Who’s Your Horton?

She couldn’t have known how it would affect me. If she had, I’m convinced she’d have forbidden me to have contact with it. My mother’s German. She’s a strict disciplinarian. Had she known my life would forever be shaped by it, well, there’s no telling what would have happened to my Horton Hears a Who book. I’m thinking it would have conveniently disappeared one day when I set off to school, much like all our family pets. “That’s strange, when I left this morning, Mom, we had a tank full of fish.”  “Mom, where’s the cat?”  “What do you mean you grew bored with the birds?”  “Mom, we only had that dog for fourteen hours!”

Oh, yes, I’m certain Horton Hears a Who wouldn’t have stood a chance.

My typical grade school morning sounded like this, “You missed the bus AGAIN?” she would say. Her accent is only noticeable to us when she’s angry. Shit. She was angry. She sounded more like, “You meeezed zeh bus AGAIN?”  “Yeah,” I would say, pretending I didn’t know she was using the voice which made my older sisters call her “Eva Braun.” Missing the bus wasn’t intentional on my part. I knew she was trying to get ready for work. She was a single parent. She most certainly didn’t have time every blessed day to take me to school. “Well you left here in good time. What were you doing?” Why did this last question always need to be asked? It’s true, I set out in good time to make the school bus. But there were so many little rolly-pollies on their backs, and snails in the middle of the walkway, they all needed rescuing. I couldn’t leave them there. Someone might step on them. I’d come home in the afternoon and find the carnage. Oh, no, it couldn’t be borne!

I’m vegetarian. I’ve been one since I was 18. I dare not have been one sooner. She’s German, I said that right? They’re a people really into their meats. The lectures I would have been given. I shudder to think. It’s bad enough now, “Denise, you look disgusting! You’re so thin!”  “Disgusting? Ah, thanks. I’m not thin, I’ve got back fat which would counter your argument.” (It is usually around this time I’m tempted to whip off my shirt, even if we’re in a public place, and show her said back fat.)  “Don’t you eat REAL FOOD?” (This is said in such a repulsed tone, as if tofu is the work of the devil, and plainly all my troubles would be solved with a nice slice of liverwurst on pumpernickel). “Yes, Mom. I eat. Says my muffin tops.”

Flashback to Horton: I don’t kill anything, no matter how small, hence my ant escort service listed in my previous blog posts. There must be some reason that ant’s alive. Far be it for me to harm him. In fact, not only do I not kill anything, I rescue everything that needs rescuing – always have. Even if it made me late for the bus.

Don’t get me wrong. There were days I took the bus, just many when I didn’t. I still remember Zane, one of the older neighborhood boys, picking up snails and hurling them at the wall at the bus stop. My jaw dropped. I went around trying to gather them all up before he could begin the next major league windup, but it didn’t make a difference. He wouldn’t stop. He was “bored.” That day I didn’t MISS the bus, I ran home, sobbing at his cruelty. That was 5th grade. I still remember the sound they made on impact. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn Zane grew up to be a serial killer.

My softhearted nature has been passed down to my children, I’m happy to say. Though they’re not vegetarian, they have respect for life. They’ve both gotten into scraps at school protecting  bugs or mice. When I’d be called in to discuss it with the principal or teacher, I would tell them how proud I was. “And, by the way, glue traps are inhumane!” Go me.

It was at some point when I was nineteen that I realized everybody needs a Horton. That while I was looking out for the best interests of the living beings within my sphere (“Mother Nature” as my husband calls me), someone bigger should be looking out for mine. That I was just this little speck alone in the world, in need of someone to pick me up and dust me off on those days when life seems such a burden. All these years later, I’d still like to have a Horton. I thought I had a Horton once, but that was just silly, it was more like a “blankie.” There’s no Horton. And there’s no knight in shining armor. And I realized I’m nothing more than an individual speck floating around amidst a sea of other specks. Life isn’t about being rescued by someone else, but by coping with things on your own, but while I’m coping, I save those that need saving. That’s just how I roll.


7 responses to “Who’s Your Horton?”

  1. I once had a small bird get into my enclosed porch. I tried to catch it, shoo it, got a racket (not to hit it.. to help shoo it). I tried everything but he kept flying into the windows. I called my little brother (who was about 11 at the time) and he came to our rescue. Phil stood very still and waited for the bird to just stop moving, he slowly put his hands up and cupped him, and then took him outside. I envy that quality.


  2. I can’t stand to kill anything either. We had a mouse get in our house once and once in my husband’s car. I forced him to catch them both and take them to some nice fields. We also get lots of ladybugs and crickets, which I insist be caught and let go outside.

    Except for spiders. Those I want dead.

    It upsets me when people just kill small animals and bugs, because I keep thinking their families are somewhere waiting for them to come home.


  3. Are there levels of “veganism” or is that a joke? I quit eating dairy, beef & pork, not for any moral stance, but for health reasons. I still consume the fowl, and “it’s ok to eat fish ‘cuz they don’t have any feelings”, (or so Cobain sang).

    I lost my stomach for hunting when I was a kid, but I know in Texas if they don’t “harvest” white-tail deer every year they overpopulate quickly, leading to disease and starvation. The last time I killed anything it was a rattlesnake, and he had his chance. I was going to “live & let live” by moving him away from the house, but he struck at me. I could have called a herpetologist I guess, but I was pissed, so I blew him to snake-heaven with a shotgun.


  4. Love love love this post! Wow. I am not like you, but gosh I wish I could be. It is lovely to know there is someone out there concerned with protecting all the little creatures regardless of how icky I may find some of them. Denise – you also have such talent for putting these stories into words…when is that book coming out? :o) Thanks so much for having this blog!!!


  5. My son loves Horton. He also loves to smash bugs with his blocks. He must be a chip off the old block.


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