Tuesday, February 16, 2016

A Childhood Trauma Stays With You for Life

Me striking a Steve Dancy pose.

Recently I changed my Facebook profile picture to me as a youngster dressed up in my new chaps. The picture reminded me of a traumatic experience inflicted on me by my mother. This same summer, a man knocked on the door offering to take my picture on his pony. Directly behind him stood a real horse. A real horse. I couldn’t believe it. Despite my begging, my mother would have nothing to do with it. I have no recollection of how much he charged, but it couldn’t have been more than a couple dollars. I was crestfallen.

I ran to my room to pout, but then I saw my six-shooter in a holster with enough genuine silver studs to make Roy Rogers jealous. I had an idea. In a jiffy, I was dressed in chaps with my shiny guns hanging from my skinny waist. Running down the block I caught up with the man and his pony. My first sight was crushing. My best friend sat astride the horse looking as proud as Rin Tin Tin at the end of an episode.

Rusty had a horse and a dog!

I learned I was the lone outcast. All of my friends’ moms had popped for a picture. Despite hanging around for five more houses, the man never offered to let me sit on the pony. I was savvy enough to know he wouldn’t waste film on me because of my stingy mother, but I had hoped that if I looked the part he would at least let me sit on the horse for a bit. No such luck. I slunk home completely dejected.

I never forgot the disappointment and humiliation. One night over drinks, I told this horrifying tale to my best friend. At the end, he got up and left the room. I was puzzled about his indifference until he returned with an old photograph. It was a picture my him sitting on a pony with a gun in his hand. Darn. I had expected commiseration ... or possibly a taller tale of childhood trauma. Instead, he rubbed salt in the wound. After all these years, I was devastated once again. 

Look at that pistol. Yet he still got his picture taken.

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