If you’ve ever had the pleasure of watching a cinematic sex scene with your parents or seen a Great Dane’s penis, you might be able to appreciate the following story.
My mother had always dreamt of going to Ireland, and after working there for several years, I decided to surprise her with a plane ticket to Dublin. And of course, like any other circus act, you can’t just have one member traveling solo; you have to bring the whole family. The arrangement was that I would spend all of May excavating at the Blackfriary, and then in June, would meet up with my family for two weeks. In retrospect, it was a risky decision. I was trusting three people who had never travelled internationally before to drive 200 miles, take two planes, and somehow end up on the other side of the Atlantic. This riskiness was exacerbated by my mother’s struggles with punctuality.
My mother is a wonderful person, and I love her very dearly. That said, that woman cannot be on time for anything. Anything. The other night she was thirty-five minutes late for our Skype call, and she didn’t even have to leave her house. So really, when my family arrived in Dublin on time, all three of them alive and well with no obvious signs of a struggle, I was quite impressed.
It turns out that what had happened, Internet, for this miraculous feat to have occurred was that my sister did use force on my mother, and the only reason there was no sign of a struggle was because the poor woman didn’t even have a chance to fight back. Having driven to Cleveland the night before and therefore being ten minutes from the airport the morning of the flight, my family of course arrived at the airport forty-five minutes later than planned. Arriving at the airport late for an international flight is an abhorrently stupid thing to do because it takes at least two flights, and if you miss the first leg, you certainly aren’t making the second, and then you might try to get a different flight, but the change fee’s the same price as the original ticket, and then I’ve wasted $1200 on your sorry ass because you don’t know what a clock is. The only people who are allowed to be late in airports without offering a kidney or a child virgin as penance are pilots and flight attendants, and if you don’t believe me, read the fine print the next time you book a flight with Delta.
It was looking like my circus family was going to miss their flight from Cleveland to Chicago. My mother, who had recently had stents put near her heart, was running through the terminal as fast as a cardiac patient could, her broken arm flailing about in its sling. My sister, realizing that this was not an efficient means of travel, disappeared momentarily, re-emerging from a corridor with a wheelchair. Still running, she ordered our mother to “get in” and without waiting for her response, shoved her into the wheelchair. My sister then sprinted through the terminal pushing our mother, who at this point was laughing like an institutionalized manic dolphin, my brother jogging along beside the pair, making it to the gate just as they were preparing to close the cabin doors.
That was the flight from Cleveland to Chicago. For the flight from Chicago to Dublin, I had had two options that would not bankrupt me when booking the flight. The first was a layover of an hour and ten minutes. There was no way on God’s green earth that I was going to trust my family to make a flight with a layover lasting seventy minutes. The second was a layover lasting six hours. Obviously I arranged for the six-hour layover.
I will be the first to admit that a six-hour layover is not an ideal experience. You have to look around for restaurants with available seating, walking around in circles like a squirrel that’s forgotten where he’s hidden his nuts, sniffing the air wearily for something edible. Then when you finally do find somewhere to sit and eat, you have to keep ordering food and drinks, because the wait staff keep asking if there’s anything else they can get you, and you get the sense they want you to leave so they can get fresh meat at the table because you know that they’re only getting paid $2 an hour and need the tips but you’ve been traveling all day and don’t know where your gate is yet and now you’re drunk on overpriced wine. I get it. My mother was not about to have her Irish experience ruined by such airport hassle. An attractive, single brunette whose children had all but left the nest, my mother knows how to turn her flirt on, and that’s how she ended up in the private airline club sipping cocktails with a businessman for six hours.
We stayed in Trim, County Meath, in the Boyne Valley. Normally there isn’t much to do in Trim, and there hasn’t been since AD 1300, but fortunately the Hay Making Festival coincided with my family’s visit. It’s not important for the purpose of this story to go into detail about what exactly the Hay Making Festival is, but suffice it to say that it’s sort like what would happen if everyone at a small Midwestern American fair dressed up in medieval costumes and wasn’t fat, and the only food was ice cream.
One of the highlights of the Hay Making Festival is the donkey race. I don’t know why people are racing donkeys because the donkey has never struck me as a particularly speedy animal, but that’s what’s happening. Each donkey is given an eight or nine-year-old human child, and each child is given a helmet. The race marshals are teenage boys, whose job it is to rouse the crowd and to ensure that all donkeys follow the code of conduct throughout the one lap course.
My job, as it would turn out, would be marginally better than the race marshals’. My mother, in addition to being remarkably short for an adult, has a visual impairment. Consequently, sometimes things need to be described to her, and I will find myself narrating real life like a ride along Morgan Freeman, but white and with a much less attractive voice.
The children sat atop their donkeys at the starting line, staring intensely at the head race marshal, waiting nervously for him to shoot the gun. As it went off, four of the five donkeys and their children ambled from the start. The fifth stood still.
“There’s still one donkey at the starting line,” I told my mom.
The marshal took the reins and began to lead the donkey and its child onto the course. As the donkey came more fully into view, the reason for his delay became clear. The crowd gasped and then burst into a collective fit of laughter.
“Oh my God.”
People of the Internet, I don’t know if you’ve ever had to discuss the sexual functions of a donkey with your parents before, but that’s what happened.
Straight faced, I turned to my mother, looked her dead in the eyes, and said, “The donkey at the starting line can’t run because he’s got a boner and he’s being driven by what appears to be a seven-year-old girl.”
I have a pretty limited exposure to penises, and even less exposure to non-human penises. When I was a girl, my aunt had a dog called Pugsey who would get off whenever I pet him behind the ears, but I didn’t know what that pink thing sticking out was. I thought back to Pugsey and wondered if the little girl on the donkey knew what an erection was or if she was scared because the inside of her donkey was now on the outside.
The race marshal managed to get the donkey halfway around the track when the donkey stopped again, crippled by the massive slimy tail hanging between its legs like a kid in gym class getting hit with sudden onset puberty.
“The donkey’s penis is almost on the ground,” I informed my mother. Everyone was now watching the Horny Donkey and his child, and nobody was paying attention to the other contestants.
Suddenly, the crowd let out a collective groan.
“The referee is now kicking the donkey’s penis. He is trying to reinsert the donkey’s penis using his foot.”
Eventually, the donkey was led to the finish line, his erection half the size of the original showing, and praises were sung all around for the little girl who had endured the humiliation of having a testosterone fueled sex machine for a pet.
And that is the story of the Horny Donkey.