When I was a kid, I didn’t fit in. This wasn’t just a suspicious feeling of not fitting in, but a full fledged, not fooling anyone, home-made dress and a bowl hair cut made from a real bowl brand of not fitting in.
My parents didn’t believe in prime time TV, or, watching more than an hour a day of PBS, and with two younger siblings and a pair of rabbit ears, that usually meant we were watching Sesame Street. Or soaps, when I was lucky. And I must admit, General Hospital, during its Luke and Laura years, was amazing!
But then again, I didn’t have much to compare it to.
Unlike every kid my age, I had not seen the Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Brady Bunch or Charlie’s Angels. I did not own a Barbie. We were, however, allowed to watch The Muppet Show AND The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights.
But that was when we HAD a TV.
This meant 99.9% of pop culture references went well over my bowl cut.
My parents’ intention was to broaden my views and make me a well-rounded, independent spirit. All it did was make me fetishize Barbie, have an inappropriately intimate relationship with all things Disney and Muppets, and help me feel comfortable outside the social norm.
We lived on a little farm on the outskirts of a small town, and grew or made most of our food. Every year I watched in wide-eyed disbelief as a strange man inserted his entire arm into our female cow and artificially inseminated her. When the baby boy cow was born I watched in wide-eyed amazement as he was castrated. In the fall, the mobile butcher would show up and in wide-eyed amazement AND disbelief, I watched as the cow was butchered.
One year the butcher showed up at eight a.m. Waiting for the school bus and holding my home-made lunch in a paper bag, I watched him work from a safe distance so as not to get blood on my home-made dress.
I’m sure you know where this is going.
The cow was slaughtered – I think his name was Arby. All of our cows were named after fast food resturants we never went to. He was hung upside down from the back of the truck and bled. His hide was stripped off and piled in a heap nearby, and his head removed. His guts had just been pulled out into a big bucket on the blood soaked ground when the school bus pulled up.
Being a small school system, every kid from first grade through high school who lived on that side of our town rode the same bus. I was the third stop from the last.
I can still picture the bus tilting towards my house as every kid on my side of town crowded into the passenger side windows to get a better look. I can still hear the sound of rusty metal shocks squealing under the strain of its suddenly lopsided load. In my memory now, it’s quite cartoonish. At the time however, I was SO out of touch with the average kid, that I had NO IDEA what the big deal was. Where else would you get your meat?
After that day, I became known as … The Dead Cow Girl.
Welcome to my life.
(edited by Denae Handy. Editor of my future best seller.)