So you know how it’s hard to describe irony without using an example? Well…I have a doozey! It’s so wonderful I could burst.
First, a little background. Hold your horses. Ha ha, horses. You will see why that’s funny in a minute.
I live in Sleepy Hollow. That’s right, the real Sleepy Hollow. As in Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow, as in Ichabod Crane, Brom Bones, and a headless Hessian soldier roaming the woods by the cemetery at night looking for a head to replace his lost one. I like to freak people out by telling them I live two blocks from the graveyard, which is true. When people come to visit, I show them the Old Dutch Church, the bridge and other significant places from the legend. I tell them that my high school’s mascot was The Horseman—and we were the mighty, mighty Horsemen, might I add.
Ok, yea, whatever, moving on. My story is too great to squander your patience on the details.
Needless to say, Halloween here is a BIG deal. We’ve participated in many of the town’s traditions, but this year, for the first time, we went to ‘The Legend,’ an event taking place at the Phillipsburg Manor historical site. They decorated the grounds with gouls and goblins and ghosts, all appropriately gory and ghastly. (Ah, alliteration) There was a singing pirate, a joking magician, and a set of witch sisters. Most important of all was the Headless Horseman himself astride his mighty steed, pumpkin head in hand.
Yeah Yeah, ok whatever, moving on.
It was all good kitschy fun, but it was a bit nippy and we started heading home. As we walked, we could see up ahead the horse trailers parked on the side of the road. Beside the trailer we could just make out the silhouette of a stallion and a headless figure standing beside it, a jack-o-lantern his only source of light. Though admittedly less intimidating when dismounted, he was, well, uh, still headless. Overcoming my fear, I bid him Howdy, and we walked on our way. Just as we were about to pass the trailer, we hear a voice behind us. “Come here,” it said. We stopped and turned. There stood the horseman himself beckoning us forward. We all were quiet for a minute, hesitating. “No seriously, can you give me a hand?” said the Horseman, with a remarkably higher-pitched voice than I was expecting. “Oh, yeah, sure.” We shook ourselves out of our trance. “Could one of you hold onto my pumpkin while I get back on my horse?”
Kathy stepped forward to take hold of the pumpkin, though still with a measure of hesitation.
“What’s the matter?” said the decapitated man in black.
“Well you are rather imposing, you know” I suggested.
“Oh, yeah,” he said. “I forget about that sometimes. So I take it you don’t get asked to come closer by many headless men,” he added.
“It doesn’t exactly make up the best pick up line,” said my dad.
The Horseman seemed to have trouble untying the horse from its line, but with the combination of the light from the pumpkin head and my cell phone he was able to get it free. We all stepped back while he mounted the horse.
“Could I have my head please?”
“Oh!” said Kathy, “I forgot. I suppose you can’t go about without it.”
“I need it to see,” he said.
“And a very handsome head it is too,” Kathy added.
“Why, thank you,” retorted the horseman rather licentiously. “Thank you all for your help.”
“No problem,” said I, “Now go and terrorize abundantly!”
With a laugh, he rode off into the night.
I’ve lived in Sleepy Hollow for the greater part of twenty three years. Sometimes when in the cemetery I feel the need to look over my shoulder, but not until tonight had I ever encountered the Headless Horseman. Who would have thought that in this “encounter” the Legend himself would need help to get back on his horse. Isn’t it Ironic? Don’t you think?