Monday, December 22, 2008

In Teats We Trust

I know I am not getting out enough; I spend my evenings cooking and zoning out to primetime TV (it's free!), my afternoons playing guitar and doing crossword puzzles, and my early mornings talking to goats as if their floppy ears and misshapen pupils process my silhouette and the sounds that emanate from my mouth into a comprehensive personality with which they knowingly interact. I refer to them as "people" and "folks," apologize to them when I slice off parts of their hooves, and thank them when I return them to their pens. I am grateful to them for providing me with both a meager income and all of the near-expired cheese I can imagine consuming.

Biding my time at the farm is giving me time to work on my bilingual comedy routine; my audience is perfect: contained, relatively sedate, and a hair smarter than a chicken. They listen especially well when I wield a flake of alfalfa or a bucket of grain. The latter is the best; while my fellow goatherd sneakily fills the grain tray I can guide a flock of hungry kids in circles with an empty blue bucket to avoid her being trampled by extremely cute hooves. You see, I get very excited about the blue bucket as if there were grain in it, and the silly kids think it's true.

So I've done a lot of goat-related things lately. I have more goat friends than people friends. My right hand can now be officially described as "bigger than my left." My relationship with poop has become more intimate than I think it's reasonable to imagine. When I feel a nibble on my pants or have my hand slammed against a wall by the hoof I'm trying to clean, it's just another day at the office.

I talked to my brother on the phone the other day; he's still in that "disposable income" phase, the phase that would be heaven if not for the hormonal imbalances. He asked me why I had worked on so many farms (3), and why I was doing it. My response was, "well, I have to pay for food and housing and stuff." Something in the way he repeated what I had told him tipped me off: "So you mean you have to pay for housing and all your food and stuff??" He is in Fiscal Flatland; the third dimension of money is a nonentity to him; all he knows is that money is gotten and spent in straight, easy lines. The third dimension, obligation, has yet to be imposed upon him, and is finally coming upon me in ways I had hoped would never furrow my brow.

When I realized his cluelessness, I remembered being that way, giving my paychecks from Olsson's right back for CDs without worrying about gas or food money, much less rent money. Even after being bailed out by my folks for fiscal irresponsibility, it took a few years (and paying rent) for the concept to dawn. This last year I had a job and a living situation that afforded me plenty of extra money for both saving and spending proudly; I left that job and that house and that money (that three-month-long trail of money) to seek a fortune, and my fortune's embryo is a goat. Life is a goat. I'm not dismayed. I like goats well enough. My only hope is that my fortune's larva makes a little more money.

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