Once upon a time, there was a 10-year-old girl named Kennedy. She was your typical ginger-haired 10-year-old; she liked glitter, shiny things, pink stuff, horses (Why does every girl like horses?), shoes, pizza, and the girly toy aisle at Walmart…All the typical 10-year-old girl stuff.
I met Kennedy on a run. She had broken her arm and I happened to be one of the guys on the 3-man ambulance crew taking her to the hospital to get checked out and whatnot.
After we got there, we did the usual routine: Introduce ourselves, make a bad joke or two, and ask some questions. Kennedy was in a great mood, all things considered. Actually, she was very talkative and mellow. She said she was on a trampoline and didn’t execute her mid-air summersault properly or something. So we stabilized her arm, did some other EMS stuff, put her on the stretcher and into the truck. Easy peasy, this run was going like clockwork.
I was in the back of the ambulance with the medic and Kennedy. We asked her mom to sit in the back with us; usually, if the patient is a kid, having a parent in the back with them will help them stay calm and mellow. Unfortunately, that just wasn’t the case this time.
Kennedy’s mom was a nervous wreck. She was going crazy, freaking out about stuff, demanding things from us, yelling at her very mellow daughter, cursing life in general, etc. It was insane. Sure, she had a right to be stressed out, but telling your 10-year-old that she’ll never excel in life now because she broke her arm wasn’t really necessary or appropriate at the time.
And, as predicted, the basket case mother made the daughter start to get antsy. The medic was busy doing medic-type things, so I decided to intervene with my question.
Oh yes, that question.
I said, in my best ridiculously optimistic voice, “Oh! Kennedy! I have a question for you, it’s the only question I have, and this will probably—no, most definitely—be the most important question you’ll ever be asked in your life. Ok? Ready?”
She nodded and said, “Bring it.”
Those ginger children, of all the kids I meet, they’re always so feisty with answering things! Or they’re really timid. Now that I think about it, there isn’t much of a middle ground with them on stuff. Hmm… Anyway.
I squinted my eyes and responded with a much slower and more dramatic voice, almost like this question had grave consequences if she got it wrong or something, “If you could have a tail, what kind of tail would you have? And why?”
Well, Kennedy had a mild look of surprise and amusement. I guess she wasn’t really expecting that question. Her mom wasn’t so amused though; she gave me this death glare thing. Actually, I’m pretty sure she sucked out part of my soul with that look. It was terrifying. Her mom was a ginger as well, and gingers are just kind of wild cards…especially when they’re in a small, confined space. Like the back of a moving ambulance.
I was sitting on the bench across from the stretcher, the medic was op my left on the bench (he was still doing medic-type things), and Ginger Mom was on the airway seat/captains chair behind the head of the stretcher.
I see the death glare, and I suddenly realize I’m faced with 3 choices: 1). Stay where I’m at and be eaten alive/beaten by the crazed woman. 2). Cower behind the very muscular medic. Or, 3). Stay where I’m at and try to fend her off with the light from my flashlight and stethoscope. (I was basing the rationale for that last one on the assumption that large scary creatures don’t like light and fire. That’s how it is in the movies anyway. And maybe I could’ve put the stethoscope ear pieces in her ears and then hit the other end, temporarily deafening and debilitating her.) Fortunately, she didn’t jump and attack me like I was anticipating; she just sat there and seethed, glaring at me with those soulless shark eyes.
That all happened in about 3 seconds.
In my fearful state I didn’t realize that Kennedy had started to answer the question. I looked at her and said, “Wait. Seriously? No way! Start over and tell me again,” like I didn’t believe what she said the first time. It worked.
She rolled her very large blue eyes and started over, “I said I would have a horse tail. A chestnut horse tail, to be exact, because it’s brown. Not just brown brown though, but a better brown than the normal horse brown. I like horses, brown ones are the best. Chestnut brown ones. I like horses.”
I was momentarily at a loss for words. What 10-year-old says words like “chestnut,” and “to be exact?” Ginger 10-year-olds, that’s who. They would also be the ones to like the color brown. Really, brown? Whose favorite animal color is brown? I always thought kids were supposed to want blue panda bears as pets or something… Not a brown horse. Ginger kids..such strange, little creatures..
After I finally composed myself, I was still a little confused by this “chestnut brown” thing. So I asked for clarification. I confusedly said, “Chestnut brown? Is that like a miniature pony? Do miniature ponies still count horses?” Kennedy, slightly frustrated about me not being horse savvy said, “No. It’s not a miniature pony. Those are called miniature horses. Ponies are bigger, and stupid. Chestnut horses are the good ones and they’re huge.”
The medic wanted in on this tail thing, so he piped in with what tail he would want. He said he wanted a gorilla tail, that way he could have a stump. Kennedy was shocked that someone would want a stumpy tail. To be honest, I was kind of shocked, too. Who wants a stump? Seriously, that just wouldn’t be fun at all. You can’t do anything with it.
Ginger Mom was still seething through all of this. She thought we were crazy or something.
We get into the emergency department to get Kennedy triaged, and Ginger Mom makes a point to angrily tell the nurse that her daughter “does not have a tail or a horse, nor will she ever.”
That poor nurse was so confused after the mom talked to her. We gave her a brief rundown of what happened to the arm, what kind of tails we all wanted, and how we thought the Ginger Mom needed some benzos. (Benzo is short for benzodiazepine. It’s a drug that can work as a sedative and a depressant.)
Oh, the nurse said she would also have a horse tail. Specifically, a pony tail, because it would be shorter than a normal horse tail. Silly nurses, don’t they know that ponies are stupid?
Interestingly enough, the room we put little Kennedy in had framed horse pictures all over the walls. Needless to say, that made her a very happy camper and the look on Ginger Mom’s face was priceless.
And that is the tale of the chestnut horse tail.