Thursday, November 19, 2009


We live in the town of San Juan Capistrano, which prides itself as having the richest equestrian tradition and resources of any suburban environment.  For those of us who do not own horses, there are still opportunities to get in on this program.

My wife, Wanda Jean and I decided to go shopping last night at the Super Market.  We got some shopping ideas from an internet chat room that caught our attention.  It was all about multi-tasking, which is one of my favorite euphemisms for doing a really distracted and crappy job on a variety of endeavors during the course of any given day.

This chat room was all about spicing up your marriage without all of the financial or logistical obstacles associated with a vacation at Sandals, or getting involved in swing parties outside your local community.

Many members of this chat room had some great ideas for adding some excitement and increasing the efficiency of the suburban family engine.

We like to dress up and go out, but with five kids, it is hard to make that happen very often.  Halloween is pretty much taken up by our children’s costume and candy cravings, along with our need to take the little ones around.
 I came home late from work last night, as usual.  The kitchen was full of dirty dishes and the refrigerator was virtually barren.  My wife shook me out a martini and suggested that we get the kids in bed, clean up the dishes and then make a special trip to the Super Market and try to have some late-night fun when the store would be mostly deserted.

Around midnight, we were ready to go.  My wife came down with a couple of costumes and trench coats.  She handed me a cowboy outfit and a superman spandex shirt.  “Hey, we are going to a Super Market, so dress the part. Once we get our costumes on, the only rule is no talking.”

Wanda-Jean went into the bathroom to change while I put on the Super-Cowboy rig.  She emerged from the bathroom, dressed in black equestrian boots equipped with taps.  She had matching black leather pants, a steel studded corset and forearm-covering leather gloves.  This program was topped off with a head piece that featured a Spartan style horsehair plume that looked like a jet black Mohawk. This stupendous lid was under slung with a stainless steel and black leather horse-bit halter attached to a set of reins.
It was breathtaking.  I said nothing and we got into the car.

When we got inside the store, she took off the coat and harnessed some straps to the front of the shopping cart and a set of rings attached to the back of her corset.  She gestured for me to take off my coat and get behind the cart.  She strapped on the head piece and looked over her shoulder at me as she passed back the reins.

I started walking behind the cart.  The store was virtually deserted.  We cruised each aisle, as our cart filled with family life essentials, to the staccato rhythm of her boot taps on the freshly polished floor.
We grabbed a six pack of those Red Bull-and-vodka beverages and started chugging them as the pace quickened.

A few employees restocking the shelves paused to check us out, but nobody interfered.  I started turning Wanda-Jean’s head harder with the reins as she rounded the corners with increasing energy and footwear clatter.

She started biting down on the bit and tossing her head at a diagonal as she grabbed handfuls of canned goods and tossed them behind her into the cart that was now careening ever more wildly, like in that climactic scene from Ben-Hur.  I was fully off the ground and riding Iditarod-style as we hit the straight away that led to the produce section.

Suddenly, another cart emerged from the furthest aisle and turned toward us.  It was our neighbors, Barry and Veronica Hunter-Jumper.

Veronica was dressed in a sort of slave-girl I-dream-of-Jeanie get up and Barry was dressed as a Sultan, except he was also wearing a superman shirt like mine.

We past each other at a high rate of speed and I reached out and grabbed a bag of beef jerky out of their cart as we narrowly avoided a head-on collision.  When we got to the other end, my wife wheeled rapidly and sent the cart sliding around to re-align behind her.  Little flecks of foam gathered on the bit at each corner of her mouth.  She pawed the linoleum with tap-clicking menace, tossing her shimmering plume up and down in exaggerated nods.  Then she reared up and launched toward our neighbors, who appeared to be coming back at us with the same level of urgent ferocity.

We sideswiped again.  This time I was able to seize a piping-hot rotisserie chicken in a bag, but Barry got a sleeve of English muffins and the family pack of boneless chicken thighs.  We find the thighs have more flavor than the breasts, but to each his own.  It seemed a fair trade at that point.

My wife spun us to the right and made for the self-serve checkout counter that the store had recently installed.  Veronica and Barry pulled up to the adjacent counter as both couples raced, without saying a word, to swipe credit cards and bag up the booty.

We finished almost at the same time and blew out through the automatic doors.  The girls looked at each other and simultaneously accelerated toward the driveway, leaving our respective SUV’s sitting in the isolated darkness of the parking lot.

They galloped all the way to our houses, going neck and neck on the horse trail that parallels all roads in San Juan.  Both girls were glistening as we diverted back to the street for the final half block leading up to our homes.  As we pulled even with our houses, at 2:20 am, Barry and I activated our respective automatic garage door openers and churned up the driveways into the empty vehicle bays, as the doors clanked shut behind us.

Once inside, Wanda yanked the quick release straps on her corset to gain freedom from the cart.  It made a sound like a pair of revolvers being cocked.  We left the stolen cart full of groceries to cool off in the garage as I chased her upstairs.

Barry and I walked back to the Super Market this morning to get our cars and go to work.  Wanda-Jean and Veronica put away the groceries and got the kids to school.

This is what it is like to live in an equestrian community.

These are the days.

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