If a person is known by the company they keep then my wife and I are glamorous supermodels, albeit the kind who have bad breath and a slobber problem.
We recently attended a regional fair. We have some friends whom we knew would be showing dairy cattle, so we stopped by the fair's dairy area to see how things were going for them.
I sauntered into the fair's dairy barn and found our friend Monica and her two grown daughters preparing their cattle for the show ring. The amount of primping and puffing going on in that barn was on par with the prelude to a high school prom.
Our family had tried showing dairy cattle when our boys were in 4-H, but we never achieved anywhere near the intensity and professionalism exhibited by Monica and her daughters. They were the New York Yankees to our Bad News Bears.
Monica is a very loquacious lady. The only way there would be dead air in the conversation would be if your hearing aid went kaput.
As she primped and preened their dairy animals, Monica talked about the amount of time and effort it took to get their cattle to this point. I also saw that showing dairy cattle involves quantities of hair care products that are normally associated with Lyle Lovett.
It was soon time for Monica's family to show their cattle. My wife and I made our way to the end of the show ring to watch the goings-on, taking care to avoid stepping in the "mementos" left behind by the stars of the show.
The tension was palpable as the contestants led their charges around the ring while the judge intensely eyeballed each bovine beauty. I wondered if the judge thought such things as "this is a nice Guernsey, but her switch could have used another dose of hairspray" or "that Ayrshire cow needs more mousse to control her cowlick!"
I found it amazing that Monica's youngest daughter, who is just a little wisp of a thing, exercised such effortless control over an 1,800 pound Holstein cow. And all she was using was a few ounces of leather strapping and a chin chain! None of our cows were ever that docile. Ours were likely to smoosh your foot into a fleshy pancake or gallop off into the sunset, dragging her hapless human handler like a rag doll.
Things suddenly became hectic for Monica and her girls. They were showing a couple of animals while others of their cattle needed to be in the staging area. Monica also had to deal with some sort of crisis, so she turned to my wife and me and said, "Here, hold this."
Before we knew what had happened, we found ourselves hanging onto the lead straps of a pair of Holstein heifers along with Monica's cell phone and camera. I was glad that Monica didn't also make a habit of carrying around a set of massive barbells.
So we stood and watched the dairy show as we clutched the lead straps of two impeccably coiffed heifers. The heifers were quite tame and extremely friendly. They were also very curious about us, giving us slobbery licks and snuffing at us with their cud-tainted breath. You know you're at a country fair when the arm of your shirt has a sheen of dried cow saliva.
Monica's family did quite well at the dairy show. Their cattle were awarded a fistful of purple ribbons, along with one red and one white ribbon. The purple ribbons were a novelty to me as I won only red or white ribbons when I was a kid. And everyone knows that a white ribbon is just a kind way of saying "nice try and thanks for showing up!"
In the midst of the controlled chaos at the edge of the show ring, my wife was also asked to hang onto the ribbons that had been awarded to Monica's moo-cows.
"No problem!" replied my wife. "I like purple!"
I had to agree with her, especially since I was so entirely unacquainted with the concept of holding a purple ribbon. I had to touch one just to see how it felt. I don't know how they do it, but the purple ribbons feel, I don't know, purplish. I had always suspected as much, but lacked the proof until now.
I'm not sure what the future holds for a cow who brings home a top award. Certainly the pampering will continue, along with more cattle shows. But what after that?
I'm thinking perhaps a TV commercial for Vidal Sassoon.