Horses Can't Laugh, But Sharks Can Laugh

Horses can't laugh, but sharks can laugh. They shift through the water and laugh wholeheartedly, at themselves but also at the seahorses who dance in their wake, singing plaintive songs about themselves. About being horses that can never, ever ride in the Kentucky Derby, no matter how fast they are.

But one seahorse did get to do it.

First, he trained a lot until he excelled at racing. Then he got caught by a fisherman on purpose. Once aboard, he startled everyone by leaping from the fisherman's net into a glass of water.

The water saved his life. Furthermore, it was deionized, which made him immortal.

He thanked God for this, taking a moment to think about how effort really pays off, and that one should never quit trying, and that it's a good idea to know how to sew, and that one ought to try to eat one's food gracefully, and that ancestor worship was not actually such a bad system, and so on.

The seahorse now felt both eternal and charming, like a goldfish. This motivated him to trick the child of the captain of the fisherman's boat into charting a new course, and so it was that he made his way to America, where he lived with Fievel and other Jewish men of similar extraction in a dank building redolent of Minsk and sauerkraut.

It was here that he learned not only to appreciate the writings of Isaac Bashevis Singer, but also that the promises of solitude are frequently broken. An outsider snug in an outsiders' community, his ambitions were in danger of blowing away.

But eventually the seahorse had to go south, to the South, and so he packed a carpet bag with crabbed writings and bleeding pens, and hopped a handy train – one that he found at a train yard!

He liked to look at the dust in the fields that he saw pass by from the train, and also at the dogs who rode hot-tongued in the train cars.

He got off in Alabama, as he mistook it for Kentucky. Who among us could blame him? He could not believe the humid atmosphere.

So here would be a good time to point out that the seahorse had thought his passion was racing, but it turned out that what he really liked was doing community theater in upstate New York.

He'd never dreamed how different he could be from himself, and his ideas of himself.

He still did not know himself, other than as a creature that loved to look at dogs and dreamed (sweatily) of being a larger horse.

It is natural to want to be larger, and even moral, but this was sheer vanity.

When he got to the Kentucky Derby and saw all the hats and white clothes, he was not really as excited as he had imagined himself being in the past. He was not even happy about being immortal!

But he loved to see all the shrimp on platters at the galas, because he hated shrimp passionately. He even tried to eat one, hard. But it was the same size as him, so he only succeeded in flaying it.

To be honest: this was enough for him. Nonetheless, he was trying to be a man, so he thought he'd try to run in the race and wow them all.

So he sneaked up on a thoroughbred, swiftly jumped into his ear and thus brain, and proceeded to thrash about until the horse had a seizure and died, leaving the seahorse in charge!

Maybe I should just be a jockey, he thought, and so he was, the greatest jockey, a small horse riding a larger horse, ears up and eyes in the wind, unwritten plays composting in his journeyman's heart.