"Is it like a porn name?" she said tactfully. "Cos' it sounds a little porny."
Party Porny? Anyway, no! No, not at all! My sainted mother's curly hair would go straight as a pin if she heard such slanderous suggestions.
|Me love you, dirty martini.|
At age 14, I was so scrawny and friendless that I made friends through the mail system. I had a whole bunch of pen pals, and they were all hopelessly horse-mad. One called herself "Dream Rider" and another called herself "Blackie." We traded something called "Slam Books," which were little homemade stapled books—made by girls for other girls, or sometimes greedily for oneself—that would ask questions such as:
Who is the dreamiest?
Favorite horse breed?
Best friend's name?
Finish this sentence: Horses are____.
Put your fave sticker here!
Slam Books were invented to "slam" other kids with mean statements, but ours were totally innocent. They would get passed around through the mail system and each girl would add her responses to the questions (for the participants were always girls, except for the occasional pervy man who entered the system, much like today's cyber-stalkers, by posing as a teenage girl). The answers were gushy: Duran-Duran! Nick! Appaloosa! and were studded with screamers (!!!) and heart symbols and stickers of plump spangly ponies. If all went well, the Slam Book would get returned to the girl for whom it was created--but often one's Slam Book, like a modern recipe chain email, never came home.
Sometimes you would see a kindred spirit in the pages of a Slam Book, and you'd seek her out by writing a letter. Some of them discouraged friendships: NNP (No New Pals), they'd write at the base of their signature page. I was drawn to various girls by their handwriting: Jennie's curled, perfect script; Erika's blocky, confident pen marks. The girls who claimed to own horses were my frenemies, for I had no horse. I didn't even have a pony. All I had were about 18 Breyer horse models and a list of names for my future steed. I read their letters with a thin thread of jealousy souring the breath in my mouth. But I loved them all the same.
At one point I had a whole crew of pen pals, and I decided to band them together. We needed a name. Hence was born THE PONY CLUB and I, now self-named Pony, would be its leader. Perhaps we would have a face-to-face meeting one day. We would call each other by our Club Names: Pony, Blackie, Starlight, Mystique. We would ride together through the fields!
(Ponies must be a little porny because all those names are dirty, dawg!)
Anyway, lots of letters came to our house addressed to THE PONY CLUB by more girls who wanted to be a part of the cult. (I was pretty puffed with self-importance at this stage, because I had such a slew of friends...who had never met me.) The best of the letters would have a horse drawn on the envelope in such a way that the return address would be written in the tendrils of a flowing mane and the recipient's address within the horse's saddle. Every time a letter came my brothers taunted me remorselessly, calling out "Pony Club delivery!" with a giddy lilt.
For years whenever someone wanted to give me a poke, they would call me "Pony." Those who knew the tale, that is. One day a few friends and I were driving in NH and we saw a big sign that said "Party Ponies! .5 Miles."
"Party ponies! Gosh, I'd like to see them," I said. I thought they might have pink ribbons in their manes. Maybe their saddles would be in Lilly Pulitzer patterns. No doubt they would frolic a great deal. We never came upon them (wily creatures). But I have always longed to find them... sort of like mythical unicorns. Maybe they would lead me back to the day when I sat alone in my room and gazed beyond a fly, beating itself lifeless on the ice-starred window, and into the fields beyond.