Breeders Pt. 3: Faux Pimping
For just eight dollars more per day than a Chevrolet Impala, the Enterprise at the Austin, Texas airport rents me a 2008 Chrysler 300 in “Inferno Red Crystal Pearl.” My Enterprise representative, who wears a white cowboy hat, black vest, and a six-pointed star badge with “SHERIFF” embossed across it, points at the plastic jack-o’-lantern and invites me to take as much candy as I’d like. I snag a Tootsie Pop and an eight-ounce bottle of Ozarka water.
The stereo activates with the ignition, playing Southern Crunk at smooth jazz volume. I’m in my costume, I realize, one I will assume throughout the next week. It’s an aspirational one, that of the high-dollar horse breeder, someone who can easily afford buying horses, breeding them, showing them, and selling them to sheiks and wives of rock stars (I’m talking to you, Shirley Watts!).
I’ve revamped the image some, wearing jeans and a tank top, Gucci sunglasses. My hair is as blond as it was when I was fifteen, and you can see a stylist swathed in tattoos cut it. My body isn’t what it was (how could it be?), but compared to most people outside of Los Angeles, I’m popping it with the muscle definition of my arms, certainly younger than the 42-year-olds these people typically see. I wear a Coke bottle top stud and a Star of David stud in my left ear. I don’t hide that I’m queer.
And I rock a 300. The only thing missing is the Tanqueray and the bud, but I don’t drink much, been to jail once, and don’t want to take my chances in Texas, know what I’m saying?
I stop at a ghetto H.E.B. supermarket to buy some shampoo and toothpaste and then continue toward the Whole Foods flagship store, where I always get my lunch. Rockwell’s “Somebody’s Watching Me” (Rockwell must be living large on his Halloween residual check––I always (and only) hear that song on October 31st) segues into Flo Rida’s “Low” (featuring T-Pain, who has become suddenly ubiquitous):
Apple Bottom Jeans
Boots with the fur
The whole club was lookin’ at her
I bob in my seat, my lips pooched out so that I avoid biting my lower lip as I cruise the top level for a parking spot. After tossing organic produce in my fecal-smeared shopping cart (I’ve read too many pointless articles on areas of infection lately. Shopping carts apparently top several lists. Oddly, toilet seats do not. Soap up! The 12 germiest places in your life), I head over to Fifth Street Seafood, one of the many cafes within the store, and take a seat at the counter opposite a glass case of halibut. A tall (trembling, querulous, fretful, tetchy, cross, peevish—choose two out of six. We appreciate your participation!) gay man wearing a yellow pirate do-rag, ruffled shirt, and an eye patch warns me he cannot take my order until he finishes clearing the tables at the smoked seafood counter several feet away. His plastic cutlass and scabbard is lashed to his drawstring pants by a thick lavender sash against his thigh as he strumps away.
I eat my lunch, buy my groceries, and start toward San Saba. When I try to pass cars in those hills leaving Austin, my 300 lags. I have to floor the gas. My old Pathfinder, still caked in ashes from the recent SoCal fires, not to mention the resin from the seed fruit of Mexican Fan Palms that line my street and dollops of bird crap, has more pickup. Without a Hemi engine to power these wheels, my 300 is about as authentic as a plastic scabbard.
I am a bona fide breeder. Last May my mare Isis foaled a filly that I named Al Asfourah, which is Arabic for “the bird.” Her nickname is Birdie. I named her after my Grandma Birdie, my mother’s mother who died when I was four. She was born in mid-May, as is this filly, so it made sense. When a kind Syrian man who has written a book on Arabic horse names told me that Birdie translated into Al Asfourah, that was the kicker. Beautiful name for a beautiful foal.
She was born a chestnut. At six months she is a rose gray, and she will continue to lighten until she is white, most likely flecked with the reddish color she was born with. Birdie’s only white markings are a star and strip down her forehead merged into what looks like the head and tail of a comet. She’s beautiful. I have gotten several compliments from other significantly more bona fide breeders than I am.
Some sample reactions (from e-mails):
“Wow! Love this filly. She is so well balanced and a lovely head. Her conformation appears to be flawless.”
“I absolutely love your little girl. Her eyes are placed so wonderfully far down on her head (a lot of distance from the ears is a good thing).”
“She is a beauty—nice soft curves, good balance, beautiful head with a neck coming out high in her chest and lovely orientation or a good hook as they say in the show ring. She is a winner.”
In addition, Birdie’s disposition is outstanding. She is friendly as a dog. She likes to park her shoulder parallel to me so that I can better scratch her withers, which causes her to disfigure her exquisite profile into an exaggerated overbite, often with her lips curled up. If I walk away, she will wait a few moments before approaching me once again, her ears pinned back (after all, she is a horse, and no self-respecting equid is too effusive around humans) until she is once again parked in ideal scratching position.
Also she’s clever. She copies her mama down to the mare’s signature belly scratch (after rolling, lie down with the heels of your front hooves anchored into the dirt and rub belly back and forth through the weeds), and yet when something causes the other horses to flip out, Birdie retreats from the pasture and retires to her stall until the commotion has stopped. She’s also good at herding dogs.
In short, I struck gold. I got what most every first-time breeder who is looking to take this beyond a hobby but who isn’t the incredibly wealthy South American descendant of a German business magnate hopes for, an exceptional filly that has the potential to produce more exceptional get (that’s horse talk for offspring) and confirms that her dam, the mare you bought on an instinct, is an exceptional producer and worth even more bling than when you purchased her.
Once the Austin radio stations crackle out, I sigh and switch to a Led Zeppelin mix I have on my iPod. It calms this twitch of anxiety I get that reminds me that my horse situation is not where I want it to be (over my head. In Breeders 1, I likened Arabians Ltd.’s pitch to going to the Clinique counter, but I sense I have fallen for its shtick, even if I didn’t buy one of its foals). Here I am with two fancy horses (and another good horse in Los Angeles) when I lack a physical farm and barely own my house. If I had known three years ago, when I bought Isis, that I’d be leveraged to near foreclosure, run through all the stocks I once owned, and that my big condo investment in Florida won’t come to fruition until at least 2011 (not a bad thing, given the state of the market, just not helpful to me right now), maybe I wouldn’t have bought Isis, bred her, and created a farm business that has allowed me to write off other stuff.
The good news is that Isis and Birdie are worth enough that if I had to sell them, I would potentially make a profit. But I don’t want to sell them. I have a dream of resuming development on that 12 acres outside of Memphis my partner and I own and building a small farm that could handle up to five horses. Isis and Birdie will be my foundation mares, and their foals will be like them, well bred, beautiful, intelligent, good movers, versatile. A lot of the best horses come from small breeders. If a sheik likes your horse, he doesn’t care what farm it came from (as long as it isn’t one based in Israel).
A Led Zeppelin song, “Good Times, Bad Times,” plays on my iPod, which is hooked to the car stereo auxiliary through a quarter-inch cable.
In the days of my youth, I was told what it means to be a man.
Now I’ve reached that age, I’ve tried to do all those things the best I can.
No matter how I try, I find my way into the same old jam.
A tortoise is crossing the two-lane highway several yards ahead of me. It’s in the opposite lane, three-quarters of the way to road’s shoulder. I marvel at it as I breeze by it, and then it hits me. I’m the hare and not of the Bugs Bunny variety. If I keep preening rather than persevering, I’ll fuck myself.