In the winter, when the snowdrifts blocked the garage door or Mom didn't feel like cleaning up wet muddy clothing, I'd sit in the breakfast room for hours, wearing down crayon after crayon drawing pictures of horses.
Horses! I was crazy about 'em. I fell head over heels the first time I was put on the back of a little pinto in the pony ring at Kissena Park in Queens. I planned and schemed and measured the garage to see if we could build a stall big enough for a small horse. I was a realist. I knew how big thoroughbreds were, having seen them at Belmont racetrack, but I was pretty sure a feisty little mustang would be quite cozy in there. I lobbied for most of my childhood, I think, but my pleas fell on deaf ears. The parents were not gonna budge.
My best friend Jenny, who lived two doors down from us, had a wild imagination. We made up new games almost every day. Some were based on television shows, but most came straight out of our crazy little eight year old heads.
One day, we were sitting on my stoop discussing our love of horses and lamenting our parents' shortsightedness. (They just didn't seem to get how useful horses could be: they were easy to park, and I would be happy to run any sort of errand on my trusty steed, Dad wouldn't have to pay for train fare on the Long Island RR to Times Square, we'd never have to mow the lawn again, I could ride for help in an emergency, etc.)
Anyway, Jenny and I decided right then and there, that if we couldn't have visible horses, we'd just have to get some invisible ones that our parents couldn't see.
I decided my horse would be named Chocolate Pudding. He was a dark brown bay mustang with a long, flowing mane and tail the color of whipped cream. I think Jenny's may have been a pinto. The stables we kept them in (Cloud Nine Stables) were located (yep, you guessed it) on Cloud Nine.
Over the next couple of years, Jenny and I, her sister Lisa, and my sister Kathy formed the Invisible Horse Club of America, and held shows in our backyards. We held jumping events, steeplechases, and races, and endlessly debated the differences between a trot, a gallop and a canter. We set up viewing stands, and led stuffed animal parades down the block on our trusty steeds.
It was a great time to be a kid. No video games, or internet. TV was in black and white (ours was, anyway) and there wasn't much on in the afternoons except soap operas. Our parents expected us to amuse ourselves, so that's what we did.
I miss Chocolate Pudding. I just might have to get myself another invisible horse...this time, I think maybe it'll be a Palomino named Butterscotch. She won't be any trouble at all, really!
I'll just go measure the garage.