Sunday, February 9, 2014

Moooved by Steve in Cow Suit

Last Saturday my cow suit and I were at Boston’s Cheers bar where no one knew my name. This Saturday I walked into a Pocatello brew pub and as if on cue “BIL-LAY!” echoed as soon as I entered.  Four male friends from college were standing by the bar with beautiful welcoming smiles.  I haven’t seen those smiles assembled like that for a long, long time. They not only welcomed me to the bar but into a time 20 years ago when they let me in their herd.

I was carrying cow suits for me and my friend Steve who is moooooving away this week. These buddies’ grins contained joy at seeing me for the first time in a long time, but also knowing that Steve was about to put on a cow suit.
I have known Steve since college. He drinks, smokes, plays poker, loves football, ultimate fighting, and me. Steve is like me in that he only holds judgment for the judgmental and that includes himself.  His love of mankind is felt in his presence.

This was a cow-culated suiting up because I wanted to write about Steve. Magic of the cow suit lies in the ripples it creates. Steve had two Facebook posts months ago that have rippled in my mind, and I think about him every time I do something nice for someone. And hey—I do a lot of nice things for people, so I think about Steve a lot of my days.  
Can I say that without sounding smug? That I do nice things for people? Therein lies a ripple of Steve.

Over a year ago, Steve posted a status update about buying lunch for a military service man in the airport. It was a brief yet reflective statement recounting how the military uniform ignited Steve’s gratitude for this man’s service and a desire to simply thank him by buying his lunch.  It made him feel good to say “thank you,” and he shared that on his Facebook wall.
Accolades from his friends flooded in for Steve’s gesture, but a few comments were made as to why he had to tell people about it. A few hours later Steve posted about how discussing his gesture of kindness and gratitude “cheapend the act.”  I remember those exact words: Cheapened the act.

Many times since Steve’s post, I have wanted to tell people about something nice I did, but I kept quiet.   He has made me question motives and altruism and kindness in myself and all around me.  The kindest people are the most selfish.   In 9th grade I was voted “Most Kind.”
The cow suit is selfish. It’s about my self-centered desire to feel joy and see smiles. Steve selfishly put a cow suit on for me last night.  Well, he had to put two of them on because his belly’s as big as his heart.  He agreed because I asked him. Because he knew it would make me happy. It would make him happy.

Steve & Billie in Selfish Bovine Bliss
Our selfish selflessness is captured perfectly here. My eyes are tired from travel and I wanted to be asleep, but I also wanted to do this for Steve (myself). Among his manly friends and their laughter, he wrangled his way into 2 cow suits for me(himself).  We both benefited greatly from each other’s selfishness and ours smiles show it.

As you move away Steve, I hope you dive into your new community like you have in ours. I hope you continue to do nice things for people and dammit, tell me about it!

Brag. Gloat. Share your stories of kindness because sometimes I think nothing good is happening in this world. The simple stories like the one you shared let me know I am wrong.  Your selfish need to prove and invent good in the world satisfies my own.   This world is good because of you, Steve. 

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