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Ryan Dennis

Ryan Dennis is the son of a New York dairy farmer and a literary writer whose early essays were originally published in Progressive Dairyman.

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“Man, I just need 11 dollars. I lost my bus ticket and I need to get home to see my family. Must have fell out of my pocket, you know? I just need 11 dollars, man.”

He shifted on his feet as he pleaded. He made a show of impatiently looking back toward the ticket counter.

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“Tennessee Williams lived in this house,” the landlord said. She was a quiet woman in her 60s who had tried to shut the door on me, having explained that she wasn’t showing the room today. I handed her the check and said I was desperate and would take it sight-unseen.

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I can’t say no. Because of it I’ve ended up on top of a crane, on a tour bus with strangers and semi-kidnapped by a punk gang. It has led to some good stories. Many I use as party tricks. Someday, though, I suspect it might be the end of me.

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Before, I had thought mid-life crises had to look like this: You get a Mustang or a younger partner, maybe change your job or get a new haircut or hike through a remote mountain chain. Maybe you take up tango or change your name to Bastet, the Egyptian goddess of love and beauty, and then force everyone to call you that. My mother, however, did none of that in her middle years.

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I could have either chosen to participate in the culture around me or stayed in my room and watched Internet TV. It was a line that became my defense to the people I explained this to, and one that I often repeated to myself.

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They said there wasn’t a horse he couldn’t train.

They said the most obstinate animals are obedient to him.

They said a horse sensed his authority the moment he stepped in the corral.

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