In case you haven't noticed, most all of my posts stem from song or movie titles. Perhaps it's the inner nerd, but my husband and I are constantly referencing music and movies in our lives, it's only natural for it to overflow into my writing. Why, you may ask am I addressing this now? "Don't Fence Me In' was originally written as a ballad by Cole Porter and sung by many of our great western heroes. The version that's going through my head as I write this post is the arrangement created by David Byrne of the Talking Heads in 1991. An upbeat, saucy little number that has just enough chaos to capture how I was feeling the day I took Emma into the store to find her 'pink' western boots.
Oh, give me land, lots of land under starry skies above, Don't fence me in. Let me ride through the wide open country that I love, Don't fence me in.
Over the summer, the girls and I travelled to Texas to visit with my mom. As per our usual Texas trip, Emma and Fran were signed up for a one week, day-long horse camp. Emma was over the moon! However, she was sorely disappointed that her riding boots from last year no longer fit and would not be making the trip with us. As luck would have it, my mom's neighbor works at one of the largest western outlets in the area of Texas we were in, so I got to thinking... Hmmm (it's always a dangerous thing when I start thinking).
'Girls, why don't I get you some new western boots!'
After all, they had been bugging me for new boots, my mom's neighbor worked at an awesome western store (which happened to be a five minute drive from the house, and in Texas that's a HUGE deal), AND I found a coupon for 25% off footwear. This was looking better and better to me. The girls would be getting fancy new boots for riding. They would be able to wear them throughout the school year - (goodbye cheap boots that start to fall apart three months into the school year) - everyone would be happy!!
Only one problem:
My awesome coupon expired the day I hatched this brilliant plan. The girls finished camp at 5:00. The store closed at 6:00. There was a forty minute drive in between. DAMN Texas!
I can do this, I can do this, I can do this!
Let me be by myself in the evenin' breeze,
And listen to the murmur of the cottonwood trees,
Send me off forever but I ask you please,
Don't fence me in.
With a cloud of dust trailing behind us, we pulled into the western store parking lot at 5:42. Doors flung open, and I was in army mode: 'Okay girls, let's move it, move it, move it!' Luckily I had done a little boot re-con earlier, so I had a price point in my head, a coupon in my bag and a song in my heart! I didn't sense we were in trouble until Fran, Granny and I were standing in front of the racks and racks of boots... Emma was nowhere to be seen.
Roadblock #1: Emma, my girl who had done nothing but talk about boots for days, fades to black. Emma was derailed right before the boots, and was now standing in front of a small selection of toys. Her eyes glazing over as she looked upon a bucking steer and cowboy. 'Em, Em, Em - we're not here for toys. We're here for boots.' 'Mum, look at this cool cowboy and bull.' 'Very nice Em, but we're not here to get a cowboy and bull - we're here for boots, and we don't have much time.' 'Well I'm not going to wear the boots unless I can get the cowboy and bull.' 'Emma! - You will not give me ultimatums! Now come and look at the boots or you will be running around barefoot for the rest of the summer!' (yes, i know - mother of the year award for that one!)
Roadblock #2: Emma decides she only wants pink boots. As we approached the sea of boots, I point Emma to a pair of boots I had scouted earlier. A sweet little pair in our price range, with a light brown vamp/counter and a red shaft (Emma's favorite color). Fran has immediately zeroed in on an awesome pair of rugged dark brown boots. 'I don't like them Mum... I don't want to try them on.' This isn't good, I think to myself... she's stopped looking at me. 'What do you mean you don't like them Em? They're red... your favorite color...' 'I want pink boots Mum... ALL pink.' By this time Emma has started to 'twitch'. Her legs have gone limp,
she's bouncing at her knees her hands are starting to twist and flip at her sides, and she's looking up at the ceiling, occasionally stealing glances in the direction of the cowboy and steer.
Trying boots on her now is going to be like putting boots on a jellyfish!
'They're too tight and squeezing my foot off!'
After months of wearing cloth tennis shoes and crocks, putting a pair of leather boots on a child with sensory issues is just asking for grief. Soon the sales lady (our western wear angel) and I are pulling every size 4, 4 1/2 and 5 pair of boots (apparently toes, styles and makes fit differently) in pink and pulling them on and off Emma and her less than cooperative jellyfish feet. As the pile of discarded boots around us grows, the desire to stick within my budget fades. Anything to find a pair of boots - PINK ONES! $400.00 snakeskin pink boots? Who cares - try 'em on her! (okay, I wouldn't really pay $400.00 for a pair of children's boots, but you get the idea...). Oh how I rue the day I set eyes on the 'coupon' - I blame it all on the coupon!
Just turn me loose, let me straddle my old saddle
Underneath the western skies.
on my Cayuse, let me wander over yonder
Till I see the mountains rise.
After thirty five minutes - yes, Emma managed to survive - of trying on every possible configuration of pink boots in the store, Emma is now the proud owner of one pair of pink and black cowboy boots! (just wide enough so they are not squeezing her feet off!) Fran has the pair she first gravitated to, AND I managed to stay within my boot budget and use my coupon!
I want to ride to the ridge where the west commences And gaze at the moon till I lose my senses And I can't look at hovels and I can't stand fences Don't fence me in.
Two days later we went back to our favorite western store, and picked up the bucking steer and cowboy.