ShoreBilly's Swill on ShoreBread

I’m going to take a break from my weekly tutorial intended to educate people on the “do’s and don’ts” when going to a bar. I’ve found myself once again unwittingly playing the starring role in a goofy story that I think is just entertaining enough to share with you. And, as always, this one is humorously at my own expense so I hope you enjoy…

I just recently learned of a disturbing sub-culture the likes of which I never even dreamt existed. I find myself troubled by their mere existence because in a bizarre roundabout way, it hits a little closer to home than I would like. In order to explain all of this, I have to first give you the complete back-story.

My now 8-year-old daughter is very much into My Little Ponies. I recall this anomaly from my pre-teen years when they were big the first time. I never really got into My Little Ponies though for two simple reasons. First, that I was an adolescent, and second that I’m a dude. About the time they hit the scene for their first tour I was discovering my penchant for human females. I didn’t realize until now that they were still around and bigger than ever.

Within the past year, I finally broke down, went against everything I stand for, and got a smart phone. I allowed my daughter to download a My Little Pony game app to my phone. She loves to play it, though I only allow her to in small doses, and she thinks I’m the coolest Dad in the world because of it. Okay, so I’m a hypercritical sell out. This story is going to skip around just a bit, so follow along with me. It all ties together in the end.

One day, I had the rare luxury of a little time to kill, and I happened to be on Facebook. I’m not sure what I clicked on, by accident of course, but I found myself on my own bio page. Just out of curiosity, I started to peruse what was here for all others to see who wanted to learn about me. I wanted to know what my social media persona was telling the world about me. I found the usual boring stuff, hometown, birthday, college, employer, birth date; my wife’s name—all seemingly innocuous stuff. Then came my likes: Baltimore Orioles, Pink Floyd, Mel Brooks’ movies, cheese, a breast cancer awareness page, bacon – no surprises up to this point. I scrolled down a bit further and stumbled upon the bombshell! Right there, plain as day for the entire world to see, under my likes and activities was: “Plays My Little Ponies and has reached level 53”.

My heart stopped for a moment, my eyes widened, my mouth dropped, and I was absolutely mortified. I had friends on this site that I hadn’t seen in as many as 30 years. There were former employers, former educators, past relationships, old teammates, old roommates, and a host of other acquaintances from various points of my life. Most of whom I’d not had a real life conversation with in quite some time. So for them to stumble upon that fun little tidbit in my bio could definitely alter some opinions. The worst part of it all is that I’m not savvy enough to even know how to remove it.

My daughter swears up and down that it was an accident and she never meant to post that. But, she’s very bright, and for some reason that I’ll NEVER figure out, she has a predisposition for sarcasm. So if I were a gambling man, my money would be on a giggling smartass playing a really great prank on daddy.

Like I said, I’m not smart enough to know how to just delete that odd fictitious factoid from my NSA, and FBI files. And my daughter wasn’t home to explain it to me, so I did the next best thing. I utilized the minimal writing skills that I possess, and essentially issued a ‘statement’ on my page. I explained in depth, basically everything I’ve just told you. If you happen upon my page, it’s my daughter, not I who plays the game. Needless to say, this prompted countless responses, some of which I don’t think were intended to be humorous. Most read things like” “sure…”, or “whatever”, or “blame the girl”, and multiple other jabs and barbs. But some were like, “So, you’re a Brony?” I had absolutely no idea what a “Brony” was. This triggered my immediate WTH button, but I kind of dismissed it. (We’ll come back to that later).

My only saving grace throughout this was that two people went to the mat for me. My own sister in Baltimore and my sister-in-law in Chicago both stepped up and commented on the post. They both confirmed that during visits from each, my devious little daughter had loaded the app to both of their phones as well and had entered them into the Pony Realm against their wishes. I won’t identify which sis was which, but one couldn’t figure out how to delete the app, while the other embraced it and became a very skilled player.

Less than 72 hours later, I’m my usual elbow deep in diaper deposit when there’s a knock at the door. I shouted that I’d be there in a moment, but before I made it, I heard a vehicle pull away. I opened the front door, child in hand, looked around and saw no one. So I glanced down at my porch to see a package. Upon picking it up, I realized that the parcel was addressed to me. Not my kids, not my family, but me alone. This befuddled me because it was months from my birthday, I don’t know how to on-line shop, or mail order anything, and I MOST certainly had not achieved anything. I saw that the postmark was Chicago. Clearly it was from my wife’s brother and his wife and their new son, or some combination thereof. We didn’t know anyone else in Chicago, and I was pretty certain I wasn’t on Oprah’s mailing list.

I reluctantly opened the package and removed a grey tee shirt with blue print. I shook it and held it up to look at it when a note fell from it. The front of the shirt was adorned with a picture of one of the My Little Ponies, equipped with unicorn horn and everything. The print on the shirt read: “Ponies Forever.” I immediately began laughing hysterically as I bent to retrieve the note. I read what made it abundantly clear that my very humorous sis-in-law had acted alone.

A practical joke that clever, and that well thought out in such a short time, transcending North American time zones had to be rewarded. We were having a family dinner at our house the next day. So I wore the shirt without mentioning why as my in-laws came over. By the end of the meal, it was clearly understood why a 43-year-old man was wearing a Pony shirt. So at this point, my other sis-in-law took a picture of me in the shirt. We first sent it to our sis-in-law in Chicago, and then posted it to social media. Being a person who genuinely doesn’t care what anyone other than my children thinks of me, this was perfect.

Now this is where it starts to get weird. About a month ago, I started receiving messages via e-mail, text, and Facebook asking if I were going to attend “BronyCon” in Baltimore. At first, I just laughed it off, until some of these people started posting links. There was actually an article in the Baltimore Sun about the convention, which evidently was kind of a big deal in Charm City. I started reading some of the things that people were sharing with me and I got a little scared. Now some, like my sister, I knew were being funny, but other posts were from people I hadn’t seen or heard from in decades. Is THIS what they think I’ve become?!

Apparently, the “Bronies” have their own Facebook page and someone sarcastically suggested that I like it. I went to it just for laughs and initially had intentions of subscribing just for fun. Then I looked at the photos of some of the visitors to this site and realized IMMEDIATELY that these cats are for real!! It scared the hell out of me and I quickly not only left the site, but logged off of my computer. Paranoia set in and started thinking that now I was on some kind of watch list.

What I learned was that the Brony culture does in fact, exist. It’s a collection of grown men who are very much into My Little Ponies, to the point of travelling to conventions, dressing as their favorite characters, and swapping memorabilia. I realized after all of this just how naïve I really am.

So just to clear it all up, I firmly believe in ‘to each his own’. I will continue to rock that Pony tee shirt while watching the show with my daughters, and playing with the action figures. I’ll even learn the names of all the characters just so that when my girls are teens and need to talk, they’ll look back and remember that I listened and paid attention. BUT, under no circumstances will I be sharing a room at the Hilton with Skip from Iowa prancing about in his Pinkie Pie costume because we met on some web site. Oh HELL NO! I entertain my daughters; you still live with your mom and wear footie pajamas. There’s nothing kindred about us!

Oh, the things I do for my girls. Hope you enjoyed. Thanks for playing along.

Until next week,

Syd Nichols