At the risk of sounding controversial, I am not a big fan of bull slobber. I am not that high on the contents of their nasal passages, either. That’s why I normally don’t allow bulls to coat me in the stuff. This weekend was the exception.
My wife, Marianne, is to blame.
She figured we didn’t have to put up with enough animals on our farm, so we should drive an hour out of town to put up with animals on somebody else’s farm. This farm was a zoo-type deal where you drive along a dirt road inside of an enormous pasture and feed all types of exotic hooved or feathered critters out of your car window.
She found the place on the internet and spoke with the owner on the phone who said we could bring carrots and what not to feed the critters or we could buy some feed from them. Nothing doing, Saturday rolled around and off we went.
It turns out, Marianne and I were the only two people on the Eastern Seaboard who didn’t know about the place. I base that observation on the number of cars that lined the dirt road leading to the entrance. I was all for turning back, but Marianne wouldn’t hear of it.
“Good morning” I said to the woman who took our twenty bucks entry fee. She responded with a hearty absolutely nothing. By that, I mean she turned and started talking to a worker beside her as if I weren’t there. When she deigned to acknowledge my existence, it was to ask. “You want to buy feed?”
“Don’t pet the zebras,” she said, with all the warmth and personality reserved for judges passing death sentences. “They bite.”
With that, Miss Congeniality made a motion with her hand and we were off. And, by “off,” I mean we made it about two car lengths before we were stuck in a long, largely immobile line of cars. After a while, and by “while” I mean in a little less time than it took for life to crawl out of the primordial ooze, grows legs and become a tax attorney for Metallica, we made it to the gate of the giant pasture.
I didn’t weep at the birth of my children, but I teared up at the sight of that gate.
We rolled about ten feet past the gate when the traffic stopped. A camel up to us. Marianne handed it a carrot. A man on a four-wheeler came up on us out of nowhere. He told us two things: Don’t feed the animals so close to the gate and you’re not suppose to feed carrots to the animals (which was odd seeing they sold carrots to feed to the animals). He was clearly a graduate of the same school of customer service as that delightful creature who took our money.
For his part, the camel didn’t get the memo on either rule, because he stood by us scarfing down the carrots Marianne snuck to him after the guy drove off. Terrible, the way camels think they are above the rules.
We spent the better part of a century, or at least it seemed that way, driving along the pasture road watching bovines of every make and model chew. Occasionally, a large bird would approach. Marianne tried feeding an ostrich a head of broccoli. It took a few pecks at it and wandered off. Same thing with emus, cassowaries and a big white bird with blue eyes. I didn’t feed the birds. I have a beak size limitation when it comes to the birds I interact with. Chicken beaks and goose bills are as big as I go. If your beak approaches the size of my hand, go somewhere else to eat.
All good things must end. So must bad, boring things, which is why I was filled with rapture at the sight of the exit sign. There was a enormous bull who, like the camel, had not read the memo about staying away from the gates. He watched us approach, clearly looking for a handout.
Marianne stopped the car. He wandered up to my window. I noticed right off that his muzzle was wet, and he had loads of drool hanging from either side of his mouth. I didn’t think a thing of it.
I handed him a carrot out the window. Down it went. I was in the process of handing him a celery stick when he sneezed. It wasn’t all that dramatic a sneeze, but what it lacked in sound and fury, it made up for in sheer volume of output. Just like that, my face and a good deal of the car was coated in bull effluvium, which is a nice way of saying slobber and snot.
In order to keep this article G -Rated, let’s just say I reacted badly, and he did not get his stick of celery.
Marianne pulled away in case a second volley was in the works. I like to think she was thinking of me at the time, but I couldn’t help notice she kept her head between me and the bull’s nostrils the whole time. Once we were away from the bull, she braked to a stop to assist me by laughing hysterically. She sobered up quick when I gave her a look that conveyed: “He who hath been covered in bull snot has plenty of bull snot to share.”
We rolled forward and made it through the exit without further incident.
We drove in silence for quite some time when we came to a red light. I guess she figured enough time had passed because, still looking straight ahead, she said, “Well, that certainly wasn’t in the brochure.”
It is bad enough getting slobber coated by a bull. It’s worse getting laughed at the whole way home.