horse pantaloons

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Young Adult  |  House: Booksie Classic
story of young love and the worst band name ever

Submitted: May 15, 2017

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Submitted: May 15, 2017

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Horse Pantaloons was easily the worst name for a rock band ever. And we all told Karl that but Karl was the guitarist, lead singer, song writer and we were using his parent’s garage. And, as he reminded us, his Mom always made us a snack.

Today, because of the rain, it was grilled cheese and tomato soup. The cheese was warm and spongy. The soup was like poisoned blood. It might have actually been spiked with something to make us all compliant, knowing Karl and his manipulative mother, so that when he told us the new name of our band, none of us argued much.

We were a subservient lot. I played bass, 3 chords but had recently nearly mastered a fourth. Fat Jerry was our drummer. He was only the most recent in a line of drummers. Nearly every Christmas, several boys in the neighborhood got a kit as a present and decided to join our band but after a few weeks of getting bossed around by Karl, they usually quit, smashing their kit as they exited the garage. Relieved, I suspect, that they had a valid excuse to never pick up a stick again.

Celia played keyboard and barely spoke. Even Karl seemed spooked by her. Her playing was superior musically to anyone in the band, though she rarely kept time with the rest of us. If we were playing in ¾ she was 5/4. Or she’d hit a single note and bend it and turn the volume up and down while Karl wailed about another girl breaking his heart.

That’s why it was so shocking when she resisted the name. Jerry and I grumbled when Karl suggested Horse Pantaloons but Celia, who had last spoken 6 months before to ask if she could get a ride home from practice because of the snow, snort-laughed. You know one of those laughs that come out of your nose because whatever caused it was so ridiculous it had nowhere else to escape and sounded like the air pump at the gas station you use to fill up your bike tire.

So she makes this noise and me, Jerry, Karl and Karl’s Mom, who was in the middle of cleaning up snack plates all froze. You have to understand, Celia never made noises or talked, so a lot of the time you forgot she even existed.

“What?” said Karl.

“Yes, is the there a problem, Celia?” Karl’s Mom asked.

For what felt like an hour, but probably was only 7 or 8 minutes, Celia never answered. She just noodled with the keys of her unplugged keyboard, so it was like watching a ghost play piano. Key’s would depress but no sound came out.

As I watched her, I realized what she was ghost playing, Beethoven’s Fur Elise. I took a really remedial piano lesson a long time ago and they taught us Fur Elise because it was easy and if you say it’s Beethoven everyone acts all impressed. Truth is, for a long time, I thought it was For Elsie, like he had dedicated this simple tune to his daughter or girlfriend but it turns out Beethoven didn’t have children or sex with anyone cause he was a music freak.

Anyway, there’s Celia in Karl’s garage having just snort-laughed at his dumb band name and Karl is turning red with rage because he thinks Horse Pantaloons is the greatest band name since Led Zepplin. Karl’s Mom puts her hand on his shoulder to sorta say, ‘ok, Karl, calm down,’ and I can see her perfect nails with their blood red polish and wonder if the tomato soup we just ate was really Karl’s Mom’s nail polish.

Then Celia goes, “Yeah, there’s a big problem. Horses are..Horse take…..Have you ever seen a horse in the wild? Well, not the wild but like on a horse farm? They just walk around and shit where ever. They don’t really care about privacy. Just plop, plop, plop while they’re eating or plop, plop, plop while they’re walking, even if someone’s riding on their back. It’s gross and disgusting. And a pantaloon looks like a big diaper, right? I mean I know we don’t agree on much in this band, except what Karl tells us, but surely we can all agree that that’s true. So basically, you want to call our band Diaper’s of Horse Shit. That’s not even a good name for a punk band.”

Karl’s Mom was holding a tray of dishes and as Celia spoke, more words in one day than she’d ever uttered in her previous 16 years on earth. Karl’s Mom, I guess, was leaning forward and the tray slowly tilted until Celia said the part about Diapers full of Horse Shit, which was hysterical, Jerry and I both agreed afterward, and the dishes went smashing on the floor and Karl leapt off the couch in the garage, crying, “Mommy.”

That was the day I fell in love with Celia. Of course I never told her that. And it would be another 3 years, during the summer between our sophomore and junior years of college that I even got up the nerve to ask her out. That’s because we were both working at the Dairy Queen on Rt.7 and it was late and there were no customers but we had to stay open until 11 and I said, “Hey, Cel, you remember that time you ripped Karl’s stupid band name? He wanted to call us Horse Pantaloons and you said why not call us Diapers of Horse Shit? You remember that?”

She put down the magazine she was reading and thought for several minutes, which I learned you should never interrupt, then shook her head no.

“What?” I said. “How can you not? Karl’s Mom smashed the plates and Karl called for his ‘Mommy!’ You really forgot that?”

She just shrugged and started flipping through whatever sci-fi graphic novel she was into at the time but before she got lost inside the galactic battle in those pages I said, “Hey you wanna go out after this? Like tonight, after we close up? Go out and, I don’t know, get an ice cream or something?”

She looked at me surprised, like I had popped out of a closet at a surprise birthday party. Then she looked around the Dairy Queen. And then she did it again. She snort-laughed. And I realized what an idiot I was but instead of getting mad, like Karl, I laughed too. And she snort-laughed some more, harder and she slid to the floor laughing and I started pounding on the counter trying to inhale, laughing so hard I was blind from the tears, when a customer walked up and stood there for like 20 minutes watching us like we were exotic animals at the zoo there for his viewing entertainment.

That just made us laugh harder and point at him. And every time he said, “Um..excuse me…” it set us off again.

Much later that night we got up off the floor and put our uniforms back on. I was embarrassed because it was my first time but Celia said it was fine, most boys were fast their first time.

“Fast,” I asked? “I didn’t even get out of my boxers.”

“Yes,” she sighed, her signature sigh and what I later found out was called ‘ruefully,’ after we were married. 


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