Wednesday, April 25, 2012

And now for the rest of the story...

As Paul Harvey used to say, "And now for the rest of the story..."

BAGMAN: "Who -- not that I care -- was Paul Harvey?"

BUTLER: "He was a syndicated radio broadcaster for ABC up until the early 1980's who was famous for telling part of a story, pausing, and then saying, 'And now for the rest of the story'."

BAGMAN:  "Great.  Now my day is complete."

Anyhow, it recently struck me as I was walking Daisy that, unlike Paul Harvey, I don't always remember the rest of the story.  I suffer from chronic storytelleritis.  After I tell the same story many times, often using poetic license to make it a bit more interesting...

BUTLER: "Lying, in other words."

"Exaggerating, a little," I protest. "There's a difference."

BUTLER: "Not technically."

BAGMAN: "Hey!  If lying and exaggerating are the same thing, why do we have two words for it?"

Anyhow, after I tell the same story over the years, I suspect I begin to forget what really happened and remember the way I told it as factual.  I create in myself an actual memory of something that may be partly fictional. 

BAGMAN:  "This is boring.  Time to mouse over to someone else's blog!"

"For instance," I continued, undeterred.

When I was whatever age I was in this photo, I spent part of my summer at a girl's camp in Maine. 

BAGMAN: "Whoa!!  Now this could be interesting!"

Not really.  I was well chaperoned by Shirlye Dana.  Shirlye had been my mother's close friend before my mother died and Shirlye lived with my grandparents so I grew up with her as part of my extended family.  Among other things, Shirlye spent her summers teaching horseback riding at this girl's camp in Maine and one year she invited me up.  She thought I would enjoy it (which I did) but I also think she needed someone to help shovel manure (which I didn't enjoy quite as much).

BUTLER: "But you are quite good at shoveling manure in your blog."

I did get some free horseback riding lessons and Shirlye took me out to circle the small riding ring.  I learned to walk, trot, and canter.  And to shovel manure.

There was also a jump in the middle of the ring made of wooden posts but Shirlye would never let me attempt it because she didn't want to send me home to my grandparents in a cast. 

But one day, as I was cantering endlessly round and round the same damn ring, beginning to think that shoveling manure might be more interesting, the horse I was riding suddenly made a turn, picked up speed, and headed for the jump.   I wasn't suppose to do the jump but Shirlye had never told the horse.

We broke into a full gallop.  Shirlye was yelling, "Whoa!  Whoa!  Pull in the reins!"

I was thinking, "All right!!! Whoooeeee!!"    And we sailed over the jump in perfect form!

...and now for the rest of the story.

I don't know why I remembered this while I was walking Daisy the other day but for some reason I caught myself wondering.   I have a clear memory of that jump.  I remember hanging on, squeezing my legs around the horse, fear, adrenaline, excitement.  I remember the hard thump of the front feet and the shock of landing coming up through the saddle and the stinging slap of the leather against my butt.

But I also have a slightly less clear memory of the horse reacting to Shirlye yelling 'whoa' and gently coming to a full stop before the jump and then returning to the walk-cantor-trot drill. 

It nags at me.  I really can't remember which version is true.  Storytelleritis.  

BAGMAN: "Who cares?!  And what I want to know is what happened to you up there?  Did you breathe too many manure fumes?  You spent a month at a girl's camp and this is the best story you came back with?!!!" 

BUTLER: "Nags at you?  Was that supposed to be a pun?"


  1. Fascinating story! And yes, human memory is widely unreliable, even today when everything we do can be (and often is) documented on blogs, in pictures or video clips. Just ask any police officer who has ever had to deal with several witnesses to the same incident; the number of story versions is usually equal the number of witnesses.

  2. Great story. I have a couple of horse stories myself from childhood. Maybe I'll share those on my blog sometime. Yes, you have jogged my memory........or is it really a memory? Hmmmm.....

  3. Maybe another rest of the story of the girls camp to come? :-)