Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Nigel the Friendly Zorce

Hello my name is Nigel and I’m a Zorse. A Zorce is born when a Zebra and Horse defy cultural taboos and decide to make love. I’m going to tell you the story about how I threw off the shackles of my dull, rural existence to become wandering maverick and a champion of the downtrodden. It’s also a love story co-starring a Hinny (that’s a horse crossed with a donkey) named Whinny.

Right now I am having one of those rare moments where you catch yourself smiling inwardly and think: I am truly content. I have plentiful raspberry jam vita-wheats, a decent supply of ketemine and, most important of all I have Whinny’s sharp intellect and moist equine anatomy waiting for me at the crossroads.
But it wasn’t always this way. It was only months ago that I was living on a farm in Warrandyte, locked in the soul-destroying routine of being a novelty pet and glorified lawnmower.

ACT I: Beginnings

My earliest memories are of being raised by a goat named Thomas. Now, don’t get me wrong I love Thomas like a father but that doesn’t change the fact he was an insufferable dullard. Every day would start the same: first, Thomas would express his infinite surprise at my very existence.
‘Hello there, what are you!?’ He’d ask loudly, stamping with each word.
‘I’m Nigel, I’m your friend and colleague,’ I’d reply.
‘Do you like grass?’ He’d enthuse.
‘It’s an adequate snack but I prefer raspberry jam vita-wheats,’ I’d reply.
‘I like grass,’ he’d say stamping again. Then he’d eat some as if to labour the point. He’d continue eating until he got full or tired, at which point he’d notice me again.
‘Lovely day isn’t it?’ He’d comment (irrespective of the weather conditions).
‘Not bad,’ I’d reply.
‘Did I ever tell you about the time I ate a napkin?’ He’d ask.
‘Yes, Thomas, you have regaled me of that particular incident before,’ I’d reply. Then, he’d tell me about the time someone dropped a napkin in the paddock and how he ate it and it how it was very delicious.

Yes, Nigel was an idiot but he at least he was a sweet-natured idiot. He was a saint compared to the insufferable nags from the neighbouring who spent their existence chewing cud and gossiping about goings-on of the thoroughbred world. Who sired who, who ran well on a wet track, who was a goer, who was a stayer, and on and on ad infinitum. I went through a stage of being lonely enough to feign interest. I learnt the racing lingo and navigated my neck through a perilous barbed-wire fence.
‘How about that race day, huh chaps? What a doozey of a meet!’ I enthused only to have the herd buck their heads at me. I attributed my initial snubbing to either surprise or simple misunderstanding so I tried once more, louder this time.
‘How about it eh? Long odds out of the gates or what!?’
Again I was cruelly ignored. It was only later, in the shadowy corner of the paddock, I understood it was my wild African heritage that had me considered a savage unsuitable for thoroughbred small talk. I am not afraid to say that the injustice and bigotry of that particular experience hardened my very being, and I swore never again to acquiesce to the herd. But my friends; with every noble exclusion comes an amaranthine isolation that can only be navigated by the steadfast and the just.

For weeks I stood with the wind in my mane contemplating a life of total, inescapable aloneness. Who needs companionship, I asked, when everything we need can be dreamed into existence?

During this dark period, my only respite from crushing solitude came with Jennifer’s visits. Jennifer was the progeny of paddock-owners William and Nancy Whittaker (well-meaning land-barons who, after an initial flurry of excitement about owning a rare and beautiful zorse, realised I would never suffer the indignity of wearing a saddle and treated me as benevolent gardening tool).

Jennifer’s status as an orange-haired child had her ostracised from normal human companionship so on sunny days she’d visit the paddock and read to me. Jennifer taught me about the great, existential works of Dostoevsky and the rich, modernist tapestries of Thomas Mann. She also introduced me to the rich raspberry tapestries of raspberry jam vita-wheats.

I had almost become resigned living my life through the realms of the aesthetic; dreaming my way in Russian hovels and lush English fields when tragedy struck.

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