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Tony Vagneur: Saddle Sore

Tony Vagneur
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado

If you haven’t read Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” lately, don’t despair, for you are not in the minority. But, with all the recent rain, we’ve had the opportunity to wonder about things, and maybe it’s time to enter the realm of fantasy to get a grip on the real world.

In this play, the premise is teasingly broached early when one of the characters proclaims that chastity might be a fate almost worse than death, enticing us with the possibility of a sensual and potent journey through the appreciation of steamy sex in our lives.

I was surprised when a friend picked me up in an almost-new Cadillac sedan, leather seats and power windows, a drastic change from the Ford pickup he’d been driving, and it seemed like he had a bigger belt buckle, too, but I wasn’t paying attention to the details. His hair was fluffed up with some kind of greasy stuff and he smelled like the inside of an aftershave bottle. The evening air was warm and still, promising a busy night in downtown Aspen, and an air of excitement exuded from his every word, particularly when he said, “Come on, I want you to meet somebody special.”

It took me a second to get the drift, but that ol’ cowpoke was firmly entrenched in an affair of the heart. I started to wonder how he was going to pull it off, as if he actually could. The reality for me was that I could usually cuddle up with one of a few acquaintances, depending on the hour and the amount of alcohol involved, but somewhere in the back of my mind a door was opening to the thought that maybe this guy who had promised fidelity with crossed fingers wouldn’t be getting it on the flip side for long.

It was his second marriage, his energy and good looks pulling her into a world of well-bred horses, mountain adventures, good music and promises of more of it all to come. Naive and young, she couldn’t foresee the treachery that sometimes follows older men around, and she innocently gave it her all. It took the Cadillac and his sudden disappearance of a few days to bring reality home.

In “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” one of the characters unknowingly has a balm placed over his sleeping eyes, which will enable him to fall in love with the first woman he sees upon awakening. This is most likely a twist on the old adage of “falling in love at first sight,” although women, when referring to men, sometimes refer to this “love at first sight” phenomenon as something like following your leading member around, and I’m not talking about your nose.

The last time I saw him, he’d been by to borrow my truck – had some stuff to haul, he said. There isn’t a mirror on the planet astute enough to tell him he made a stupid mistake, and it wouldn’t matter anyhow, not at this point. The fancy car is long gone, and lately he couldn’t afford another one, but he wants to bring his new fiance up from Denver to meet me.

As the sun began to set on our outdoor table, his ex-wife continued the conversation, her eyes drifting away, and with an almost inaudible choke, said, “Back then, I’d have never believed love could be so fickle. My God, we hadn’t been married that long, and his cheating cut to the quick of my soul. I can’t trust anybody anymore.”

With the exception of the Cadillac, it’s a reasonable remake of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Shakespeare didn’t invent the frailties and foibles that make us human, but he was very good at laying them out there for all the world to see. I doubt my friend ever read a thing Shakespeare wrote, but like a leaf in the wind, he continues on.


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