One of my favorite writers has retired her journal. But she has stopped by with an entry I was happy to share with you. Mrs. L
In the MOOod by quroboros [A Fool On the Lake]
While in college, I struck up a friendship with a country girl named Melissa. She was something of a mystery to me; the eldest daughter of a rancher whose speech, tastes and demeanor seemed uncharacteristically urbane & sophisticated. I could scarcely believe her farm-girl background as true until she invited me to visit her childhood home.
My doubts about Melissa’s rural roots vanished when, at the end of our road trip, we arrived at her parent’s ranch. The white plank house was modest, but surrounded by abundant hay fields and grazing pastures. The family scenes at Melissa’s house were reminiscent of a Norman Rockwell painting. Her mother wore an apron and baked bread, her younger siblings were loud & rambunctious outside, quiet & mannerly indoors. Melissa’s father looked every bit the cattleman she’d claimed him to be; a weather beaten man in overalls and a crinkled cowboy hat.
As the day progressed, Melissa’s father took me on a tour by Jeep, driving thru fields to locate his herd of cattle. He eagerly pointed out a huge Santa Gertrudis bull named Bubba and was clearly proud of the beast. Later, he showed me the bull’s papers and blue ribbons won. Having lived on a ranch myself, I engaged him in discussion about raising cattle and asked him all the trivial questions I could think of. But as the house began to fill with odors from the kitchen, I thought it polite to assist in the more womanly work of preparing a meal.
Everyone participated in the chores: the women cooked, the kids set a table and Dad stoked the fireplace. Such a classic, domestic scene reminded me of Americana personified, feeling oh so wholesome and untainted.. at least, it seemed so until we sat down for dinner. I'd been carrying a basket of hot rolls to the table when suddenly, Melissa steered me into a corner. She quietly whispered a warning to me: “Don't talk about breeding cattle during dinner or my dad will throw up.” I thought she was joking and said so, but my friend replied sternly, “No, I'm serious. He'll vomit at the table if you say anything about breeding cows.”
She offered no further explanation and moments later, the meal commenced. But Melissa’s strange admonishment stuck in my head and couldn't be ignored. I hadn't planned on discussing animal husbandry as a dinner topic, but now it was all I could do not to think of it. Just as when someone instructs, ‘Don't think about purple elephants,’ the die is then cast- lavender pachyderms will be in your thoughts from that moment on. I hid a smirk as we said grace while cattle wildly frolicked in my mind.
As bowls of food were passed around the table, the family chatted idly. But I couldn't possibly join in conversation because of all the bonking cows in my brain. How peculiar that a toughened cattleman could lose control with a simple concept. I imagined the dining room scene if someone unthinkingly violated this rule. Would this sturdy redneck actually puke his cornbread on their good china? Melissa’s very specific warning meant they'd had such a vomiting accident before. Perhaps they were forced to advise all dinner guests against talking of cow reproduction. How many others had left that dining room dismayed and forever wondering, just as I now was?
After my initial amusement, my Freudian instincts led me to ferret out the cause. Breeding animals wouldn't be a nauseating subject unless there were an underlying phobia. Never one to doubt a man’s sordid tendencies, I could think of only one thing to account for Melissa’s father’s repulsion. He must have had an experience that scarred his subconscious involving sex and cows. And though the idea disgusted me, it had to be sex with cows. Now I was feeling nauseous.
I didn't want to believe the kindly man who'd just passed me the peas was guilty of bovine buggery, but it seemed the only answer. He'd fathered five children, so obviously human sex was no great stumbling block for him. No, it seemed that logically, the only reason for anyone to suffer such a violent reaction was a past experience. The man wasn't just a cowpoke, but a cow-poker.
From that moment, it became the most unpalatable dinner I'd ever sat through. My discomfort was further complicated by the main course served: roast beef. I tried to work up an appetite for slabs of meat & gravy, allthe while thinking ‘Did he have a secret liaison with the animal now on my plate? Was Elsie a former girlfriend?’
I never got over that visual image and the implications thereof. After my visit to the country, the unanswered questions churned in mind for weeks: wondering if Melissa knew, if her mother suspected. And what about all those other poor, anonymous souls like me who'd been burden with that last second warning before dinner? Perhaps there were dozens of people out there carrying this lewd knowledge around with us, never daring to admit it.
Days later, I recalled a similar incident from a few years prior. I'd been dating a country boy from Kentucky. Reading Cosmo one afternoon, I blurted out an bizarre statistic from the magazine article. “This says that 75% of males who grow up in a rural setting have had sexual contact with farm animals.” I wasn't accusing; only mentioning it as an oddball bit of trivia. He immediately flew into a rage and wildly contested my idle comment. I sat dumbfounded as he ranted & screamed, “That’s BS! How could you think that about me?” That was the kicker- I didn't. But his over-the-top reaction made me suspect the statistic from the article might just be accurate. It mirrored the Shakespeare line, “Me thinks thou dost protest too much.”
For we ladies, mating is an usually complex process; an intricate dance of attraction, emotions and nuances. Physical gratification is often the least of our concerns. Most women regard sex as a package deal; a complete experience whereas men view it a need. As females aren't ruled by the same urges, we're often don't understand the male drive. With men, human sexuality doesn't necessarily need to be sexy.. or for some, even human.
There’s probably a lesson here somewhere, but the only thing that comes to mind is ‘avoid the farm boys.’
© HZH 2005
Thanks Holly. Stop by any time. Mrs. L