Dad Nixed Pony And Long Hair

Published: Thursday, January 23, 2014 at 09:01 AM.

Birthdays are kinda like the ancient merry-go-round that once proudly twirled at the Carroll County Fair. The more that whirligig got wound up, the faster it went. The first few turns, you weren’t sure you were moving, but let me tell you, once it got a little centrifugal force going, look out!  

            It took a million jars of strained Gerber bananas to get me to my first birthday. And I don’t remember one thing about it. I hope and pray Mom didn’t stick one of those silly cone shaped hats with the little rubber tie that went under the neck on me. Ye, gads!

Miss Carolyn made my seventh birthday memorable. She had me stand in front of the whole first grade as she announced it was “Kesley’s Day”. A class full of young people…..who turn out to be life long friends……clapped appropriately. I had never felt so honored! And I got to lead the pledge, eat first and dust the erasers. Every little boy/girl needs to feel “celebrated” at least once at that stage in their life.

It took forever and a half for my tenth birthday to roll around. But I’d had plenty of time to think. “Mom, can I get a pony?” She launched into the cost and care required for such an investment…… Daddy, wasting no time on explanations, answered with a crisp “no”. He wasn’t going to feed something that was too small to plow, didn’t give milk and wouldn’t bring a tinker’s hoot at the Tri-County Stockyard auction. They gave me a Bible with my name on it. Leon quickly pointed out that it contained lots of stories about donkeys, oxen, stables and all sorts of animals. 

It took an eon and two eternities for my thirteenth birthday to arrive. Mother made such a big deal about me becoming a “teenager”. I failed to catch any significance here. Oh sure, I was venturing out a little. I was growing taller. I’d hang around Frank’s Dairy Bar for more than the burger and shakes. Pam, Squeaky, Ann Carol, Ricky, Bonnie……we talked about life and what high school would be like. I was surveying my existence with a bit more inquisitive, howbeit, awkward eye. But still, no pony. 

  By sixteen I had it all figured out. If only I could have retained the intelligence, foresight, knowledge and assuredness that accompanied that birthday! And listen to this, as some type of validation of my brilliance and cosmopolitan persona, they gave me a driver’s license! I no longer had to “hoof it” or “pedal” to town. I could roll the window down, comb my crew cut straight up and cruise into Frank’s with the attention and fanfare that I deserved. Life doesn’t get much better than being sixteen!

If only my parents could have been as insightful, as sharp, as hip as me, life would truly have been like the songs Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee and Elvis were belting out of every radio, jukebox and record player in sight! Dad worked the fool out of us, restricted my driving to almost zero, wouldn’t let me grow a ducktail, made us “be home for supper” and didn’t even notice my new penny loafers.

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