jolie laide: For Horses of Passover

jolie laide

I started this when I lived in Brooklyn and struggled for grace in a city that grants moments of beauty and ugliness breathtakingly close to one another. Now I live in a place where things are a different kind of ugly and the beauty is pedestrian. I struggle with that.


For Horses of Passover

Clippety-clop, coming through the window of my office. Rats, I have missed the police horses stationed all around for Passover. I was so looking forward to having new horse stories to tell. So a re-post will have to suffice:

I love fall in New York. All of the Jewish observant days means there is increased police presence in the neighborhood I work in. The fact that this is necessary would be sad, but it means one great happiness will be in abundance, the most enduring NYC cop public relations image since the toilet plunger: police horses!

And the horses are beautiful-- tall, glossy and irresistibly exotic. They always draw a crowd of kids and their parents, a seamless appeal spread over the immigrant Chinese families, the Nuevo Ricans, the orthodox Jews. Usually the parents are just as awed as the kids, and they all just stand there, no-one daring to get close, just admiring.

But I am prepared, armed. I stroll up, get quick eye approval from the officer, then approach the horse. Pet his smooth muscular neck, then turn to the kids, who are now goggle eyed. Pull a packet of carrots out of my pocket.

Who wants to feed the horse?

They giggle, shove their hands into their pockets, hide their hands behind their backs. But there is always one kid—a kid with long payes in a black holiday suit, a Chinese kid with a cartoon character backpack, a Puerto Rican kid in a slouchy hoodie, that has that gleam in his eye.

I show them how to let the horse smell them, lift your hand to the massive muzzle, tuck your thumb in so avoid miscommunications, keep the carrot in the palm of your hand. At the first chuff of breath on their hand they pull back. I’ll take their hand and hold it up, cradled and safe, and when the muzzle whiskers tickle their hand, they will laugh, when the enormous gentle lips lap up the carrot they will collapse back into the group.

Another brave kid will step up, sometimes another, until we are standing in a ring of smiles, fostered by this gentle act.


Blogger famjaztique said...

I remember that...that first time feeding a carrot, or was it an apple, to a horse. Those giant giant teeth descending toward my hand, lips pulled back. I felt sure she was going to take my whole hand clean off. I flattened my hand, palm high, squenched my eyes shut and waited.

I was in awe at the grace of this massive creature, being able to find that small carrot on my small palm without a nick.

12:08 AM  
Blogger Dr. S said...

Two of my best friends here have wonderful dogs--big huskies--and I have known one of them for more than ten years. They and I are fully in love with one another; they greet me loudly and joyfully when I come over. But for years, when I tried to feed them dog biscuits, they'd nick me with their teeth, or I'd fear they were going to, and so I'd flinch and the cookie would fall on the floor and then we'd have a few moments of mutual bad feeling. Finally, my friend told me to put the cookies flat on my palm so that they could get hold of them. And they are so gentle when they turn their heads sideways and pick up whatever I have on offer. It's a little bit like magic, even though it's not at all.

10:33 AM  
Blogger ttractor said...

Dr S, it really is like and this animal are in accord, communicating perfectly despite the sum of your differences and all the ways you can misconstrue.

(hi Frou! nice to see you! hang in, almost time to graduate!)

8:55 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home