 bill.
Since I was the one who happened to receive this particular payment, I helped myself to the C-note and left the double-sawbucks for Roberta.
As I have written before, I enjoy, in an admittedly childish way, the somewhat rare chance to carry around a $100 bill for a few days. This one I had for three days before breaking it to buy lunch during a CARDV fundraiser — away from a bank, they are kind of hard to break, so I was happy to let Papa’s Pizza do the honors this time.
But of course I couldn’t part with my friend Benjamin without snapping a photograph for posterity. Here he is: