Hope springs

by Trey Nosrac

Shonda texted me:

“Hey bro, could you drive me to Wellington on Thursday morning? My insurance policy gave me the green light for another stay at a weight loss clinic. I’ll be in-house for two weeks and an outpatient for eternity. LOL.”

“No problem, I need to stop at a racetrack for my new owner’s license, it’s on the way. Time?”

“Need an 8 am pickup.”

“Book it, girl. This time it will work.

“Thanks, I feel like a ballet dancer already.”

Being overweight is a tricky subject. Most of the time, my half-sister and I banter. Shonda may be round, but she is sharp. She always has witty comments like, “My size is always the elephant in the room, or I lost two pounds this week; I’m surprised you can see me.”

On the rainy Thursday morning, Shonda tossed her small, red pull-along suitcase into the back seat of my RAV 4, struggled to climb inside, and then wrestled with her seatbelt. We finally heard the merciful click. She flicked a few raindrops off her pretty nose, turned, and said, “Thanks for taking me.”

“Anytime, girlfriend. I’ll drive you to the moon if it helps. Just hope you lose more than time and money this year.”

She smiled and cracked, “And I hope you don’t lose your ass on your latest racehorse.”

“Hope Springs.”

She punched me on the shoulder, “For both of us.”

“No. Hope Springs is the name of the yearling filly I bought at the sale. Shonda, this filly has a GREAT pedigree. She is the ONE.”

“Bro, you say that every year. You should make a recording.”

I dropped the RAV 4 into gear and began to pull away from the curb.

After a few seconds of the rhythmic wipers, she asked, “Do you think this is genetic? Do I have bad genes?”

I shrugged. “Our mother was damn near anorexic.”

“That was the meth. Mom was so busy messing up she never ate.”

“Well, if your genes are on the heavy side, it probably comes from the male side of the family. We all had a different father. Benny and I are normal, well, normal-sized, and of course, Benny’s addiction issues may come from our mother’s gene pool.”

She asked, “Do racehorses have fat genes?”

“No idea.”

“Come on, Trey. You have an idea about everything.”

“Well, I had one broodmare. That broodmare had nine babies with mostly different fathers.”

“Sheesh, she makes mom look celibate.”

“I watched every foal grow and followed every step of their racing careers, always looking for similar traits. The results were interesting and funky. I don’t have any scientific data, but there were weird patterns.”

“Like what?”

“Well, one thing blows my mind. You know the part of racing that interests me, Stakes racing?”

“Yeah, you told me 50 times. The horse only races at ages 2 and 3.”

“Exactly. None of the babies, not one of the nine, made money or did much in their 2-year-old season.”

She winced and said, “I know that isn’t a good trait.”

“No, it stinks, but this is the freaky part. Except for one that got injured, the others did well on the racetrack at age three or older.”

“A gene for late development?”

“I guess.”

She asked, “What about their size?”

“They all were average except for one shrimp and one dinosaur. The small one did come from a small stallion named Wishing Stone. But check this out, the mare had another Wishing Stone baby, same mom, same dad. The first one was small, and the second one was an average size. Those genes are mysterious little rascals.”

She heaved a sigh. “My biological daddy must have been a whale.” After a pause, she asked, What about racehorses? Did you ever have any fat horses?”

“No, some standardbreds are stout, and some are sleek. There were no whales that I ever saw, but remember, racehorses only get a daily feed bucket. It’s not like they can ask for second helpings.”

She smiled again. “Or potato chips and a tub of Breyers pecan ice cream at midnight. Or a handful of Oreos at every frigging commercial.”

“Yeah, that’s on you.”

“Literally on me. Maybe I should live in a stable.”

I nodded. “And run three miles daily.”

“Pulling a cart, driven by a handsome man who falls in love with me.”

I smiled. “Interesting concept.”

“I wouldn’t need to buy fat clothes, and people would help me travel in trailers.”

“At least you can laugh about it.”

“Oh, Trey, there are tears, rivers of tears.”

The wipers swished, and I said, “Keep trying, sis.”

“The road looks so long.”

“Hey, I just bought a $6,000 yearling. In harness racing, that level of yearling is like buying a Ford Fiesta and hoping to race at the Indianapolis Five Hundred.”

“Oh bro, you always have been a dreamy, delusional dolt.”

“Look, Shonda, I’m not wasting time on platitudes and pep talks. You will probably get plenty of them at the clinic. I know dropping a hundred pounds at age thirty-eight must feel like walking to the moon in snowshoes, but the only way to get there is to go forward with a hopeful heart. Hell, I believe my new filly will be great. You have to believe and go a step at a time. Let’s make a date. Next year I’ll waltz a thinner you into the winner’s circle.”

Her eyes misted up. “Where Prince Charming will cut in.” She wiped the corner of her eye. “Thanks, bro. I know you always have my back.”

I winked at her and said, “Hope Springs.”

We knuckle bumped. It felt good.