I was 13 and living in Melbourne and had a riding partner called Casey. He tethered his pony, Snoopy, an obliging buckskin , onto any old vacant lot whilst I paid (well my Dad paid) for my pampered pony, a temperamental Cremello to be agisted in the paddock which backed onto our garden fence. It was a new suburb in semi-rural Melbourne in those days. Casey and I went to the same school and were in many classes together but never spoke. On the weekends and during school holidays, Casey and I were inseparable. He didn't have a saddle and rode bareback. I was spoiled and had all the accoutrement's including a rather disgusting velvet lined helmet that my mother made me wear and which I discarded the minute we headed out of sight.
We went everywhere. We took the horses and sploshed in the river, we galloped in hilly paddocks, we trawled through dusty fire trails and clattered through the suburbs. We went up to the local chippy and tied up the horses to the bus stop while we ordered hot chips and sauce.
We rarely spoke. It's funny, there was nothing much to say other than, "Where to?" or "Wanna canter up here?" or "Hungry?". We didn't converse much at all in retrospect. So it came as quite a surprise when one of Casey's friends declared that he had a bit of a crush on me.
He was a handsome boy, Dutch parents, silver blonde short-cropped hair and piercing blue eyes. He had that lovely olive tan that European tourists seem to acquire when down-under. He was a little shorter than me having not yet experienced that teenage growth spurt that alters a boy's physique in the space of a nanosecond.
Then after about 12 months of being in each other's company, he invited me to a party . . my first 'grown up' event. Of course it was late afternoon and home by 8 but I was young. I was so clueless I just thought he was being nice, it never dawned on me that he'd see this as his big romantic opportunity.
So, I was duly dropped off at said party and he greeted me with a rose. Eeuww . . this was my riding partner, my mate, my pal . . .for Christ's sake we smelled like horse sweat and loved it. Ok so the penny dropped. There was only one problem, I had never seen him in anything other than a school uniform or his riding jeans . . the growth spurt was obviously beginning (not what you think). His trousers were at least 4 inches above his shoes and between the hem of his pants and the top of his shoes . . .white socks! Call me shallow and bitch slap me to Tuesday . . WHITE SOCKS . . .in the day, this was not acceptable. For some reason, that split second flash of white and the too-short trousers turned me right off. All of a sudden this sweet boy had become a complete dag, a dweeb, a dork a nerd!
Despite his handsomeness, our friendship, his flashy white smile, he had become someone I was too cool to play with. But play we did . . spin the bottle . . .then in for the kiss . . .It wasn't the kiss that was bad, in fact it was sweet and gentle - it was me . . and him . . and the awkwardness and those socks and everyone cheering and jeering and the thought that it would be the talk of the class at school tomorrow . . when it was really Steven Rodriguez that I had a massive crush on and this little event might jeopardise my chances of a proper snog!
We didn't talk about it after that. We didn't hang out as much and shortly after, I found a real boyfriend with long pants and no white socks. Poor Casey was dumped unceremoniously and I've never heard from him since. I often think about him and what he's doing, where he is, what he grew into . . .Sorry Case, I was a shallow shit when I was 14! I'm much nicer now that I'm 50!
We weren't t0 be the perfect pair but didn't we have pretty ponies!
A Snoopy look alike buckskin