When I was a kid, Dad bought me a hobby horse. My uncle gave me a ten-gallon hat. Grandma surprised me with two six-shooters in a holster on Christmas day. Mom bought me cowboy boots three sizes too big.
“How cute,” they all said when they saw me dressed as a cowboy.
Hopping on my springy horse made me feel like a big man. It gave me a rough, gritty identity even at six years old. In my little fantasy world, I rescued damsels and chased the bank robbers. I was as heroic as the Lone Ranger sitting atop his horse, Silver.
I couldn’t ride my hobby horse enough. His name was Rusty, and I rode him along the dusty trails and canyons. I rode Rusty day and night, and even dreamed of riding him when I was sleeping.
Then one day, I fell off my horse and collapsed on the green shag carpet in the living room. Mom said that I was too tall to ride Rusty. Dad told me that I was too old to ride a wooden horse and to be an imaginary cowboy.
“You need to grow up, son,” he said. “You’re fifteen-years-old.”
So, they gave my hobby horse to Cousin Alan who was four-years-old at the time and not a very good cowboy.
Years passed. I moved on from the hobby horse. I left being a cowboy and wielding a six-shooter behind.
Life was never as fun, however. I had a tedious job, made car and house payments, and did annoying chores like cutting the front lawn and putting together furniture from IKEA.
Then one day, I passed a saddle shop on my way to work. Standing proudly out front was a large brown wooden horse. I couldn’t help but think of Rusty, my old friend. I felt a strong impulse to ride the wooden horse even though this one was ten feet high.
Something told me to go into the western store and work out a deal. I knew that my wife would think I was crazy, and the neighbors might raise hell.
“This is highly unusual,” said the owner of the store. “No one’s ever wanted to buy him.”
“I’ll give you a thousand dollars for it.”
The owner scratched his head and before I knew it, I offered him two thousand, and another five-hundred for a saddle and riding equipment.
Soon the wooden horse was in my backyard, all saddled up, with a large bale of hay.
It was my time to be the Lone Ranger again.