Tuesday, September 18, 2007

U is for Udder

In 1998, life mimicked art when Fred Tuttle, star of the 1996 film Man with a Plan—the story of a Vermont farmer who runs for Congress because he needs a high-paying job with health benefits and no experience required—ran for Senate. He won in the primary against a multimillionaire originally from Massachusetts. The most famous moment, of course, was when, in a televised debate, Tuttle asked his opponent the number of teats on a Holstein. The flatlander said six. There are, in fact, four.

Upon winning the Republican primary, Tuttle promptly endorsed Democrat Patrick Leahy, admitting that he didn’t really want to win because then he’d have to move to DC. I’ve lived in both DC and Vermont. I loved DC, truly, but I have no plans to return.

This year I went to the Washington County (NY) Fair with my sister. Alison’s a speech-language pathologist, and one of her young clients was part of a family showing cows there. I learned from them that sometimes cows don’t have four teats—occasionally they are born with extra, which are usually nonfunctional and removed. Sometimes an infection can cause a teat to become nonfunctional, and again, it would likely be removed—leaving the animal with fewer than four. (Of course, you won’t see a three-teated cow at the fair.)

Alison’s client is a great kid. At age three, she’s already got both love for the animals and a clear, objective understanding of where animals fit into their lives. When given an opportunity to name a steer the family was raising for later use, she promptly christened it Dinner (like David’s rabbit, Stew; in that case, though, it was merely a threat). Dinner will be ready in another year or so.

So, here I am, rambling about Tuttle and teats and cows and steers and even rabbits, none of which is actually an udder. I know that. I seem to have to talk around the udder, not directly about the udder. I seem unable to look directly into the light of its milk-making glory.

But U is for udder, and today I must declare what U is for, and udder is an excellent U word, no matter how you get to it.


Helen said...

I like David's sense of humour.

There is nothing like a pair of udders to lift the curse of writing apathy (do udders come in pairs by the way? I must make sure never to run against Tuttle in any election.)

Sewa Yoleme said...

What an udderly wonderful post this is.

Speaking of county fairs, at one here in Florida they had a sample of some exotic stuff: dragon milk. What's dragon milk, you ask? Cow with short legs.

(And now all I can think about is my favorite Tim joke, the "I can talk!" one.)

Mali said...

This was wonderful.

It brought back memories of my father milking our cow "Blackie" and my sister and I, as little girls, running around squealing as he would aim the teat at us and spray us with milk ... straight from the udder!

PS. Now I want to know what SY's favourite Tim joke is!

Mrs Slocombe said...

lovely and peregrinative: of course I immediately thought of Fred SCUTTLE
is there no hope for me?

Deloney said...

Cows are so stoned.

Sewa Yoleme said...

OK, Tim's joke, as best I can remember it.

A man is awakened in the middle of the night by a phone call. "I can talk!" shouts the voice on the other end of the line.

"How nice for you," says the man. "It's three o'clock in the morning, you jerk," and slams down the receiver.

Five minutes later, the phone rings again. "I can talk!" says the gleeful voice.

"Seriously, I'm exhausted, I just want to sleep," the man says. "Please don't call back here again."

Ten minutes later, just long enough for the guy to fall back asleep, the phone rings again. "I can talk!!" the voice says insistently.

"All right, that's it. If you call again just to say, 'I can talk,' I'm calling the cops. Got it?"

This time it's the caller who hangs up.

About twenty minutes later, the man's phone rings. He steels himself for the encounter. "What?!" he demands.

The voice on the other end is quiet, almost plaintive, with this simple explanation: "I'm a cow!"