Selection from The Third Kind of Horse
LEAD A HORSE TO WATER (PAGES 65-66)
There is a Jewish proverb about horses. Actually, it may not be a Jewish proverb, but I heard it at a wedding at the Gay Jewish Synagogue and here it is: There are three kinds of horses, which are you? The first kind God leads to water and it drinks deeply from the cool stream, the second can’t be lead so gently but it goes to the water and eventually, with a lot of coaxing and some help drinks the water of life. The third, God drags towards the water and whips the shit out of and still the horse has not gotten a drink.
Most of us are the third kind of horse.
There I was, a lesbian, scared to death of women. I found myself in the middle of a crisis and I fell for this woman. How rosy. Then, in order to hang out with her I had to spend time with a bunch of really cool women and guess what? I felt inadequate. Could I enjoy it? Could I revel in it? It just made me feel like a loser. I would say that the Goddess was whipping the shit out of my horse ass.
I knew this was my own fault. I asked Simone to come to Sistah Double Happiness’ drag show when I ran into her with Artemis. She said yes and came. Artemis didn’t think I would do it. She had to dare me. I did a little prayer in my head and mumbled something. I worked with the woman. I carried on conversations with her all the time. I spent most of my life acting as if I wasn’t scared so that I could have a chance of getting what I want. Then I got it. Why should this night be different from all other nights?
With Simone all there was was contingencies. She was a trapeze of contingencies. The woman was a flying fucking circus of exes and breasts and shoes and minor fame and God only knows what. She was gorgeous, wrote articles for the gay press. Everyone below Fourteenth Street knew she was writing a novel, some lesbian murder mystery that takes place in the East Village and included everyone we knew. I simply followed in her wake as we entered the Gay and Lesbian Community Center and melted into the crowd.
I would not have come to the Women’s Committee. I would not have. I would not have. Enough men are dying. Demos are demos. Zaps are zaps, I’ve been arrested. I hate it. I do it, anyhow. I march in Gay Pride. I muff dive, okay, really happily and with vigor and some praise. I worked at the New York City Department of Health AIDS Hotline as my job all day all week, forty hours a week. I really felt I did not need to go. And yet there it was again in front of me, the lesbian world I wanted to join and never felt good enough to be a member. This was the Goddess and the whip thing. I was the third kind of horse.
Michelle Auerbach is the author of The Third Kind of Horse (2013 Beatdom Books). Her writing has appeared in (among other places) The New York Times, The London Guardian, The Denver Quarterly,Chelsea Magazine, Bombay Gin, and the literary anthologies The Veil (UC Berkley Press), Uncontained (Baksun Books), and You. An Anthology of Essays in the Second Person (Welcome Table Press). She is the winner of the 2011 Northern Colorado Fiction Prize. Michelle is an organizational storytelling and communications consultant and lives in Colorado with her partner and her three kids.
Beth Couture is an assistant editor with Sundress Publication and the secretary of the board of directors of SAFTA. She is also the fiction editor of Sundress’ newest imprint, Doubleback Books. Her own work can be found in Gargoyle, Drunken Boat, Yalobusha Review, the Thirty Under Thirty anthology from Starcherone Books, Dirty, Dirty from Jaded Ibis Press, and other publications. Her first book, a novella titled Women Born with Fur, is due out in the fall from Jaded Ibis Press. She teaches at Bloomsburg University in Bloomsburg, PA.