Toulouse-Lautrec – Circus Dressage

Ann emerged from the bathroom only to hear a furious honking coming from the driveway.  The girls scurried into yesterday’s clothes straight from the dryer.  

“Ouch, the zipper’s HOT!” said Colette.

“Hurry” said Mary.

Ann walked out to find Dee calming a frenzied woman in a honking mini-van.

“Great.  Who’s this, your GIRLFRIEND?  That’s just perfect.  My daughter, gone all night to be with her trainer who brings home her dyke lover.  What next?” the woman was slurring her words.

Dee hardly blinked. “Terri, this is my oldest friend Ann Garrison.  Ann, this is Mary’s mother Terri.  Ann drove up last night from Los Angeles to check on a few of the horses she sent up here.”

“Yeah.” The woman looked Ann up and down as she judged Ann’s athletic body. She pounded the car’s horn with manicured fingernails and yelled “Girls, you are going to make me late again – get OUT HERE!”

The girls emerged from the house, dogs following, pulling backpacks over shoulders and tucking hair behind their ears.  

“Thanks Dee.  Good to see you Ann.” They yelled in unison as they clambered into the mini van.  The van lurched backwards, scattering the dogs, turned and gunned out the driveway.

“Holy shit, what’s the deal with that woman?” asked Ann.

“Oh, just alcoholism, a cheating husband, bored out of her mind and generally unhappy. Other than that, she’s okay.” said Dee.

“You can’t just let her treat you like that?  Dropping the girls off and not coming to get them until the next morning, yelling at the kids and accusing you of all kinds of things when all you did is take care of her daughter for her.”

“Why not?” replied Dee.

“What do you mean ‘Why not?’ Because it’s total bullshit, that’s why.” said Ann.

Dee had begun picking at a scab behind the ear of one of the barn cats.  She didn’t look up when she answered “There’s a lot of bullshit in the world that I can’t do anything about.  But I can help the kids and that’s about all I can do.  I think this old cat is going to need antibiotics.  He keeps fighting with the younger cats and getting beat up.  Do you think he looks okay?

“Him?  What about you?  What about who is going to take care of you?  Why are you always taking care of every lost dog, cat, horse and kid?  When was the last time you went out?  When did you last see a doctor?  When did you last take a vacation?” asked Ann.

“Look Ann, if you haven’t figured it out yet, let me tell you something.  Nobody gives a shit about anyone but themselves. Not in the way that you think they should. If you expect anyone to take care of you, whether it’s a doctor or a husband or mother or a waiter – you are just in for a big disappointment.  There is no balance sheet at the end of the day.  You do what you can do, you relieve a little bit of suffering when and how you can.  You are still going to get old, you are still going to get sick, you are still going to lose people, no matter what.  So you can just muddle through each day or you can take a deep breath, and make some more tea and, as long as your legs let you, you can get on a horse and things will be as good as they are going to be. That’s all I know.”

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