(On a recent post, I mentioned [#14] seeing the smallest horse in St. Louis as one of the life events I look back on with complete joy. Weren't you a bit curious?)
Mike and I celebrated our six-month-anniversary in St. Louis, way back in July 2004. It was our first trip, just us, and it was easily one of the best four days of my life. I think traveling tells a lot about a person and it was during that trip I realized I wanted to spend my life traveling with Mike.
When we first got to the fancy hotel I had booked online for us, and we walked into our arm-and-a-leg-per-night room, my stomach dropped. It was the size of a large walk-in closet. And, oh boy, I was not paying for a large walk-in closet. I had to put our suitcase on the bed because there was literally no room for it on the floor. Mike went downstairs to see what he could do, and he returned with keys to a suite for the same price per night as our pseudo-closet. A SUITE. To hear Mike tell it, he walked downstairs and calmly told the receptionist his girlfriend was losing her freaking head upstairs and could she please help with that. I think he probably exaggerated the story to make the woman take pity on him and, sure, I probably didn't come off looking so fantastic but, again, A SUITE. FOR NO ADDITIONAL COST. At first she offered to send up a fruit basket. To which Mike responded, "She doesn't want apples, ma'am; she wants a bigger room." And I still laugh, thinking of him talking to this woman, pleading with her to just help him calm his crazy girlfriend down and unless the apples were in a martini, it just wasn't going to do. And it worked. It was one of the nicest hotel rooms I've ever stayed in, rivaled only by the room in Caesar's Palace that had a mirror on the ceiling and a bathtub in the middle of the room. (Nothing says fancy like knowing your room was designed for hookers, am I right?)
In St. Louis, I gambled in my first casino, we toured The Arch, we saw the Cubs play the Cardinals, we spent an entire day at Six Flags and we toured the Budweiser headquarters, which is one of the coolest places I've ever been—mainly because I managed to drink roughly five glasses of free beer. During the tour, we stopped in the Clydesdale's stables to see the behemoth-sized horses. Our tour guide was rattling off the history and showing us the exact horse that was in this or that Budweiser Superbowl commercial and I was walking around, gandering at all the beasts. They all had strong, powerful names—King and Thunder and Zeus—except for one. The smallest horse in the place—practically a pony, really—was named "Mike." And I could not stop laughing when I saw this. I was wheezing and could barely talk, stammering through laughter-induced sobs, "Baby! Look! OH MY GOSH! You're the smallest horse!" The tour guide actually stopped mid-sentence, glared at me and attempted to wait for me to compose myself before continuing. But I couldn't. It was just the funniest sight I had ever seen—all those huge and strapping horses and then "Mike"—the smallest horse.
Needless to say, Mike didn't laugh quite as long or as loudly as I did. But he did suffer through me telling the story NINE MILLION times over the next few months. As I showed our trip pictures to friends—"This was the cool riverboat casino in St. Charles, where we won NINETY whole dollars! Oh, and this is our killer suite with the fancy mini-bar and sitting area! And that's the St. Louis Bread Company, which is really just Panera!"—the uncontrollable laughter would always bubble up and spill out of me with no signs of stopping when we got to the horse picture. I would have to tell the story. No one has ever found it to be as funny as I still find it, but somehow Mike garnered a nickname out of all of it and big groups of friends still, years and years later, refer to him as the Small Horse. It's even taken on variations—The Little Horse, The Horse of Small Stature.
I even catch myself sometimes, talking to co-workers or acquaintances, saying, "I think that'll work; I just have to ask the Small Horse. I mean Mike." And, well, of course I have to tell the story then.
And it's one of my favorite stories, and I just can't believe I hadn't told you before now.
This is the only picture I have of "Mike" and it's a particularly crappy one at that, but I had to include it.
This is an unfortunate angle, I know, but for a size reference, I thought I should post it.