Cows of a Lesser Hue

Bob Dunlap


© Copyright 2018 by Bob Dunlap

Photo of a cow.

This story is true, for the most part.  Embellishment is part and parcel of the nature of this beast. Even though the general synopsis is the simple act of riding a motorcycle through a bunch of cows and the aftermath, it makes sort of a story with a little imagination.
Early one summer morning, while heading to work down a country road on my beloved scoot, upon cresting a hill, I saw that the road ahead was, alas, covered with cows.  They were big cows with big horns, and I slowed down in a big hurry.  Weaving through them, I yelled over to the nearby House of Booger People, “Hey!!!  Your cows are loose!”
Booger People exist in the boondocks of Albion, Pennsylvania. I student-taught at the high school there, and Mobile Meth Labs were part of the Advanced Placement curriculum, not the ideal location where zombies can flourish, if you get my drift.
Weaving safely through the assembled multitude, I got to work and told the guys about it, throwing out more than my usual share of F-bombs. We had a little time to kill, so having the State Police phone number magically memorized, I called them up.  A nice-sounding Lady Trooper answered, and I cheerfully said, “Howdy! I just came through a bunch of cows wandering all over the road on my motorcycle.”
Fleetingly, I hoped she wasn’t thinking that the cows were actually collectively riding my bike– I would never let any other human being ride my dear old Harley, without first laying down mucho dinero as collateral (which to date hasn’t happened), let alone a bunch of delinquent bovines, none of whom even possess opposable thumbs.
I continued, “Just thought I’d let y’uns know before somebody smacks into ‘em.” Once a Boy Scout, always a Boy Scout: we always and forever live and breathe the time-honored maxim, “Do a Good Deed Daily”, and I’ve certainly eaten my share of Brownies, but not the kind that you think.
Just a minute,” Ms. Five-Oh replied. “I need to file a report.”
I gave her an exact location. “They’re on Griffey Road, right on the north side of Conneaut Crick”, meaning “Conneaut Creek”, of course, but being a hick from the sticks, I’ll never be accused of being an urbanite metrosexual, although if some cowpoke really wants to marry another cowboy, or even their favorite cow, I would never pass judgment.  Uncle Willie was the original Sheep Whisperer, and he kept showing up at family reunions with Dollies in lace and Doolies in leather, and surely would have happily married the entire flock if his Mormon-centric tribe would only lighten up enough to allow polygamous bestial matrimony. Booger People are down with that stuff, for sure, but they also want to secede from the Union whenever there’s a full moon.
After a couple seconds or minutes, she asked, “How many cows were there?” Recollecting for a moment, I answered, “Well, I kinda rolled through them goin’ about 40 miles an hour at the crack of dawn, and they soitenly woke me up real fast-like, in a surrealistic manner of speaking.”
Synapses and dendrites started firing: Is it a murder of cows or crows? Slaughterhouses might annihilate cows, but if you waste a cluster-fudge of crows, did you just murder a murder? Do you rustle a consternation of cows or are they a more of a convocation? A “herd” sure sounds like what John Wayne and his band of 12-year-old Junior Cowpokes took down the Abilene Trail from Texas to Bumfarfanoogen, Kansas, back in the days when the Duke never had to press “1” for English. I pondered the question and finally said, “Hmmm, I think there was about a gaggle or so.” 
The Nice Cop Lady processed this information, and then dropped the $64,000 question: “What color were they?”
Well, ma’am, being a bona fide bumpkin, this grasshopper was raised in Big Country, and it also contained cows, making it Big Cow Country, if you want to get all technical. I’ve known both Cow Women, typically large-boned ladies who never learned to dance too well without being all liquored up, and have also known Cow Men, including one Cow Guy named Wingy, who processed information at the lightning-like speed of a narcoleptic stoner zombie.
Wingy’s favorite saying was, “What’re ya doin’ that for, Chuck?” After Chuck patiently explained why he was doing what he was doing, ol’ Wingy would wander away scratching his head, only to return in about twenty minutes and again ask, “What’re you doin’ that for, Chuck?” This partially explained Chuck’s penchant for drinking before noon, but Wingy is Chuck’s father-in-law, so Chuck started buying stock in Coor’s Lite soon after getting married.
Nonetheless, cows, in all their bovine glory, are no strangers to me, and I can unequivocally say that all the four-legged varieties I’ve encountered have been brown, black, or white, or a happily heterogeneous mixture thereof, with no real off-shades to speak of, although I have heard whispered rumors of reddish, rust-colored varmints living far across the pond in lands having nice-sounding names like Devonshireglousterderrycockaleekieandcrumpets, but rust is basically a sissy shade of brown, if you want to get down to brass tacks, so I coyly answered, “They were buff-colored.”
Buff?” the She-Cop asked, soundly mildly perplexed.
More of a dun color,” I replied, not really knowing if these actually were real colors, but because I had been hassled by one too many cops back in the wild days of my misspent youth, it’s now a bit of fun to harmlessly mess with the gendarmerie, a “back at ya” kinda attitude. 
I seemed to remember that in some western novels, the cowboy’s faithful horse was either a “dun” or maybe it was just dun-colored. It may also have been the color of the cowboy’s chaps, although the biker chaps that biker chicks and nerdy, laughable, wanna-be biker geeks wear are, in fact, 99 % black. In fact, the last pair of chaps I bought for my last sweetie were glossy black and fringed to the gills, and came with a warning label that read, “Warning! To be used on a motorcycle only! Not to be worn in a bedroom under any circumstances, nor are they to be worn as a lone adornment by a leggy blonde in a fireplace-and-candle-lit basement when playing billiards on a wintry evening, while listening to mellow music and sipping Pinot Grigio.”
Similar to antique mattress labels that warn the user not to remove them “Under Penalty of the Law”, some warnings are best ignored, Grand-Pappy always said. Grandpa also tried to warn me about the dangers of mixing handcuffs and Smuckers jelly, but as with many things in life, sometimes you just have to forge ahead while damning the torpedoes.
Along with discretion, patience has never been too strong a virtue for this humanoid, so seeking to finish the 20-question Git-Mo interrogation that this was slowly becoming, I concluded, “Hey, I gotta get to work. Just wanna let you know, because I’ll be headin’ down that road in about a half an hour while drivin’ a 13-ton bucket truck, and if we should somehow happen to hit one of them thar moo-cows, I might just go and fill up my freezer, no problem, y’know what I’m sayin’?”
Okay, we’ll check it out”, she answered and our repartee mercifully ended. In retrospect, however, my 20-20 hindsight started thinking of possible alternative answers to her question regarding the color of cows, including, but not limited to:
The Young at Heart:  “Purple, they were purple. No, wait! I’ve never seen a purple cow…” and we all know how that trite cow tale goes.  Although she seemed like a nice enough lady who also happened to be packing both a badge and a gun, I haven’t yet met enough on-duty cops that enjoyed any noticeable sense of humor.
Cheech & Chong: “Oh wow, man, they were like, cow-colored, y’know? I mean, like, the ‘shrooms hadn’t really kicked in yet, but dude, they were so cool! Man, it’s like they were starting to float around like all the animals in that Pink Floyd video, ya know the ones with the, uhh… animals? I think it was called, like, Pink Floyd Animals, yeah, that one! You know that album with the floating pigs, and a song called “Dogs”, you remember that one, with the dog barking, and oh wow, that dog sounded just like my childhood dog, Charlie, and…whoa crap, man… hey, wait a minute, aren’t you, like, a cop?! Jeeze, I got the wrong number! Sorry!” [click] “[F-bomb]!”
The Gay Divorcee: “Tsk! Well, let me see…one was a marvelous shade of mauve, another was mostly taupe, there were a couple in delightful hues of chartreuse, one had the slightest magenta tones, and oh! -three of them were lovely hints of fuchsia. Absolutely delightful!”
With all due apologies for the misogynistic stereotyping, because the person answering the phone was female, she would undoubtedly know exactly what hues these names represent, but because I’m a “straight and narrow” kinda guy, I genuinely don’t know what colors they are, or even care too much, to be brutally honest.
I once leased a Nissan car having the listed color of “teal”, but it was actually green, no lie. I also used to teach science, and am familiar with cyanobacteria, AKA “blue-green algae”, the stuff of primordial sludge. These are tough little critters that can live on Antarctic ice sheets, procreate in 400° ocean bottom hydrothermal vents spewing out methane and ammonia, and party like micro-rock stars inside highly radioactive nuclear waste water containment tanks.  As such, I equate the color “cyan” with “blue/green”, and I’m cool with that, but it’s ludicrous to believe that “teal” is anything other than a type of duck, let alone the color of a car, let alone a Nissan, let alone a former import formerly known as Datsun.
Sad to relate, when I rolled down Griffey Road twenty minutes later in my 26,000-pound shopping cart, the cows were safely stashed away, and it was back to eating fried kitten and ‘possum on the Barbie.
Although I have since scored a kilo of chicken feet, and am now pondering their many uses.                                                            

I have been a working class hero/dog since I first scraped paint off bathroom walls while working a summer job with dear ol’ Dad when I was 14. In my life, I’ve swung a sledge in a foundry, worked in plastic shops and porno shops, worked as a cable guy, a lab tech, and a field tech for the EPA. I also sold insurance, programmed computers, and taught piano to neighbor kids. For eleven years, I taught science, computer and basic engineering to high school kids, and taught carpentry to adults, as well.
After one non-fatal heart attack, I chickened out of teaching back in 2009, and returned to being a handyman. I bleed more than being a teacher, but the lessened mental stress more than makes up for smashed fingers and aching backs.

Contact Bob

(Unless you type the author's name
in the subject line of the message
we won't know where to send it.)

Book Case

Home Page

The Preservation Foundation, Inc., A Nonprofit Book Publisher