Wednesday, November 28, 2007

My Name Is Tomas, But You Can Call Me Smooth

Sometimes I like to pretend that I'm not that girly. Then I am forced back into remembering that my main playtime activity from ages 7-9 was pretending with my friends that we were horses. (Before that we mostly pretended we were pregnant.)

There is nothing more stereotypically girly than the childhood horse obsession. There are My Little Ponies and Black Beauty and National Velvet and the Black Stallion series and on and on. It is not clear which came first: the horse-industrial complex or the fascination of small girls for horses, although given that I grew up in a milieu pretty goddamn devoid of horses, I can only assume it was all those books telling me that I should care about them that started it all. We used to fight over who got to be which color horse. Exactly.

Little girls who have never seen a horse may or may not right now be fighting over who gets to be the palamino ths time. But given that as recently as the early to mid eighties that debate was raging hotly, how come horse racing is dying?

Yes, I went to the track today. Hollywood Park, the seedier of the two local racetracks, is in season, so I took the bus to Inglewood. There's something great about making a significant trek by local bus without transferring. People come and go, making complete trips, and the bus fills, than empties, then fills again, all while you stare out the window. It had been a while since I had taken a bus outside my zone of familiarity, and I found myself getting nervous that I would somehow fail to see the enormous racetrack out the window of the bus and miss my stop. Fortunately, Tomas was there to tell me to get off the bus. This was, it turned out, unnecessary, because the bus driver had already promised to tell me when the stop came up, and because, as I on some level knew, Hollywood Park is pretty hard to miss. But Tomas meant well, and although I declined to call him Smooth ("Say, 'Good afternoon, Smooth'") we parted on good terms.

The track was pretty goddamn desolate. Litter everywhere, sea gulls, dead-eyed small children, and a generally jaundiced view from the racing programme -- of the favorite in one race, they said "There's not a whole lot of speed in the race, and he has a little zip." In other words, it was great. Nobody bothered me; I got asked for my opinion in one race and declined to give it; the horses blew me away.

But it's pretty funny, the gap in horse perception. Either it's pastel colored my little ponies, or it's drinking in the afternoon and cursing furiously as your horse loses.

I had to run to catch the bus back. I got on, and the bus driver said, with a certain amount of disapproval, "You were at that track."


Noko Marie said...

I have a very vivid memory of pretending to be horses while roller skating around my family's basement -- while it was too cold to roller skate outside. It was: So. Fun. And I always liked horses, and still do. And I also think of myself as not that girly.

But the horse craziness is such that I also remember that one of my most certain beliefs about myself was that I was not a horsey girl. Because the girls that were into horses were, like, obsessed, like crazy into horses. There was real horse-madness out there.

That, I don't know how to explain.

Charlie said...

Could you please evaluate the likelihood that Tomas was a P.U.A.?

Captain Colossal said...

N. Marie: You're exactly right, only I thought no-one would believe me if I said it. The truly crazy horse girls were other girls entirely, and you could tell them apart because they played riding horses rather than being horses, and they knew the names of all the various horse parts.

I know the explanation for horse madness is supposed to be semi-sexual, but since, at least in Los Angeles, very few of these girls actually spent any time with horses, that seems not quite right. Completely mysterious, the whole thing.

Charlie: Well, he did isolate me by getting me off the bus but there was no negging and he didn't seem too preoccupied with the IOIs.

The Secretary said...

I am convinced that you purposefully misspelled palomino -- in precisely the manner I did at our city spelling bee in fifth grade -- just to inflict some psychic damage upon me.


Captain Colossal said...

I had totally forgotten about that. Maybe subconscious hostility? I'm sorry.

Noko Marie said...

Oh yeah, you're right - the playing at riding was characteristic of the obsessives. I never thought about that.

There was a girl in my 7th grade class who was obsessed. In CT, where I grew up, horse-obsessed girls had actual horses. I remember she was rumored to have said something like, "If I could marry a horse instead of a guy, I would." Which everyone found hilarious, and which seems, of course, funny now too.

I was going to bring up the famous sexual hypothesis before. It doesn't seem quite right to me either. I did go through a mini-obsessions with reading horror books when I was about 11 or 12, and that is commonly classed also as a semi-sexual thing. It doesn't seem right in that case either.

Anonymous said...

has anybody in this peculiar culture of ours come up with the possibly true observation that sexual obsessions themselves are about, you know, something else? Apollodorus thought that if you dream about sleeping with your mother you are really thinking about how to make a lot of money.

Octopus Grigori said...

paging Dr. Anti Oedipus...