Sunday, June 8, 2008

We Take Back What We Said Earlier

So, there was this man,

and he did a quite honorable thing.

When my best friend Starr Ann (hi, Starr Ann) and I were still at the orphanage, they brought this little boy to stay there. He was real cute, and real small for his age. Starr Ann was around twelve at the time, and I guess Jake was maybe four or five.

Anyway, Starr Ann was crazy about this child. She took him over right away and gave him the closest thing to a mother you can imagine. I always found it so sweet to see how Starr Ann and Jake got along.

Jake was forever falling out of some tree, wrecking his scooter, or being hit by a swing. Getting banged up was one of Jake's claims to fame. The other claim was that he was constantly talking about being a jockey someday.

Well, Starr Ann was pretty protective of that kid, and every time he got hurt she'd go pick him up and check him over real good, then worry like crazy that he had internal bleeding or something. One time, she heard in health class that when somebody hurts their head, besides making sure their pupils aren't out of sync, it's a good idea to ask them a question and see if they answer it the way they normally would. So, since Jake was never without a favorite jockey, that was Starr Ann's question for him. Whenever Jake got messed up, Starr Ann would grab him up (after carefully checking for broken bones) and rock him for a few minutes, then ask him, "Who's your favorite jockey." And he'd tell her his current favorite, which Starr Ann always knew, and then she could finally relax. Well, except for waiting for him to poop, so she could be sure he wasn't bleeding internally. But at least she could check head injury off her worry list.

Jake got adopted after only one year at the orphanage. The nuns frowned on letting kids keep in touch after they left us. Starr Ann grieved for a long, long time.

Still, after all this time, I don't mention Jake hardly at all. I'm just not up to seeing that one look Starr Ann gets on her face. But yesterday, after watching the Belmont, where Big Brown had an off day, and his jockey pulled him up coming off the final turn, regardless of what anybody might think of him, I kept thinking of Jake for some reason. And I could feel that Starr Ann was too. I just knew she was.

About an hour after the race, Starr Ann came walking by as I was folding some laundry. I rolled up a towel and bumped it across her head. "Hey, who's your favorite jockey."

The sun came out in Starr Ann's eyes. "Kent Desormeaux."

Well, at least I knew she didn't have any head injuries.