On Country Living

So, due to "circumstances," (read: "our roommate spent his rent money on pot and we got evicted") I now live in a historically black farming community in east central Texas with:

- Two menopausal women of color, one of whom is my boyfriend's mother

- the boyfriend in question

- a seldom-seen teenager

- three dogs, one of whom has Crazy Eyes and killed one of the goats

- the surviving goat, which was crippled when its hooves were burned in a wildfire but that no one has the heart to euthanize

- assorted wildlife (rabbits, cattle, scorpions, methheads)

I told an old friend about this, and she said essentially, "Well, of course. These things happen to you!" They do, and I'm tired of it. I'd give up all this "colorfulness" to live in an APARTMENT in a TOWN like EVERYONE ELSE, but the fates have decided against that, so instead I'm going to tell you about my encounters with cows and how I got sprayed with urine without realizing it.

Twice in the past month, my landlady (the non-mother-in-law menopausal woman of color) has woken me up to help her deal with a cow. Technically, a cow once and a bull once - I'm showing my non-country origins, but I don't know if there's an inclusive word that means "one of those animals of irrelevant sex." Head of cattle, I guess. The first time was fairly simple - there was a cow in the yard, and we needed to throw rocks at it so it would go away and not eat up the plants. Everything out there is trying to eat or kill something else and usually succeeds; an ornamental cactus was eaten by rabbits to my horror (imagine the fierce little rabbits that could casually eat a cactus), and then one of the rabbits was killed by a triumphant Yorkiepoo named Romeo. Landlady killed a mouse with a length of PVC pipe, Giant Camel killed a scorpion with a drain stopper. "It's the ciiiiiiiircle of liiiiiife...." but we were to determined to interrupt the circle at the point of "Cow Eats Magnolia Tree."

It worked. I always assumed that if you threw rocks at a cow, it would charge, rhino-like, and cripple you with a well-placed blow from its mighty hoof, but instead it climbed back through the barbed wire fence and wandered off. My part in this success was apparently so impressive that a couple of weeks later I was called to help with a bull.

Let me set the scene:


Chris, a homosexual struggling humor writer

Landlady, a menopausal woman of color

Cathy, also a menopausal woman of color and aunt to Landlady

Alfred, some kind of weird relative by marriage to Landlady, for whom he apparently has a thing

Dee (non-speaking), a well-behaved little girl and daughter to Alfred

Bull (non-speaking), a bull

Two more key details. Cathy has a) a tendency to speak incredibly quickly, b) the thickest Southern accent I've heard outside community theater productions of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and c) a mild stutter. On a good day, if she's pointed directly at me and there is no background noise, I can understand her every third sentence. Alfred thinks Landlady and I are romantically involved, and is weird about it. I resent being put in the position of telling a stranger that it's not that, I'm actually gay, just borderline homeless, LOL.

So Landlady and I walk along the edge of the pasture, past a dog's grave and a trailer with "welcome" spraypainted near the door in yellow, to Alfred's. We did not have A Plan, which I hated. They were used to it - apparently chasing this bull back wherever it belongs is easier than making whoever repair the fence - but I Wanted A Plan. I'll do anything if there's a checklist, but no one would Tell Me The Plan. As I eventually deduced, the plan was to gently and slowly annoy the bull into going in the right direction so that no one had to move rapidly or make a quick decision in the heat. I like this idea, but I still didn't know where the friggin' bull was supposed to go. So the upshot was that I walked around three yards to the left and slightly behind Alfred so the bull couldn't get around him as easily, while Cathy and Landlady drove around in a minivan and a Lincoln arguing about whether the bull would walk toward a car horn or away from it. While this debate raged, the bull jumped a barbed wire fence and got its hind legs tangled in it. I was the only worried person; everyone else just watched him kick until he freed himself. Eventually and more or less by accident, we got the bull back into the correct pasture, and I went home and ate fistfuls of stale Captain Crunch until my calm was restored.

So, you know, that's what I'm up to. I guess the urine-spraying story will have to wait till next time. That's what we in the business call a teaser.


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