28 July 2011


By Andy Weddington
Friday, 29 July 2011

"Show me your horse and I will tell you what you are." English proverb

Wilbur and Carol's surname was Post. Ed's formal name was "Mister Ed." Wilbur just called him Ed. Wilbur talked and Ed listened and talked back. Mister Ed was TV's most famous talking horse, of course. I guess you could say Wilbur was the original horse whisperer.

Francis spoke, too, but he was a mule and on the tube in the 50s, a decade before Ed.

Winston Churchill said, "There is something about the outside of a horse that is good for the inside of a man." Extending Mr. Churchill's sentiment, though never in saddle or having talked to a horse, common sense leads to the conclusion the outside better still for the inside if a horse responds when a man whispers.

Sunday afternoon, 03 July

A pleasant visit and lunch with friends was winding down.

The piece of paper handed me was 3 1/2 x 5 inches. White. Eighteen pale blue lines. Torn from its pad, the small holes running along the 5 inch length of the left side were no more. The paper had been casually folded in half--the crease following a line.

With no regard for the lines, three lines of large text were casually scribbled on the top half of the folded paper. The first line was a single four-letter word. The next two lines were three-digit numbers; a colon followed the first digit of each.

I glanced at the printing and made a mental note, as if that was necessary, and stuck the paper in the left front pocket of my khaki shorts.

After a few photos for the scrapbook, our guest party of three--two Americans and a young Swede--bid farewell and headed out; possibly to act on the information on the paper.

Sunday evening, 03 July

We did not act on the information on the paper. There was time but there was no time.

Once home,  pockets emptied and the piece of paper took up a 3 1/2 x 2 1/2 bit of space on my nightstand. For the next week the three lines of printing caught my attention twice a day--upon awakening and retiring.

When, not if, was the question.

Monday early afternoon, 11 July

I stuck the piece of paper into the front left pocket of my sage green shorts. Perhaps this day, though alone, there'd be time to act on the information. Maybe.

Monday late afternoon, 11 July

It so happens timing is perfect and there is time.

An earlier appointment is over. An important rendevous is set for three hours later. I cannot be late. I'd better be early--waiting. But there's a window and the second line on the paper--first set of digits--is possible.

Yes, there is time.

Seven dollars buys admittance. The room, dimly lit, is empty. Soft music is inviting.

I opt for a far left backrow seat--with clear view of the entrances and the entire room. Prior to Marine days I'd have plopped down in a center row and thought nothing of it. Those days are gone. Long gone. Situational awareness and 'high ground' ever important. Training.

I wait.

Twenty minutes later an older couple wanders in. They do not notice me. And as they are quietly chatting and eyeing seats in my vicinity they are startled to see me. The woman collects herself and in a slightly louder voice says, "We did not see you and thought we'd have a private viewing." To which they hear, "Sorry, not today."

They sit a few rows in front of me and well off to the left. Clearly not a threat I can keep an eye on them anyway.

The music continues. It's cool--the room, not the music.

Moments later a few more couples arrived. All older--retired. Their seats of choice, too, easy to keep an eye on.

Eventually, fifteen make up the audience. I odd man out. There was room for 100, or more.

The room darkened, retreating elegant curtains exposed a large screen, and the moving pictures began--promptly at the first set of three digits on the paper--4:50.

Previews, three or four, I do not recall.

The feature film had my attention from the beginning but especially when, soon after starting,  a gentleman being interviewed gave an analogy using Marines, Parris Island, and Drill Instructors.

Marines, Parris Island, and Drill Instructors--I know a little about them.

The film was interesting. Thought provoking. The Marines, Parris Island, and Drill Instructors analogy stuck with me--a frame of reference and decades old memories stirred.

The film was a documentary--a biography.

I could not shake thinking about Marines, Parris Island, and Drill Instructors.

The credits rolled. No one moved. And I sat--thinking about Marines, Drill Instructors, and Parris Island, and the parallels.

Conclusions: Drill Instructors should see this movie. So should officers who lead Drill Instructors. And so should Marines who train officer candidates. Marines should see this movie. Period.

What to say? The film teaches leadership, civility, humility, and, most importantly, lessons for life.

Buck, the film's title, was the four-letter word scribbled on the piece of paper.

Dan M. "Buckshot" Brannaman, Smokie's younger brother, goes by "Buck." He's a leader of people who lead horses. That is, he rehabilitates the two-legged beast. And trains the four-legged. He's good. The best.

So not another word about the film directed by Cindy Meehl, for even a few could spoil it.

Go see it!--4:50 showtime, or 7:35--the other three-digit number on the paper. Or whatever time.

Should you see someone in a back corner seat, odds are it's a Marine. 

Post Script

1. I don't know if the gentleman in the film opining about Marines, Parris Island, and Drill Instructors was a Marine or not. But why else such an analogy unless he was familiar? Probably.

2. Buck was the inspiration for the character "Tom Booker" in Nicholas Evans novel, 'The Horse Whisperer.' And he was "Bob's" technical advisor in the film by the same name. 

3. I don't know if Buck watched 'Mister Ed' or 'Francis the Talking Mule.'

4. With time to spare, I was waiting for my important rendevouz.

5. Some day, I'd like to meet Buck.

Author's Endnote

Thank you, Bill and Terri, for the recommendation. And, Bill, for scribbling it on the piece of paper. I still have it.

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