For most kids, it’s Clown Fear that follows their footsteps in life, plaguing dreams with big floppy feet and glaring, painted faces.
For me, it was Cow Fear.
Cow Fear stemmed from a well-meaning (but ill-advised) attempt by my elementary school’s inner-city vice principal, Mrs. McNamara, to introduce the urban kids to a bit ‘o country. She thoughtfully arranged for a farmer to truck in Bossy the Cow to demonstrate, right there on our concrete schoolyard with nary a blade ‘o grass in sight, where milk REALLY came from (in itself, a horrible revelation when the source of Borden Milk’s hitherto-inviting boxes was revealed, causing many a child to refuse milk from then on) and what a cow looked like in the flesh.
ALL that was lost on me: the unspoken lessons were clear to a very small child. I.e.: (1) milk was unsafe, considering its terrible source INSIDE THE BODY (2) the cow was at least four children high, making it easily a tower of terror (3) those BIG TEETH were surely NOT vegetarian, no matter what lies the authorities told, and (4) those BIG HOOVES were made for STOMPIN’ little feetz.
Rocky…Up Close ‘n Personal…
Given all this – and the terrible rumors which were started by SOMEBODY when Bossy made her appearance in the schoolyard (causing the entire schoolyard to take a step back when at end of lecture kids were invited to ‘milk the cow’) – it’s no wonder latent Cow Fear plagued my youth well into adulthood.
It also didn’t help that on a hike at Point Reyes a mean joke was played upon my Cow Fear by my unwell-meaning spouse, to wit: pointing out, when we reached the pinnacle of the trail, that “somebody had let the cows loose”. (…Had this urban kid ever heard of ‘free-range’?? Not then!)
AND it didn’t help that my pell-mell screaming journey back down the steep trail (accomplished in 5 minutes as opposed to the 30 minutes hiking UP it) warning fellow hikers at full volume (“The cows are loose! The cows are loose! Run for your lives!!!”) earned me brownie points in the ‘stoopid beliefs’ category (YouTube hadn’t been invited yet, or likely this would be on the Internet for posterity).
So my decision this year – to do something AWESOME for my 58th birthday and Conquer Cow Fear – resulted in an unusual Birthday Request to the Peanut Gallery (a.k.a. Bill).
Now, I’m sure Bill was expecting something more mundane than “I want to visit the neighbor’s Longhorn Ranch and PET THE STEER”. But in the spirit of looking forward to another jolly experience he went ahead and made an appointment for a personal, up-close encounter with Rocky the Longhorn, resident pet at Neighbor Dave’s ranch.
…where’s the beef???
A frightening beginning to the encounter was when Dave pointed out that the longhorn herd was currently at the top of a hill and he’d call ‘em down. When he called out, there was literally a STAMPEDE. As I watched the herd barreling towards me, Rocky in the lead (getting BIGGER AND BIGGER AND BIGGER), all I could think of was Mrs. McNamara and the long-held admonition that cows (and steers) were VEGETARIAN. (If so – why was there such a rush to meet ‘n greet? Sure looked like a dinner call to me … and likely I was gonna be First Course, Birthday Gal or not…)
Turns out Dave was holdin’ the goodies (alfalfa blocks) and Rocky and Gang were no strangers to being called down for a treat.
Close-up and personal, Rocky was even MORE awesome than miles way. His longhorns banged the fences constantly. His eyeballs were as big as a BAG of marbles. And his terrible teeth seemed a lot less terrible when Dave explained that Rocky had no upper teeth and dentures weren’t an option.
Farmer Dave and Rocky
I was instructed on how to feed the beast, Rocky rolled his eyes lovingly at me – and suddenly Cow Fear was replaced by awe.
So this is what I did for my 58th birthday.
I touched a steer and I LIKED IT! (Katy Perry – eat your heart out!)