Saturday, January 11, 2014

"Gift Horses," A #YA Short Story

Douglas Winslow Cooper and Brian Maher

“Dad, my boss gave me three tickets to the Yankees’ game this Sunday afternoon. Do you and Mom want to go with me?” Rick worked part-time after school at the local hardware store in the spring. It was April, with the professional baseball season just beginning. His boss couldn’t attend this game and knew Rick would like to go.

“No, son, Mom and I have other plans, but I bet Tess and Tim would both like to go, and you can borrow the Ford.” Rick’s siblings were Yankee fans, too, like lots of people in their small town an hour’s drive north of New York City. “What kind of seats are they?”

“I don’t know yet. I’ll pick them up tomorrow. Probably pretty good. I could ask Mr. Pottinger where in Yankee Stadium they are.” The best seats were box seats and the level of the field. Next best were those in the stands. Least attractive were the seats past the outfield, the “bleachers,” which left you exposed to sun or rain.

“Don’t do that. He might think you are being fussy. He’s giving them as a present. The old saying goes, ‘Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.’”

“What? I don’t get it.” Rick was puzzled.

“It means accept a gift without being suspicious about it. People used to assess a horse’s age and even its health by inspecting its teeth and gums. If you let the giver know you were doing that, though, he could be offended.”

Rick, Tess, and Tim drove down to the Bronx that chilly April day. Rick paid for the gas, the Thruway tolls, parking, the snacks, and the scorecard/booklets. They actually had good seats n the stands and enjoyed watching the Yankees beat the Red Sox 3-2 in ten innings.

When they returned, his mother asked Rick how it went.

“Fine, Mom, we all had a good time. I was surprised, though, that we spent on all the extras connected with going to the game almost as much as the free tickets we got would have cost.”

“I know your dad told you not to look a gift horse in the mouth, and I understand that point, but as a history teacher, I have a different lesson in mind, about another horse, the Trojan Horse.”

“What was that?”

“About three thousand years ago, the Greeks were at war with the city-state of Troy. The war lasted ten years, with Troy surrounded near the end. The Greeks pretended to sail away, getting just out of sight, and they left behind a large, handsome wooden horse. The Trojans convinced themselves it was a victory gift from the gods, and pulled it inside their walled city.”


“The horse was hollow, and inside of it were Greek warriors. In the middle of the night, they opened the horse from inside, sneaked out, killed the sentries guarding the gates, and let in Greek troops who had sailed back that night. They killed the Trojans and destroyed the city.”

“I guess sometimes it makes good sense to make sure the gift you are given is not more trouble than it is worth.”

“Yes, Rick. ‘All that glitters is not gold.’”

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