Five Words

You’ve seen those 6 word autobiographies? They can be quite amusing.

Born, still breathing, not dead yet.

Worries too much, lives too little.

Born. Nothing happened. Waiting to die.

hay baleOr my personal favorite –

I shouldn’t have sold the Mustang.

For me, there are 5 words that can transport me (via intellectual time machine) back to when I was 7 years old.

Time to hit the hay.

That’s what Dad would say when he wanted us to go to bed. And our rejoinder was always the same.

“Dad – we don’t have any hay.”

And if we did? Would we hit it? Lie on it? Did he imagine we lived in a barn (for the record, we did not)? Was he raised on a farm? Definitely not. Was he comparing us to horses? We were wild, or as our mother would put it, rambunctious. That may have been the largest (i.e. longest) word in my limited age 7 vocabulary.

I was a big fan of TV Westerns – everything from Hopalong Cassidy and Roy Rogers to Tom Mix and the Cisco Kid. The ottoman was my horse and harnessed with my ability Cisco Kidto make a wide variety of horse sounds, I was literally galloping around the TV in the living room.

But no one fed me oats and I slept on a bed. There was no stall and there was no hay. We lived in a neighborhood that was an early prototype for the suburbs of the 1950s. Houses were arranged in orderly rows of straight streets and circles.There was still some open land to play in, with big rock outcrops to hide in or climb on, a pond where you could find frogs to chase, and some harmless wildlife. If there were ever horses in the neighborhood, they were long gone. We did find a horseshoe in one of the garden beds. It was enormous, which made us ponder the scale of the large draft horses that might have been used to plow the farmland that preceeded the home building.

If Dad had said it was time to “hit the sack,” we might have been able to understand that. Before there were nice pillows, maybe people filled an old feed sack with something soft upon which to rest their heads. Filled perhaps with hay? And maybe mattresses were also filled with hay. So that when it was time to go to sleep, you would hit the hay?

Dad once told us that when he was a young boy and times were tough, there was one bed for him and two brothers, so they slept crosswise instead of lengthwise. Fortunately, they were all short. But surely the mattress was not filled with hay. Now, we can only instruct the offspring to “hit the TempurPedic®.”


Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. He's written a mystery novel, which therefore makes him a pre-published author.

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