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A Tale of Two Cows

Dairy or Beef?

By Robyn ReischPublished 3 years ago 5 min read
A Tale of Two Cows
Photo by Doruk Yemenici on Unsplash

"The Ballston Bulls," repeated Diana Moore, rolling her eyes from the back of the classroom. "So what does that make us girls - cows?"

The other students smiled at this subversion. So did the visiting administrator. Diana was an excellent student, and as such she could get away with a little bit of sass.

By Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Ms. Eisner shushed her, but she didn't disagree. In fact, a righteous part of her had been struck by Diana's shrewd question. Cara Eisner wasn't much older than her students. She'd graduated from Ballston High herself just six years ago, and had yet to hit the quarter century mark of her life.

Cara didn't love the new mascot either. Still, she had to admit it was markedly better than the old one. After a half decade of protests, first by the students and then by the wider community, the Ballston Indians were officially no more. What bothered Cara about the Bulls, though, was just how spot-on it felt.

The boys who bounded through the halls at Ballston were wild bulls indeed. Most didn't bother look where they were going. Instead, the teachers darted around them, avoiding broad sets of shoulders and thundering hooves. The female students seemed to stay to the sides, except for the braver ones. They might approach the center for a moment, pulling a boy by the hand or bumping them on purpose with their newly widening hips.

One glance at the parents cheering at the football games - or at any athletic match, really - made this much clear: The Ballston boys were bred to be aggressive, large and muscular...bulls, indeed.

By Muyuan Ma on Unsplash

What about the cows, though? Cara wondered if Diana saw the irony in her own statement. A cow, after all, is the complete counterpoint a bull. Cows are meant to be gentle, maternal, and docile. Above all, they are generous. A dairy cow will spend her whole life nourishing others, expecting little in return.

Avery Smith from Ms. Eisner's first period class was a dairy cow. She even looked like one. Avery had knobby knees, round brown eyes, and a generous chest. She spoke slowly, with a low voice and soft edges to her words. She baked Christmas cookies and brought them to her teachers. Avery couldn't do math, but she was friends with everyone. Her herd was close, with matching bracelets and weekly sleepovers.

By Ben White on Unsplash

Nobody would dare call those girls bovine, though. They were too well liked. To be called a bull was praise, but a "cow" was an insult reserved for ugly, disagreeable women.

By Ms. Eisner's age, Avery would surely be married to her high school sweetheart. Perhaps they'd even have a child on the way. Her boyfriend was a broad shouldered bull named Steve Compton. Steve would work at his dad's car shop. Eventually, he would take the business over entirely.

Steve had once helped jump start Cara's hopeless '04 Chevy Trailblazer after school. He was a nice kid, if uncomfortably flirtatious. The Comptons would be a sweet couple. They were the type to host summer barbecues, organize canned food drives, and make freezer meals for new mothers. No doubt they would be an asset - a fixture, even - in the Ballston community.

By Jessica Rockowitz on Unsplash

Cara Eisner was no dairy cow. She was short and muscular, a bull in miniature. Cara meant well, but generosity came difficult to her - she believed in folks standing on their own two feet instead. Cara saw little appeal in marriage, and none in motherhood. She wanted to see the world. She wanted to write a great book. Cara wanted desperately, with her whole heart, to create something novel and special.

To settle down and raise children seemed like too trite an answer to the questions looming large in her young life. She refused to be ordinary.

"You're a beef cow, I guess," Melissa Bowers had laughed when they discussed Diana's comment over lunch. Melissa was an art teacher. She and Cara bonded over a shared affection for Love Island and strawberry margaritas, the way young single teachers tend to do. "I can picture it - Cara Eisner at thirty, no calves, roaming free across the land, grazing on nachos..."

Both women laughed heartily.

"So is Diana Moore," Cara interjected, still gasping for air. "Total beef cow! I heard she's applying to some colleges in Europe. When she's our age, Diana Moore is going to have some cool, creative job overseas and never come back for her high school reunions." Cara slapped the table. "Good for her!"

By Capturing the human heart. on Unsplash

Melissa pursed her lips and considered this. "Meanwhile, Avery Smith will be Vice President of the Ballston Parents League. She'll organize fundraisers and volunteer to coach the Ballston field hockey team. We'll be seeing Avery Smith around here for the rest of our lives. She might even eat lunch right here with you and me."

"Oh no!" Cara laughed in a sharp bark, hand flying up to her mouth. "Not me! I'll be long gone by then. You can find me in Madrid, or Bombay maybe. I'll be having rooftop drinks with the adult version of Diana Moore!" She shook her head decisively. "You can't milk us for the 2035 Ballston Bake Sale! Me and Diana? We'll always be wild and free!" Cara put her feet up on the chair next to her, leaning back as if to prove her point.

By Kinga Cichewicz on Unsplash

"They'll still eat her in the end though," Melissa said in a low voice.

"What?" Cara couldn't tell where Melissa was going with this.

"I mean, that's what happens to beef cattle, right? They don't get milked, sure. They don't have to birth calf after calf. They get to graze around the pasture. In the end, though..." Cara stared blankly as Melissa mimed a finger across her throat. "All I'm saying is, dairy cows, beef cattle...they all get consumed in the end. At least the dairy cows sometimes have names. I mean, Avery Smith will be somebody's mother. She'll have that."

"Unless her kids hate her," Cara countered. "I mean, what if they turn out to be psychos or serial killers...or just run of the mill assholes?"

Melissa frowned. "You're right, Cara. There's just no way to win. Being a cow in this world is udder bullshit!"

Jen Hammer, a local college student who coached the girls' soccer team, popped her head in the door at that moment. "Cara! Melissa! I need a favor. There's a heated debate going on in the administration office. It's about the new mascot. Do you think the girls' teams should be called the cows or the lady bulls?"

By Adam Winger on Unsplash

The three women thought they might never stop laughing.

Young Adult

About the Creator

Robyn Reisch

Robyn Reisch spends her days cooking, writing, and raising three gorgeous little hooligans. She is married to the world's greatest man.

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