Once when I was Riding Instructor

So Leslie the Life Coach has conducted her big reveal and, no, I don’t mean her breasts finally burst free from their polyester prison. I mean the other Big Reveal. The one where she references the personality tests I took, six pages of Excel spreadsheets, and the voices in her head to explain how I’m destined to be a teacher. Specifically, how I’m destined to be a riding instructor.

Yeah, I needed a moment to compose myself too.

But back to poor Leslie. Y’all, I really think she was expecting applause. She had the biggest, toothiest grin on her face and she gave me an invoice on scented letterhead. She didn’t understand where the awkward silence came from, much less what was up with my expression, which I can only charitably describe as a hemorrhoid grimace.

Sadly, this is not the first time someone has suggested this, uh, career path. Maybe it’s the chipmunk cheeks. Maybe it’s the southern accent. But people want to trust me with their kids. They laugh when I say I’d rather be pushed into traffic than teach little Kingston Yale or Aurora Jade.

To Leslie’s eternal credit, however, she did not laugh when I explained all of this. She did look a little nervous though. Papers were fiddled with. Suggestions were made in the low, slow tones reserved for crazy people.

Which pissed me off.

It’s hard enough to take yourself seriously when your Life Coach’s breasts are sloshing about like unruly Big Gulps, spilling all over your dash or, in this case, all over her paperwork. Hell, it’s hard enough to take yourself seriously when you have a Life Coach, but the idea that I’d make a fitting riding instructor for our nation’s youth is all kinds of ridiculous.

Still not convinced? I was kind of hoping you wouldn’t be.

Let’s go back to 2001, we’ll call me Romily and we’ll call my hyperventilating, forty-three year old student Charlene—because that’s the first name in the baby book my in-laws gave me and now they can’t say I never opened it.

Poor Charlene. Seriously. She made me look relaxed. The woman couldn’t exhale without inhaling half of her Xanax prescription, which was religiously renewed every two weeks. And while I knew she was one Ambien/Bellini chaser away from being Anna Nicole, I also knew that most of her worries centered around two main themes: the inane (“What if someone else is wearing the same dress I’m wearing?”) and the insane (“What if meteors come to kill us all?”). So, sometimes, I had a hard time suppressing the eye twitch.

Which on this particular afternoon, I think Charlene noticed.

She was staring expectantly at me and I realized she was waiting for me to convey some sort of deep, meaningful remark about equestrian philosophy. After all, riding is rife with euphemisms and metaphors and, presumably, that’s what she was paying me for.

For example:

Ben Jensen: “The horse’s energy is like water. You cannot and must not stop the flow, but, rather, you must channel it.”

Sally Swift:  “Pretend you are a spruce tree; the roots grow down from your center as the trunk grows up.”

Me: “Sit in the saddle like your butt itches.”

And people wonder why I always say writers should be read and not heard.

But in all seriousness, I’ve found a real job. I’ll be working in HR for a company downtown. Apparently, they were impressed with my “composure” and think my “inner-compass” would be good for the department. How long y’all think it will take before they realize my composure is highly caffeinated and my inner-compass is made of tar?