Tuesday, November 09, 2004

All Creatures Great and Small

When I was older than eleven and younger than fifteen, I fell in love with veterinary medicine, a al James Herriot, author of All Creatures Great and Small . Even the description of plunging a hand deep into the innards of a pregnant cow did not dull my dreams of becoming a veterinarian myself, preferably one who lived in Scotland.

My parents, in a strange bid to force me face-to-face with reality, arranged for me to work on weekends for a goat farmer. This job required me to ride my bicycle a good twenty miles up and down rolling hills to the goat farm.

The goat farmer was a portly woman with stick-straight, frizzy, gray hair, which hung down her fat back. I can't remember her name, but I remember very clearly being introduced to a pen of small goats. I was given a knife and some clippers. She demonstrated how I was to trim the hooves of these smelly creatures. Then she left.

She left me with her son, a teenager or a young man who made me acutely aware of being with him, and not in a cozy, comfortable way. But I didn't have time to worry because I had goats to fix.

I caught the uncooperative goats and I trimmed and clipped and shaved their hooves, only drawing a bit of blood.

I can only remember one other incident at the goat farm in which the goat farmer woman had me help her shear the goats. I guess they were angora goats.

We brought the goat into the dim kitchen where the goat farmer prepared to shear the goats by stripping down to her underpants. They were giant, white, granny-pants, for which I give thanks. If thongs had been the fashion back in the seventies, I might have seen much more of the goat farmer than I desired. As it was, my adolescent self was horrified to view a grown woman in her underpants, especially a woman with a generously protruding stomach filling out her cotton panties.

I can't imagine I was much help. I remember nothing, other than the fact that the goat woman sheared the goats in her kitchen, while wearing underpants. Sometimes I think I must have dreamed that part, or maybe I dreamed the whole thing--the job, the bicycle ride, the bleeding goat hooves. I think I was paid in goat milk.

I didn't work at that farm for long. Soon after, I worked at a health food store and then graduated to Taco Time, where I learned how to properly roll a bean burrito or a soft taco.

I gave up my dreams to be a veterinarian somewhere along the line. The idea of reaching up a cow vagina didn't bother me, but the vision of that goat farmer woman in her gigantic white underpants frightened me forever.

And that's what I've been thinking about lately. Strange jobs. Paths not taken. Seeing people in their underpants.


Blogger Eyes said...

How interesting!

My weirdest job was working for a dentist. I slowly determined he was an illegal dentist from Pakistan with no training. And more than that, he started calling me jail-bait. He then hired another young thing -- of legal age -- and I'd find them in the x-ray closet making out. Eeew!! Not one instrument was ever sterilized properly! Makes me want to vomit that it took me months to figure it out and once I did -- and went back for him -- he was GONE.

8:22 AM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

Mel, you do tell the most fascinating tales.

Is it safe to assume the adolescent-you would have been less affected had the woman stripped completely to the buff while shearing those goats? Although it seems to me in that instance, you may also have been at least a little bit thankful for the minor coverage those gigantic white underpants offered.

Fascinating visual imagery. *shudder*

3:35 PM  
Blogger Marykay said...

I may wet my pants I am laughing so hard. The thought of giant goat woman in her granny panties....that is really something to think about!

5:56 PM  
Blogger elswhere said...

Waaah! Giant goat woman in giant underpants! Whee hee hee! Oh, that is the best.

The only thing I have that even comes close to comparing is the time I had a summer internship at a tiny publishing house and was supposed to deliver some drawings or prints to a cover artist and got the address wrong and after many subway problems ended up in what I swear was a brothel. I mean, I didn't end up *in* a brothel, but there I was *at* the brothel, in what I guess was the waiting room, in my sweaty old T-shirt, with this mailing tube of book cover art, babbling to someone I think was the madam about the artist I was supposed to give it to while very demure tasefully made-up women sat upright on couches around the edge of the room and men in business suits sat next to them, making conversation. They kept looking at me as if I was insane and eventually I left, reread the address, and found the right apartment.

But I think the goat woman beats that story.

11:39 PM  

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