The Rhinestone Pony walked into the bar.
Well, he walked through the swinging doors and into the interior of the saloon, he didn’t walk into the bar. That would be clumsy and not cool. The Rhinestone Pony was cool. Super cool.
He was covered in fricking rhinestones, not some shitty bedazzling job, either, his natural coat was made of fricking rhinestones, so yeah, he was pretty awesome. Also sparkly.
His name was Janet.
Yeah, that’s right, fricking Janet, no, Janet isn’t a girlpony’s name, asshole, and all that stuff they say about boyponies with names that ponies just think are girlponies’ names but are really perfectly ponygenderneutral names and totally cool, nay – neigh – perfectly awesome for boyponies, being angry and stuff is just bullshit, who the fuck do you think you are, he will hoof your ass up and down the street, you-
Er, whatever, he is totally cool with it, and not so deeply insecure about it that he is possessed of a wellspring of deep and unpredictable rage based on having a ladypony name and being all sparkly and being constantly subjected to cruel remarks by unimaginative homophobic ponies since before he was knee high to a pony keg.
He is cool.
(But maybe don’t make fun of his name, just, you know, just don’t).
All of the ponies sitting in the Plastered Pony Saloon noted his arrival, but without making any overt signs. There was just a subtle shift in the energy of the room. The pony behind the bar gave him a nod, and the duck playing the piano missed a note but then recovered and carried on playing “Camptown Races.”
Janet clip-clopped up to the bar. The barpony was already racking up the Rhinestone Pony’s usual – feedbag of sweet grass, oat chaser.
“What’s the news, J?”
(The Rhinestone Pony was totally not insecure about his name being Janet, it was just because he was so cool that other ponies were naturally inclined to give him cool nicknames and stuff. And never, ever to call him Janet. But only because he was so cool).
“What they print in the papers, Bill.”
The Rhinestone Pony was cool like that.
Bill the barpony let out a little nervous laugh.
“Right you are, J. Well, you let me know if you need a refill.”
The Rhinestone Pony gave a cool, barely discernible nod, and started working on his feedbag.
The duck was coming to the end of “Camptown Races,” and was sweating a little – well, metaphorically sweating, being a duck he didn’t literally sweat – because sometimes it was almost like his wingtips had a mind of their own, and ever since Janet had walked in the door, the duck had had “Rhinestone Cowboy” running in his head, and he was afraid when he finished this song he would unconsciously start playing it unless he though of another song, but it was hard to think of a song when he was already thinking of a song, so he just kept nervously playing the “doodah, doodah” part over and over.
Think, Leroy, think! Like a Rhinestone…no, dammit, no! Um, um, um…cowboy…ahhh, nooo, um oh fuck….
Just before he lost it, he launched into “Some people call me the space cowboy….”
The Rhinestone Pony remained at his stall at the bar, and Leroy was able to unclench his bill a little bit.
Janet might have had some trouble in the past with dudeponies not respecting his shiny not-ladypony-named awesomeness (not that those dudes had had much not to say once they caught a rhinestone-encrusted hoof to the temple, not that Janet had anger issues, or anything, he was cool, and any hoofings that happened were hoofed in a totally cool, non-disturbed fashion). However, Janet had never had any trouble with the ladyponies. Think of it as the Liberace Effect – just don’t call it that out loud, Janet might not take too kindly to it, not that he has anger issues, mind you.
Those ladyponies loved that tough face and shiny exterior and that heart that they imagined must be sweet, with such a pretty exterior and such a sweet name.
A few ladyponies standing around a table giggled and shivered their flanks coquettishly, but the waitresspony made no show she had noticed the Rhinestone Pony’s arrival. She had been around the stables a few times, and she knew all about lady-named ponies with pretty exteriors, and how more often than not their insides were not nearly so sparkly. Give me a plain old gray pony with a nice boring name like “Clover” or “Mr. Pony” any day, she thought as she refilled the water troughs.
The Plastered Pony was the only bar in Ponyville where the Rhinestone Pony ever went for a feedbag. The Plastered Pony was the only bar in Ponyville where the Rhinestone Pony was allowed to go for a feedbag. He had been ponybanned for ponylife from every other ponyfreshment ponystablishment within a hundred miles of the town limits. He wasn’t even allowed in the Pitiful Pony anymore, and that place cut its oats with sawdust and served any ponytrash that trotted in out of the ponygutter.
The Rhinestone Pony knew he was merely misunderstood…and he contended that many of those ponypatrons had hoofed themselves in the head. (In point of fact, he seemed to be perplexed by their strange self-destructive behavior, as he was often heard to ask those unfortunate ponies “Why do you keep hoofing yourself? Why do you keep hoofing yourself?”as he stood over them, their hoof gripped in his hooves, trying, one would assume, to make the poor masochistic ponies stop hoofing themselves repeatedly about the face and temples, one would further assume in a fit of remorse for having been so insensitive to have said something like “Nice sparkles, Jan.”)
The Rhinestone Pony polished off his sweet grass, slammed his oats, and knocked a hoof on the bar to signal for another round. Bill the barpony filled his ordered quickly and quietly, gave Janet a quick, respectful nod, and returned to prepping parsely garnish in amounts that really exceeded any likely demand, but always best to appear busy lest the Rhinestone Pony try to engage your idle ponyself in conversation and take offense at some benign remark. Bill had been tending the bar at ponydives for a lot of years, and he knew what was what. He preferred not to be overwhelmed by a sudden desire to hoof himself repeatedly about the face and temples, thanks very much. Keep that parsley coming.
The Rhinestone Pony, all sparkly and silent, and let’s not forget, cool, kept his attention on his feedbag.
The other ponypatrons had relaxed just enough to resume some quiet conversation, though of course no one mentioned rhinestones or ladypony names or pony names of any kind, for that matter.
Leroy, in another moment of Rhinestone Panic, had gone back to playing “Camptown Races.” He just couldn’t think of another song, though he knew hundreds. He had played the space cowboy thing at jam-band lengths before he was at last able to recall the song he had been playing immediately before. He had the paranoid fear that somehow the Rhinestone Pony would know Leroy’s musical falterings were about the Rhinestone Pony, and somehow Leroy would find himself developing hooves with which he might be made – er, mysteriously choose – to hoof himself repeatedly about the bill and temples.
Oh, man, oh, seriously, I have got to think of another fucking song, what if he hates this song, what if he demands that I play something new and I just can’t think of another song, come on, um, Duck, Duck, Goose, no, fuck, that’s a game, um, Ducks Don’t Have Hooves, no, shit, c’mon, Leroy, don’t crack, oh, man, I should’ve listened to my wife when she told me not to take this gig. “It’s a pony saloon, what could go wrong? Just a bunch of nice ponies called Sparkles and Rainbow and Lady Sunshine, standing around eating clover and talking about their last gig working some six-year-old girl’s birthday party. I will play some happy songs on the piano, make the occasional quack joke, easy money.” Genius, Leroy. Now I can’t play any song in my repertoire that even comes close to mentioning sparkles…and forget about ‘A Boy Named Sue.’ Hey! That’s a different song! That I can’t play. Leroy, keep it together….birthday parties! They sing songs at those!
Leroy launched into “Happy Birthday.” Not a long song, but hell, it bought him a little time to think of another song without potentially driving any ponies into a hoofing rage with an infinite loop of doodah, doodah.
The Rhinestone Pony, glittering under the bar lights, finished his second feedbag, knocked back the last of his oats, nodded to Bill the barpony and his parsley, and clip-clopped back through the swinging doors of the saloon and into the glittering sunlight, where he sparkled like a suncatcher as he galloped off into the distance.
The patrons of the Plastered Pony heaved a collective sigh of relief that no one had come down with another case of hoof-yourself-itis in the Rhinestone Pony’s presence.
The duck played on.