In my determination to write more (and subsequently stay sane) I have joined author Ann Dee Ellis in a memoir writing group. 3 days a week she gives prompts and then for eight minutes we write. Please feel free to join in! Here's my eight minute attempt today:
In the spring there was an infestation along the Wasatch Front of horses. Big, breathing, wind-swept white horses on billboards. Sexy horses, you know what I mean? They weren't like horses you rode at your uncle's farm with big teeth and swatty tails. No, these are mysterious horses, illusive, you know. Like the kind of horse on a romance novel. If you get me.
At first there were two or three along the highway. What is this? We wondered.
(What does this mean?)
"The Most Amazing Show!"
But in the coming weeks it was as though the horses were multiplying and suddenly there was a Cavalia' Odysseo billboard every five feet on the highway, on the freeway, on our town roads. Your eyes could not avert, there was no missing it. Every space of our lives was covered with a Cavalia image. It was a deluge! A flood! A smothering of advertisements. In restaurants! On buses! Trains! Commercials on our tv! It was shock and awe! SHOCK AND AWE.
"Wow. What was their advertising budget?" we wondered.
From Brigham City to Santaquin CAVALIA!
The Wasatch Front population of Utah united in our plight. We were together, billboard bombarded. No safe places. No shelter from the mystical. It was infiltration and we were the victims, all of us, together.
And then memes started on Twitter.
In our defense we supported each other with humor. We laughed at the situation on our respective platforms. It was funny. Really funny. People were so clever. A sense of pride grew into our hearts as a community. We were sharing and retweeting all the Cavalia jokes. Democrat, Republican, Mormon, Catholic. It was as though nothing else mattered excepted our shared Cavalia harassment.
But as the besiege continued after months we started checking in on each other at night. "You handling the Cavalia Situation ok buddy?" we asked our kids before bed. "Sure it's funny, but sometimes we laugh away the tears."
I only knew a handful of people who actually went. Paid money. Lots of it. But when you asked them how it was, you got a strange apathy. Almost like they were in a trance, they couldn't look at you straight or give you an answer with an adjective, "It was....really...and then...it was over." Their eyes going to some distant place.
And then, one day, they packed up the big white circus tent on the freeway and the show was over. The billboards started to be replaced with our usual Utah plastic surgery obsession. We went back to our corners, our lives, our opinions and our prejudice. Soon we would forget what it felt to be under the onslaught of Cavalia until we would run into an abandoned billboard south on I-15. The sexy horse giving a side-eye, like, WE USED TO BE SO HOT, YOU AND I.
Months later we watched the presidential election heat up. The country and our state felt the pang of division and derision. We retreated to our sides.
But for the spring of 2016 we shared a space underneath the thumb print of Cavalia. And we will always ask ourselves: was it really just a cover for a government top-secret experiment on communal psychology and marketing?
The Most Amazing Show.