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Taking turns: A hard lesson learned

In my child’s heart, all I wanted was a horse. A horse of my own.

I had to share the horse my granddaddy, Pop, bought my cousin, Jimmy, and me.  Sharing was not in our nature.

Pop told us the story about two women in the Bible that were fighting over a baby and how King Solomon told them he would cut the baby in two and give each one of them half.

We decided half of a horse wasn’t much, especially if you got the tail end. We thought we’d give sharing a try.

For a while, it worked out all right. Ol’ Betty’s next stop was the glue factory. We rode her in tandem without a saddle or bridle as she moseyed around the chicken yard.

Then one day, Pop unloaded a big, shiny, black stallion in the catch pen. It was the prettiest horse I’d ever seen. Pop said Lightning was mine and Jimmy’s … to share.

He bought a saddle and a bridle and a horse blanket for Lightning. I’d never seen such a fine horse all dressed up like that.

Jimmy and I rode Lightning every day.  But our friends decided that riding Lightning looked like more fun than riding bicycles. 

Pop said we boys and girls would have to “take turns,” which we decided was the same thing as sharing. We didn’t want to take turns either.

But like Pop said to do, we drew straws to see who would get to ride first, Betty Kay and me or Jimmy and Preston.

We, the girls, got the long straw and got to ride first.

But, Pop didn’t say anything about how long we got to ride “first.”

We, Annie Oakley and Calamity Jane, saddled up and rode… and kept riding.

Jimmy and Preston waited their turn on Preston’s front porch. We would wave every time we went by. They would holler something that sounded like, “Get off” or “It’s our turn” but we weren’t sure.

Jimmy tried to pull us off by our feet but we giddy-upped Lighting and took off dragging him in the sand until he let go.

Finally, our backsides let us know it was time to get off.

We went to the barn and were taking off the saddle when Jimmy jumped from the barn loft onto my back and hauled me to the ground. We usually settled our differences with our fists but he caught me by surprise and from the backside and was punching me in the stomach with both of his balled-up fists. Betty Kay jumped on his back and started pounding him on the head. Preston jumped on her back and started walloping her. We had a free for all.

Dora, Pop’s cook, came running out of her house and beat us off each other with a straw broom.

Before our noses stopped bleeding, Lightning was being loaded in the cattle truck. The last we saw of him was his shiny backend on his way out of town.

That was a hard-learned lesson on taking turns.