Monday, June 6, 2011

I Am Pumpkin

Seabiscuit and his jockey
One of the reasons I went to the convention over the weekend was to spend time with J., my (much) older sister. The amount of fun we have together probably should be illegal in the 50-and-over category, but my role in this was not just to have fun.

Among her many skills, J. is a wizard at organization. (I credit this talent to her being the oldest of five children, and her inborn need to keep all those siblings in line.) She has organized dozens of conventions and festivals and contests and camps, and she was the natural choice to be registrar for this convention.

As it turns out, being the Border Collie in charge of rounding up and registering upwards of 300 women is a formidable task. J. spent hundreds of hours making sure each woman had somewhere to sleep, and the proper meal tickets, and name tags, etc., etc.  By the time convention opened, she was just a wee bit stressed. No one else could tell, because she kept a smile and positive attitude front and center, but I recognized the tell-tale signs of tension in her non-blinking eyes and uber-calm voice.

I happen to be reading a book right now that spoke to my role in this situation. Seabiscuit, by Laura Hillebrand, is a fascinating look at the famous Depression-era racehorse. While the book is riveting in its own right, it's also educational.

I learned that one problem with racehorses is that the very traits that make them fast (competitiveness, energy) can make being cooped up in a stall dangerous. The horses often buck or kick and injure themselves in the confined settings. To calm the high-dollar racers down, trainers bring in companion animals to share their stalls.

When Seabiscuit began thrashing in his stall, his trainer brought in an old, slow, placid horse named Pumpkin, and the more famous counterpart immediately calmed down. From that time on wherever Seabiscuit went, Pumpkin went as well. Pumpkin did not train, race, or otherwise work for the cushy accommodations and non-stop acclamation that went with being companion to nation's top animal athlete. All Pumpkin did was hang out and stay calm. Seabiscuit did all the work, Pumpkin reaped all the reward.

My job at the convention? I was Pumpkin.

Now if you'll excuse me, I think I'll go take a nap and rest up from all that strenuous non-working.

1 comment:

  1. I just saw the 1947 movie recently again, and think I've seen the 2003 version too, but not sure. Wonderful story. I'm sure you were a good pumpkin. csl