Tuesday, July 27
Sunday, May 16
“Does this suit make me look fat?” I jokingly asked, striking a Marilyn Monroe-esque pose.
“The cow is not supposed to talk,” Jeanie whispered. “And you’re a cow, so yes you look fat.” I turned to look at my reflection in the restaurant window. Instead of my usual frizzy brown-haired and high school senior self staring back at me, there was a cow—a seven-foot Chick-Fil-A cow, sporting an XXXL t-shirt with the words “Eat Mor Chikin” on the front and back.
Jeanie took me by my cow-mittened hand and walked me out to the dining area—a little mingling with the customers was customary before heading out to the street corner. I always found close encounters with the customers to be the most stressful part of being a Chick-Fil-A cow. Not all kids run with open arms to embrace the large fuzzy cow; a healthy number bury their faces in mom’s shirts, crying and screaming as if I would pass on mad cow disease. There must be a risk for lawsuit in relation to those issues becaus my boss would always stress caution among children.
When kids weren’t running away screaming, they pulled on my tail, hugged my leg, held my hand—parents love to take pictures of their kids with the cow. Everyone crowds around the cow, and the camera goes up. The photographer instructs, “Cheeeeese.” The first night I wore the cow suit, it wasn’t until about the fifth picture I realized: they can’t see me smile.
Four components made up the cow suit. The cow head was rather large—the size of, well, an actual cow’s head—and it was fixed on a base looking and intending to be worn like football shoulder pads. The wearer’s eyelevel came at the cow’s snout level, where there was mesh to allow for limited viewing of the world outside the suit. I could tilt my head back a little bit and look up into the cow head. There dangled a mini fan, much like the handheld ones you’d see moms holding at soccer games. You get used to the constant whirr of it after about 5 minutes.
Next came the body suit. Akin to a fleece footy pajama—but much heavier and more suffocating—this was pulled on with the help of a partner because of a back zipper and the limited range of motion caused by the shoulder pads. Us first shift-ers were coveted because second shift cows had to endure a suit dampened by the sweat of the first. You don’t even want to think about third shift.
Fuzzy cow gloves and furry over-sized cow slip-on shoes finished off the look. The gloves only had four fingers. I never understood this, and my five-fingered hands didn’t appreciate it.
Due to potential health hazards in the cow suit—mostly dehydration and claustrophobia-induced insanity common in amateurs—shifts in the suit were limited to thirty minutes. On the 355 particularly warm days out of the year in Southern California, an ice vest was added to the get-up. This keeps the body’s core temp at a non-lethal level and reduces the amount of sweat released from two gallons to one. And the cow always travels with a partner. That first day, mine was Jeanie.
“Hi cow! Hi cow!” Typically an insult, “Hi cow!’ was the standard greeting from six- to ten-year-olds, and it quickly melted my soul. As did the little girl who pressed my paw to her face and looked up into my eyes: “I love you cow.” When she released my paw, I moved quickly to wipe a tear from my eye. The tear fell untouched, the cow head preventing my actual hand from making contact with my actual face. I must have looked as if I were saluting my audience.
My time in the restaurant ended quickly, and Jeanie led me out to the street corner—Gridley and South, one of the busier corners in Cerritos. As I fumbled in my cow shoes and alternated my entire body from side to side in order to manage the limited peripherals, I realized why partners were important. If a cow fell, there would be no getting up without help.
“Do your thing,” Jeanie spoke under her breath. She seemed embarrassed, but I think she was jealous. I was the one with the hidden identity, and it’s amazing what one can do with a hidden identity. At that moment, I discovered what I like to call my inner cow.
Inner cow was capable of dance moves that I, my bovine-less self, was not: line dancing, thriller, break dancing, disco. They honked—I’d do the moonwalk. They waved—I’d give them the chicken dance. Then it was interpretive dance, ballet, Macarena, can-can. If you can think of it, I probably tried it in that 30-minute time span.
I like to believe that my dancing was awakening the desire for chicken sandwiches in those driving by. Half of me expected to see cars slamming on their breaks, making a quick u-turn and heading in to the restaurant. I could picture a “Cow of the Month” award because I was boosting sales.
But there wasn’t a lot of that. There was more honking. And little kids with their faces pressed against the car windows or sticking their hands out the window to wave.
The suit fit me well. It awakened something in me that didn’t care what people saw. Having a hidden identity was thrilling. If I could arrange it, I would make sure that every person could spend 30 minutes in a cow suit on a street corner.
I wasn’t ready to go in, and I wasn’t overheating just yet, but my shift was up. Jeanie took my hand and led me back to the restaurant. Again I was smiling, and though Jeanie couldn’t see my face, I think she knew: “You enjoy this too much.”
Saturday, May 8
Friday, May 7
Wednesday, April 21
Sunday, April 11
roomies. the runner's high didn't last too long--we are fairly sore today
just under 4 hours!
Tuesday, April 6
Sunday, April 4
Thursday, April 1
Friday, March 26
Road trips. I’m a fan of them.
I like the bump and sway caused by cracks and divots in the road. Occasional clicking of the blinker. A Constant, low roar of tires on pavement drowning out the radio. The radio forever plagued with static—a natural side effect of covering a lot of miles, constantly driving in and out of range of obscure stations.
This particular road trip was from Greenville, Ohio to Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania.
In the back was our bag of fuel, something to the tune of peanut butter, jelly, bread, cookies and juice boxes. In the front, the driver and passenger. Miles of road could go by where the only words spoken were those sung along to familiar songs found on the radio. There was also the casual, “Do you have to go to the bathroom?” …AKA… “I have to go to the bathroom.”
I always like to figure out the tone of the car ride before too many miles go by. Some people like to chat chat chat their way to Chattanooga, others prefer a comfortable silence while snoozing is yet another choice. Asking a single “What if” question is how I tend to gauge what to expect. The chatters will take the question and turn it into a philosophical, soul-searching conversation, the silents respond with an indifferent “I dunno” and/or a shrug, and the snoozers are out before the question is even spoken.
I really don’t mind any of the various types and have myself dabbled in the practice of each of them. The thing is, you’ve gotta know what your dealing with—otherwise you chat up a silent and annoy the crap out of them, you ignore a chatter and scare them, or you wake a snoozer and—well, never wake a snoozer.
“Hey Lindsey. If you could live in any state, which would it be?”
With a tinge of obvious stress (she's not a big fan of these kinds of questions), “I don’t like to think about that. I don’t know.”
“Okay, you just have to live there a year?”
I laughed. I turned up the radio a notch, sat back and enjoyed the blur of farm fields and trees in a comfortable silence. The occasional cow or funny sign would spark a conversation here and there. It was a good car ride.
Tuesday, March 23
Saturday, March 20
Monday, March 15
Saturday, March 6
Friday, February 26
Monday, February 15
An honest pen is hard to come by. A block often wedges itself between mind and pen. It catches the raw and revealing insight mustered from the core of our being. Until I find a way through it, I am incapable of writing.
No, I am not at a loss for words. Moreover, a million words are wrestling in my conscience at any given moment. I think it’s more a matter of my words being lost—lost, or perhaps cowering in some obscure corner of my thoughts. Clearly, it’s a case of page fright. My reputation—my very identity—is being held up at ballpoint. No words want to be forged under such pressure.
Yet it is a writing exercise like this that reminds me there is no reason to be pun-shy—where there is a quill, there is a way.
Huzzah! I’ve found the gap in the block. It is time to write.
Tuesday, February 9
Wednesday, February 3
After 8 o’clock, dinner options dwindle. The pot roast requires too much time, ratatouille takes too much work, and ordering yet another pizza costs too much money. Peanut butter and jelly is a quick fix; however, why have for dinner what was for breakfast and lunch? Most give up by now. Indecision will undoubtedly lead to starvation. That’s when the desperate raiding of the fridge happens; if it can be microwaved in a minute or less, it’s dinner.