One year, the Lesson my siblings and I learned about life on the farm was how to make a cow. My grandmother’s recipe? One barn + four cows + one rented bull = cows. I don’t remember when in the summer the mating took place, but by the next year, we had one calf in a smaller pen in the barn, the other three having been sold off.
I loved that damn cow. I called it Bambi because I was a child but I’m also historically bad at naming things. I would visit his pen every day, taking him special treats like sugar cubes and carrots. Sometimes, I was allowed to help muck out his little space and I’d rub him down and sometimes Bambi would lick my face and I would laugh because cow tongues are insanely rough, like industrial sand paper, a cat tongue times 1000, but it was funny because I had a pet cow and he loved me (and my face was probably dirty anyway).
Toward the end of the summer I was told that Bambi was actually a girl and I was disappointed. I think that I was given this piece of information so that I might read between the lines, but I was even more dense then than I am now, so I didn’t think anything beyond how lame it was that he was a girl too.
Upon arrival the following year I did my usually checking-in on the state of my affairs: saying hi to all the animals, doing an inventory of all the games and toys, searching around for things I’d hidden the year before. A couple days later, we were having lunch in the dining room and I asked where Bambi was since I hadn’t seen him/her yet. I think my mother tensed up because she’d hoped that I’d forgotten but I have a memory like a steel trap and having a pet cow is not something a kid is likely to overlook. My grandmother paused for a second, maybe because she was taking the temperature of the room or maybe she was just swallowing. “Bambi’s here,” she said, generally indicating a dish piled with my favorite thing, bistec.
In my memory, I scrunch my forehead up in thought and slowly work through what she just said, trying to make sense of it. Many things were wending their way through my mind as I puzzled through the information, making connections between disparate ideas, then coming to conclusions and finally forming words.
“Bambi tastes good,” I said.
Today I Learned
… that bistec, a thing I have been eating since I had teeth, is (linguistically) a bastardization of “beefsteak.” God. damn. rabies. I hate you so much.