Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Rocking Horse.

I've always been amazed at how life works out sometimes, just a random brushing of one life against another, and how it sometimes yields the most heartfelt results.

One of the best things I've ever done for anyone was the time of the rocking horse.

I was 17, it was my senior year in high school, and I worked part time at a nursing home. That's where I met Marcy. She was a single mother of two, raising two boys and a husband.

A few days after Thanksgiving, she told me that she'd looked everywhere for a rocking horse for her son, but hadn't been able to find one. That was the one present he wanted, he talked about it daily, that Santa would bring him a rocking horse. Because, dig it, he had been a good boy.

She was stressing about it, freaking out, and she'd looked everywhere for this particular present. She even went as far as to go to a man who did woodwork, but he wanted $400 to custom make the horse. When she got to that part of the story, she trailed off, shrugged, and I could see tears in her eyes. Four hundred dollars made that horse damn near impossible.

But I knew she would have that horse. Because it just so happened that I was taking woodshop in school.

When I told her I could make that rocking horse for her, I can't describe to you how beautiful she looked. That one statement wiped the defeat from her eyes, and with hope shining from them, she became a completely different woman.


November ended, and December rolled around, and I started to think about the rocking horse, to plan out what day I would start my project. I had about two weeks until Christmas vacation. Plenty of time, I thought. I'll start it tomorrow.

The next day a couple of the boys talked me into drinking a beer with them (in the girls bathroom), so that day was a wash. The day after that, I learned how to weld.

The next week I got distracted by something, and the next time I looked at the calendar, it was the day before Christmas vacation. The fucking day before.

It was also the day I felt my first panic attack. How had it gotten so late so fast? How had I just fucked the days away playing grabass and drinking illicit beer in the bathroom?


That day, I skipped every class I had and stayed in the woodshop. I cut pieces of wood, and in my panic, the first rocking horse I made looked shit-terrible. There were nails poking out, and when one of the boys in my woodshop class came over and sat on it, the fucking thing fell apart.

I yelled at him.

Then, I sat there and cried. It was about lunch time, I was starving, so I headed over to the cafeteria (sniffling) in time to see my best friend. I ate lunch with her, telling her about my inability to get the horse made, so she then decided to skip the rest of the day with me, and help me make this rocking horse.

Immediately I felt better. When we walked back into the woodshop building, I saw Ricky (the boy I yelled at) standing in the office. He was grinning at me, and when I told him I was sorry for yelling, he just grinned at me and shrugged.

I took a deep breath, started cutting pieces out again, and by the time I had everything cut out, ready to nail this bitch together, Ricky tapped me on the shoulder. Again, that irritation flared up, and I was ready to take out some of my frustration on him. Until I saw what he had carried over.

It was a rocking horse.

"You just need to paint it," he said, looking down at the floor, "and look," he grinned, sitting on it. "It's tough."


After it was painted, and packed up in my mom's truck, I thought of all the possible ways I could tell Marcy she could come pick it up. I thought of the dramatic, me pretending to be modest, but secretly eating up the attention, I thought of dropping it off at her house, but in the end I called her and told her it would be on the front porch, and that I had somewhere to be.

When she drove up with her husband, I remember peeking through the blinds, wanting to see her unbiased reaction to the gift that Ricky and I had created. When they drove up, she and her husband were standing on my porch, studying the rocking horse, and I thought they were disappointed. Part of me sighed deeply, feeling disappointed, until I saw her hug her husband.

She was crying. Her husband smiled, and said the words that I can still remember. "It's fucking great, isn't it?" She wasn't able to answer, but she nodded her head.

I had to agree with them, wiping my own tears away, it was fucking great.


jerrod said...


you need to write movies.

bluzdude said...


So funny it's a rocking horse... I was once a little kid that wanted a rocking horse, (or "hobby horse", as we called it) for my birthday or something.

I didn't think one was in the cards for me. But then one morning there was a knock at the door. When I opened the door, there was a beautiful hobby horse, shining out in the back yard, secretly placed there by my Grandpa.

Man, I rode that thing all around the place, even though it never left that spot.

Great memories...

Deidra said...

Beautiful post. It's about to make me cry...with happiness, of course.

becca said...


Trish said...

I'm sure that mother thinks about that every time Christmas rolls around.

jules said...

Not only is that a super thoughtful thing you did, it IS fucking great!

Starlight said...

This is a really nice story and very well written. It's nice to know that there are still people out there who are prepared to help others without wanting something in return. That was really nice of you.

Since I'm a new follower I would like to invite you to check out my blog and become a follower. Do leave comments, I appreciate constructive criticism.

slommler said...

Beautiful story and it was great!! Ha!

otherworldlyone said...

I don't know of anyone that has stories like yours.

How awesome was Ricky? :)

I loved how, at the end, you talked about what it's like to give someone something that you're proud of - imagining their gratitude. Everyone does it, few admit it. And I love that you took the less flamboyant way.

Lash Chronicles said...

This is a wonderful story, especially the fact that Ricky helped you without you asking him. Good will is hard to find, and I'm sure he took as much pleasure in the look on your face as you did when they picked up the horse.

The Mad Hatter said...

See, this is just another reason you should never be robbed. Everyone in this story deserved a pat on the back.

I find it kind of odd that your story centers around a rocking horse considering that is what I got my youngest niece one for Christmas and had a devil of a time putting it together just right.

Fortunes Fool said...

Awww. I think I just had a feeling. That was beautiful.

Travis said...

The way you described going over ways to give it to her...it felt like I wrote that. Like those thoughts came from my brain.

The rest of it...wow. If I ever get to be HALF as good as you, I'm going to take over the literary world, Sal. Thanks for this.

Sally-Sal said...

I'd just settle for writing books.

You had an awesome grampa. Do you have any pictures of your horse?

I teared up a little, writing it. I saw Marcy the other day, and she reminded me about the horse. :)


I see her every once in awhile, and she stopped me the other day to remind about it.

It wasn't all me. Ricky stepped in and saved the day :)

Thank you. I'll be sure to stop by.

Thank you.

Seriously, you write the best comments. This is a post I wrote a week or so ago. I sat on it, thought about scrapping it, thinking it wasn't much more than filler. So, thank you for that.

Lash Chronicles:
Ricky was definitely a good 'un. Just a good old boy. He deserves the credit here, because without him, there would be no rocking horse.

Mad Hatter:
Ricky was a genuis. Woodshop is hard shit. I may be smart and all, but I couldn't even nail two boards together properly.

Fortunes Fool:
Thanks for stoppin by. :)

Papa Bear, you are always so kind with your comments. I just write what I feel, and hope it turns out okay. The rest is people like you, those awesome readers who keep coming back. Without you, there wouldn't be a blog. :)

NWO said...

That WAS fucking great!

otherworldlyone said...

Technically this isn't relevant...but when Fortunes Fool wrote "I just had a feeling", I immediately started boobing my head and beat boxing: "I've got a feelin'! (do do do, do do do, do do do)"

It's official. I'm certifiable.

Anonymous said...

loved this story :)

Jon Raeder said...

Really great story, these people are right, it sounds like a movie :) Keep it up!

Maryx said...

Procrastination is a B!tch. Thank you for sharing Sal, as always, I can't get enough.

Philip said...

Sometimes I just think you write like an angel. I really do.

ladytruth said...

How do you capture those moments in words? No seriously, I'll buy it from you. Name your price, sista. (Let's just keep it under a hundred, Christmas bankrupted me big time.)

Funny thing, I'm reading these short stories of an author I only recently discovered and she wrote about her grandfather making her a rocking horse; it was the last thing he gave her before he passed away and she sat on that horse until nightfall, just rocking and rocking and rocking.

You're a word genius.