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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Excruciating Cows

My dad liked to take the family out for long drives to see the sights. We lived in Idaho. Most of the sights were fields, trees, mountains, ditches and fields. Also I should mention the fields with ditches bordered by fields and ditches. And more trees.Sometimes there was an elk or a bird in a tree. The bird was in the tree. The elk was wherever the elk was - but never in a tree. If the elk had been in the tree then I wouldn’t be writing this memory on fields and trees but on the cool elk we saw scaling a lodge pole pine, swinging from evergreen to evergreen in the wilds of Idaho one adventurous sunny day. That would be an essay I tell ya.

But, no. It was a bird in the tree. We would stop and look for hours. Hours at the bird in the tree which, for some odd reason, I could never see but my all my evil sisters could. It’s not that I was incredibly interested in the birds of southeastern Idaho. I was just not going to be left out of the future conversation where everyone else got to see the miraculous bird in the magnificent tree.

“Everyone had a great time on that fine excursion. We all wrote to grandma about the drive that culminated in the viewing of the flora and fauna of wondrous nature that was enjoyed by all- except Davison, because he didn’t see the bird.”

Lynette, the queen of the evil sisters would always see the bird right away and then she would run off to be the first in line for the bathroom to enjoy the freshness of a clean restroom, first for the square ice cream shack where she would bask in the creamy newness of the first scoop, or first at the snack counter where she would get her choice of candy and comics. I would be last and get soggy, sloppy, circus peanuts and Archie & Jug Head.


She later told me that she never saw anything dad pointed out - that it was all a maniacal ruse. The secret she says, spilling years old beans, was to acknowledge the beautiful bird or the mysterious moose or the chattering chipmunk which allowed dad to feel like Roger Ranger, and then to be on your merry way.

My children have learned this all too quickly. Driving along the country lane I point out to them the interesting cows alongside the road. They point out to me that saying “interesting cows” is like saying “appetizing barf” or “satisfying hang nails.” I, however, am getting excited with each and every new bovine and my wife feigns interest with a smile which is mostly because she isn't cleaning the livingroom. They simply say “Yes dad we see them.”

Me: “I really like the black and white ones. They look just like the cows on the commercial!”

“Yes dad, How lovely.”

Me: “The brown ones give chocolate milk, ya know.”

“And if you shake them you get a milkshake. Yes dad, we know.”

Me: “Birds!”

“Thanks again, Dad.”

Okay, they are just not impressed with the cow thing, so my wife and I will enjoy the view while they swap tunes on their devil machines. Sometimes we talk about them because they cant hear us anyway with those things in their ears. We can solve the worlds problems on one drive in the country.

“Oh look honey. Elk in a tree!”


  1. hi shauna here. I love the end, do a whole sketch about the devil machines, and being able to say things without the kids knowing. I like the wrap of returning to the "hey honey the elk in the tree" but prefer a shortened way to get to that point.

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