I regret to inform you that Harry Stall Yen has died. If you don’t know who I am talking about, it’s only a matter of time. His life might not have been legendary, but his death has garnered him a great deal of attention. He was my father.

Now it’s true, my father was flawed. He never achieved anything of merit, worked a modest blue collar job, and possessed a fancy for gambling (much to my mother’s chagrin). But I treasured him, which is why I’m here: to set his story straight.

My parents met in ’83. My mother was an agricultural major earning her way through University as a stable hand at the local farm. Whilst pitching hay, their eyes met, and it was love there and then, or so my mother claims. Mom loved his thick black hair – luscious locks my mother always wished I’d inherited from him. After a brief courtship, I was conceived – out of wedlock. Grand-Pappy wouldn’t hear of his grandchild being a bastard, and so they eloped. They walked their way to Vegas and were married in one of those two-dollar neon chapels that played the wedding march on an electric keyboard. Back home, they bought up a modest farm house with a barn out back. They loved the countryside, went riding nearly every day together until Mom grew too pregnant to mount. And one stormy August evening, I was born.

Determined to make my arrival then and there, without doctor assistance, mind you, my mother waddled out to the stable to fetch my father and together, with Dad coaxing her gently, I made my grand entrance. “Just like baby Jesus,” my mother used to say, “in a manger of hay and horse manure.” Daddy’s little girl from the moment I opened my eyes. Yes, I grabbed his muzzle and he snorted horse spit all over my cheeks. And the rest, as they say, is history…

I am twenty-six years old now, and my father is dead. Losing a parent, let me tell you, is never easy. But no one expects to have to go through it publicly, having to defend one’s own integrity to boot. My father was murdered just shy of a month ago and ever since I’ve been in the public eye, scrutinized by strangers everywhere, making headlines in The Enquirer, then The Star, and every other tabloid serving the world wide web. I’ve heard it all, “A sad ploy for attention,” a reporter on TMZ called me. After all, these days, it seems nearly anyone would cut out their own kidney for a few seconds of celebrity. But not me!

I ask you, honestly, what mad individual would actually want to be photo-shopped with ears on the top of my head, a mane, a tail, a snout, and appear that way on the front page of every tabloid? In a span of a few days, I’ve joined the likes of Octomom, Jon-Kate-and-their-eight, the cabbits, and MJ way back when during his notorious stint in the hyperbaric chamber – part of the daily celebrity spin cycle and comedy fodder for every late night talk show host. And it’s trash, all of it.

I’ve spent the bulk of my life defending myself and my mother. When I was a little girl none of the politics of our family mattered to me. I had a family, just as my peers had. And I was loved. I don’t remember the precise moment I began to realize I was different. Perhaps it was the free pony rides in pre-school. Or when, instead of getting into the family Buick LaSabre, we saddled Daddy and rode him to the store instead. Perhaps it was the unusual looks I garnered from friends when I had them over for sleepovers. They were good sports about it, at first, helping me to clean out his stall, and prepare him supper. They’d hold the bale of straw out for him while I fed him the assorted greens. Daddy was a vegan. I wanted to believe his affinity for vegetables was what set him apart from other fathers, and not that he had a mane and a tail. I didn’t know any better.

Invariably, it was rare for me to keep a friend for very long. I wasn’t lonely though. I had a good father. Together we competed in various equestrian competitions. Course, he had more awards for ‘Best In Show’ than I had report cards. These things certainly made me unique from other girls my age. Few envied me. In fact, by my tweens, I’d become the butt of all barnyard-themed jokes. Senior citizens pointed and balked when Dad gave Mom and I a sleigh ride one Christmas. And my undergrad peers ostracized my when my father helped me move into my first dormitory and he galloped down the corridors yee-hawing!

I grew accustomed to my mother’s lectures. She’d say things like, “Be a good girl and ride your father to school” or “Some children would be lucky to have a horse for a father – don’t you go being ungrateful!” and “You respect your father and don’t make him swish his tail at you, young lady!” I thought it was normal. How was I to know that branding your father’s horseshoes was not a rite of passage for most daughters?
I remained in denial until sophomore year. I majored in biology and the biological father argument was wearing thin. No matter how desperate I was to maintain family unity, I couldn’t play along any longer. I couldn’t be his child. I was either adopted, or I had a dead-beat human father and my mother was just fucking nuts! I approached my mother, set on learning my true paternity. I consulted my birth certificate, demanding to know just who Harry Stahl Yen was – sure this man was my real father.

That quickly went bust when she explained it had only been a clever pen name, used to keep the authorities at bay. She was an educated woman too, after all, and knew the dangers of putting my father’s real name on the certificate. The men in parliament might raise an eyebrow if they saw a man–ahem horse–named Hairy Stallion was on record as having fathered a child. My mother’s argument was always that she did what was best for the family. I know what you’re thinking: Science has come a long way, what with cloned sheep and bunnies glowing in the dark, perhaps such things are impossible. But I was born in the eighties! And if you took one look at me, well, you’d think the very things I did, after the fact, forced to succumb to despair. Oh how many nights I spent sullen and suicidal in my dorm room, dissolving Ativan tablets under my tongue. No one understood what I was going through. And the worst of it? One night, searching the internet, I happened across my mother’s blog – appropriately titled: My Husband the Horse. Hugely popular amongst the Beastiality community! It was then that I realized my mother couldn’t have understood me if she tried. She loved the beast! And she had problems of her own…