Sunday, March 24, 2013

"Beef Cows" Don't Go on Vacation... They Die


(Told in six scenes)

Once upon a time, I was traumatized by my mother. Well, if we're honest, I was traumatized by my mother repeatedly. Take for example when I innocently asked her what a tampon was. That conversation left me in tears and vowing never evereverevereverever to have sex. Ever. This is not that story, though. That will come at a later time, because I actually just now remembered that it even happened. And, it is quite funny. So, why not share it with the public?

This story is about how I came to know the difference between a cow raised for beef and a cows raised for milk. I am not sure the technical, rural farm terms. I just call them "Beef Cows" and "Dairy Cows." If I'm incorrect, don't judge me. If I'm right, by all means, please praise me openly in public with confetti and parades.


Scene 1 gives some background for the typical relationship that I would have with "my" cows.

I grew up across from a cow farm. Every once in a while, I would get brave and cross our street to feed the cows a blade or two of grass. Then I would get grossed out as they cleaned out their noses with their long, slimy tongues and make a sound that was a cross between a wretch and a scream and sprint back to the safety of my yard.

I felt like me feeding the cows meant that we bonded. Sometimes the cows would go on vacation for a while, but then they always came back to eat my long blades of grass and taunt me with their booger-tongues.

Scene 2 is a conversation with my mother.

I'm not sure what age I was when I declared to my mom that I had named one of the cows "Buster." She went along for a few moments with me. Then, she quietly told me that the cows that I grew up mooing to and feeding grass were probably not the same cows that I saw before they went on vacation.

In my innocence, I thought, "Oh, poor mom. She just doesn't know things like I do. Poor thing. I will just try to show her that they are the same cows."


Scene 4 is my mission to inform my mom.

All the cows had tags on their ears. I knew that these were like a name-tag that you would wear on the first day of school, except at school, they didn't make you wear your name-tag as an earring.

I thought that if I could just make a cow be best friends with me, then she would see that the same cows live at the farm for always. Just like us. Except they didn't have a tree house. That would just be silly.

So, I braved crossing the street.

I went over to feed the cows a few blades of grass. I started referring to them by the numbers on their earrings.


Scene 5 is another conversation with my mother.

Although an entire year hadn't gone by, I wanted to make sure that my mom knew that I was about to help teach her something. My mom was my mom. She was an adult. Adults don't always like it when kids tell them that they are wrong. So, I wanted to prepare her for the situation to make it less awkward. It was the right thing to do, right?

Me: "Hey, Mommy. I have something to tell you."

Mom: "Okay."

Me: "Remember how you told me that the cows are different when they come back?"

Mom: "No."

Me: "You did."

Mom: "Okay."

(Clearly my mom had been just as concerned about this topic as I had)

Me: "Well, I am going to show you that they are the same cows."

Mom: "But, they're not. You can't show me that because they are completely different cows."

Me: "They are NOT! They are my cow friends!"

Mom: "Maybe these are your cow friends, but then they go away, and they don't come back."

Me: "No they don't! Friends don't do that!"

Mom: "Honey, we need to talk."


Scene 6 is me being traumatized.

My mother decided that it was her duty to keep me informed. In that moment, she made a decision that scarred me for years. Well, okay, that's not true. The truth was that it only freaked me out for a day or two, but in the moment, it felt like I was going to be sad forever.

My mom said, "You know how when we grill hamburgers and those taste good? Or when we stop and get fast food? Or when we have steak and baked potatoes? That is beef."

She paused to give me a moment to process.

"Where do you think beef comes from?"

Me: "From beef."

Mom: "Right. But, beef is made of something. Like how mashed potatoes are made from potatoes. Beef is meat. It comes from an animal. Do you know what animal?"

Me: "No....."

At this point, a dim lightbulb was being lit. I was starting to get it, but not ready to admit where she was going with all this "beef comes from animals" talk.

Mom: "Beef comes from cows. The cows across the street are not 'Dairy Cows,' that we get milk from. If cows are not 'Dairy Cows,' then they are 'Beef Cows' and we eat them."

Pause for processing.

Mom: "Are you understanding what I'm saying?"

I understood.

I swore off beef for the rest of my life. That lasted about a week.


And that is how I learned that "Beef Cows" don't go on vacation. They die. And then I eat them.

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