When I was about to turn 10, my mother took me out — just her and I — to go shopping for my own gifts. It may sound silly, but at the time it was the coolest thing ever. A few blissful hours in which I was the only kid and had the sole attention and direction of my mother. And her wallet. We even stopped for sundaes too.
The only thing that topped it was the actual gifts I chose.
There was the Louis Marx Comanche horse, the bay with black mane and tail with articulated head and legs; sure to make my sister pea-green with envy. And there was a boxed set of colored pencils — not just any colored pencils, but water color pencils.
Comanche was lovingly played with, surviving far better than most plastic horses, and was eventually given to a younger horse-loving cousin. But the pencils are another story.
I’d had colored pencils for years in school, of course; but these were different. They were water color pencils. They even had a permanent plastic case which stated their magnificence and superiority above the usual temporary cardboard box. These pencils were so prized, so grown-up, so filled with the colors and promise of real art, that they intimidated me. I rarely used them. In fact, 30-odd years later, they sit, looking nearly untouched.
I won’t lie and say that Comanche wasn’t loved; he really was. But I was willing to put him to use as the manufacturer intended. The water color pencils, however, were so loved I didn’t dare use them.
Without getting overly sentimental (and risking sounding like a cliche), it’s really sad to acknowledge that somehow I’ve thought the world needs more loved-into-being-tailless horses more than whatever art I might have made. The world, and I, can survive both.