“The Donkey Coat” (The Friendly Beasts)
This is a re-run from 2009, but it is one of my personal favorites.
My daughter has a coat we call the donkey coat. Her mother made it for her years ago, and she still wears it. She is a hip young lady, and says all her friends find it very chic. They don’t know we call it the donkey coat and we won’t tell.
It is a brown wrap-like thing. Maybe you’d call it a shawl. I’m a dumb man; I’m not sure. Her mama knitted it years ago. When my daughter first wore it, it went all the way down to her ankles. She was in the church Christmas pageant, and it was the coat that served to dress her up as a donkey. (She graduated to being Mary the next year) The outfit had a hood with some floppy ears too, but I don’t think she wears that part of the get-up now.
For years I got out the video of her as the little singing donkey. You know the line: “I said the donkey, shaggy and brown…”
We had an open door policy at the house, and I forever had friends show up to visit. Sometimes it was to ask about a tune they were looking for; sometimes it was a blood pressure question. I didn’t mind, but the down side for them at Christmas was they had to suffer through the donkey video. They didn’t seem to mind; she grew up in music and wasn’t a bad singer. About the time she turned thirteen she began to protest a bit so we put it away for a while.
I remember one of the last times I shared it with anyone. One winter Wednesday it was bitter cold out. I was off work. It was way too cold for golf and no one was picking any music, so I was at home. We had a lady who helped us some in the house back then. My wife and daughter had gone out shopping. When they came back home me and Ms. Violet were sitting on the couch watching the donkey video.
“I said the donkey shaggy and brown…” The ears flopped down over her eyes. Marie flipped them aside and never missed a beat. “I carried his mother up hill and down…”
“Lawdy Mr. Tommy if that ain’t the sweetest thing I ever saw in my life.”
“Ain’t it, though?”
Marfar and Miss Marie came home and found us there. Marie rolled her eyes. “Daddy, you’re hopeless.”
“Uh… well… yeah, uh… my contacts are bothering me, that’s all.”
I hadn’t shared the donkey tape with anyone in years, but when Marie came home wearing that shawl, I knew what it meant.
She brought it up first. “Daddy, don’t you want to watch the donkey video?”
“Sure kid. Let’s see. I wonder where that old thing is? Hm.” I went over and opened a few of the drawers of the end table near my seat in the den. “Hey. Look here; it’s on DVD now.”
She smiled. “Just don’t tell anyone you still watch it, Dad.”
“Okay, sweetie. I won’t; I promise.”
“I said the donkey, shaggy and brown…”
“You know, you always did have a nice voice.”
”But don’t give up my day job?”
”Right, right. But I tell you what’s the truth, that’s some good singing.”