Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pulling the Horse Trailer

I think I almost hit the horse trailer coming into the driveway. I couldn’t be sure. I couldn’t see. It was dark. But it looked pretty close. It looked so close, in fact, that I cringed while waiting for the resulting scrape of wood post on metal. Luckily my entrance was of the soundless variety except for the slow crunch of tires on gravel and the horses whinnying to each other—You’re back! Hi! Welcome back! But it scared me.

I only thought I had to be scared going out. I exit out of the driveway onto the side road. Even though I got out the loppers before we left and cut off all the bushes that I could, widening the driveway by about a foot, it’s still pretty narrow and the street you turn on to, which I could do nothing about as far as widening, is just as bad. If I miscalculate, I’m in trouble. If I don’t turn wide enough, I’ll hit the hip of the trailer. If I turn too wide, I’ll go into the ditch. And I don’t know how to back up. It’s the reason why when the weather was iffy last month and we were supposed to go to a 4-H meeting on horseback (hence, requiring the trailer), I said, “I’m not going in this rain. I think I saw lightning. Yes, I definitely saw lightning!”

“It’s not even raining,” Kelly said, holding her hand up to the dry air. “And that was the neighbor’s headlights.”

You can’t pull the wool over her eyes. So I bribed her with the mall and then I distracted her by promising to take her to the tattoo parlor to get her cartilage pierced right after school on Monday. Hey, it’s not like I offered her a big sprawling tattoo of a skull-and-crossbones. Plus we were completely out of Victoria’s Secret underwear and Cinnabons.

The truth is, after twelve years, including trips back and forth from New Jersey to Oklahoma and Oklahoma to Virginia and then to New Jersey again, numerous times, I’m still no good with the horse trailer. It’s the backing. It’s tricky backing up a horse trailer. When you want the trailer to go left, you have to turn the steering wheel right. When you want it to go right, you turn the steering wheel left. It goes against everything I was taught. Point the nose and the back end will follow. I know, I know about the trick where you grip the steering wheel on the bottom, so that when you want to go right, your hand is actually moving to the right. But then I get even more balled up, as my mother would say. Top, bottom, left, right—where am I supposed to put my hand?! Wait, wait, I can’t think!

Throw the video screen in there that’s in the new dually, and I don’t even know where I should look. At the screen? Over my shoulder? In the side mirrors? But which side mirror? The left one or the right one, the whole mirror or that little miniature mirror that’s built into the whole mirror? Do I look ahead or should I just stop and get out and survey the situation before I go one more inch? My head is whipping all over the place like Linda Blair’s head on The Exorcist, my hand is going all over the place like the steering wheel is too hot to hold and the horse trailer is going all over the place—veering to the left, jackknifing to the right—and somehow I am getting more and more off course. Pretty soon, if this keeps up, I will have to call Kurt.

It’s embarrassing. I know I shouldn’t be embarrassed. No one who may be watching knows how long I’ve been pulling the trailer. As far as they know, this is my first trip out. I have nothing to be embarrassed about.

Kurt says just smile at one of the guys and he’ll help you. And that, in effect, is the whole problem. I’ve been smiling at the guys to get them to park my trailer for twelve years now, or letting Kurt drive (because he likes to drive and every time I think I should practice while he is with me, I’m too tired to insist and decide just to put my cowboy boots up on the dashboard and find a good country music channel instead) and so I’ve never really practiced.

Now I’m getting desperate. I’m thinking about letting Kelly do it. Of course, she doesn’t even have her license yet. But I’ve got a loophole. I heard there’s something called a “farmer’s license.” This is a special license for kids who aren’t old enough to get their real license yet but are needed on the farm to drive tractors and pickup trucks laden with blueberries or asparagus, a special permission for farm families who need all hands on deck, so to speak.

Or I can cowgirl up and just practice. And hang one of those Victoria’s Secret bras I got from the mall on the antenna. It couldn’t hurt.