Upon my return from Pittsburgh, one of my former college roommates invited me to a little get-together at the farm where she’s been house sitting since the beginning of the month. Finding myself in dire need of some serious girl talk after my weekend with Date #7, I accepted the invitation, grabbed a bottle of Two Buck Chuck and headed south.
Tempted by the promise of “farm fresh” eggs in the morning, I also accepted to the invitation to stay the night (call me crazy, but drunk driving all the way from Baltimore to Philadelphia isn’t really my thing, especially after I’d just driven from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia).
Unbeknownst to me at the time, “staying the night” also meant assisting my roommate in closing the gate after the last of the local guests had left for the evening.
Truth be told, she didn’t ask for help in closing the gate but it was dark and starting to rain so I felt I ought to offer.
In order for the rest of this story to make sense, you need to understand that there were a total of three gates on this particular farm and behind the first was a horse stall containing—you guessed it—three horses.
I’ve compiled the following diagram because even though I like to think I’m a fairly decent writer, I’m often baffled by feats of modern engineering (ie. gates, and while we’re on the subject: gas station pumps. I once circled a pump three times in order to get my fuel door on the correct side, but the car-to-pump alignment never changed). In additional, please note that I created the following without internet access and couldn’t find any horse clip art in Microsoft publisher so just pretend that these rather docile looking cows are actually horses.
To “close” the gates, we merely had to swing the two gates closet to the house on their axes, thereby blocking the road but allowing the horses to gain access to a second pasture.
Unbeknownst to me, there was a certain order in which each of the two gates should have been swung, in order to avoid a hypothetical situation such as that depicted in the following diagram:
(Do you see where I’m going this?)
I had the great fortune of living amongst a rather diverse group of girls in college. One rode horses— competitively— and spent the majority of our undergraduate years down at the barn while another interned at an animal hospital and is currently pursuing her doctorate of veterinary medicine. Either would have been a great asset in our nocturnal attempts to “secure the farm” but were they there with us that evening?
It was just me and my hostess, who penned last week’s guest post and works in the graduate studies office at our alma mater. You couldn’t have picked a more incompetent pair and before we realized what was happening, the first of the three horses decided to make a run for it.
“What should we do?” I cried.
“Just stay there. Keep calling him while I run down to the other end.”
“What’s his name?”
So I stay put, holding the first gate so it opens into the second pasture all the while calling “Horizon! Horizon! Good girl, good boy. Good whatever-you-are— now come back here!”
My hostess takes off down the driveway, half chasing/half racing the horse to the third and final gate, which separates the driveway from the road and in this case, life from death.
“What about the other two?” I cry. The remaining horses seem a little slow on the uptake so they’re just standing inside their pen but any minute now they’ll realize—
“I don’t think they’re going anywhere,” she yells back, but sure enough, they do.
Eventually, we come up with the brilliant idea that I should let go of the gate, run back to the house and get some carrots.
“They’re on the second shelf, on the left” my roommate shouts. What she doesn’t tell me is that there’s a hole in bag, so I end up dropping carrots all over the farmhouse on my way back to the gate, plus I don’t know the names of the other horses so I just start calling them good, average horse names (Starburst, Sunshine, etc.) and can’t, for the life of me, figure out why they’re not listening.
“What are we going to do?” I yell down the driveway. For all I know these are priceless thoroughbreds, and when their owner comes home from her trip to Africa to find them dead on the road, their entrails splattered across the asphalt, it’s going to be our fault.
After what seems like an eternity, my roommate trudges back up the driveway and tells me she’s locked the third gate.
“So we’re good?” I ask.
“We’re good,” she replies. Only then do I find out that this is not the first time this has happened, and Horizon and Snowball and whatever-they’re called not priceless thoroughbreds after all. The person who comes to feed them in the morning will deal with getting them back into their pen so we can just put the rest of the carrots back into the fridge and go to sleep.
The next morning, my roommate asks if I’d like to come with her to collect chicken eggs. For the sake of chickens (and my own sanity), I decline.
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