Monday, May 6, 2013

Bovine Beginnings: Purchasing the Cow Suit

I was a volleyball walk-on in college. I’m not talking intramurals here. I’m talking division 1A women’s volleyball. I make that distinction to provide a portrait of my teammates and friends. They were tall, thin, fit, and beautiful.  Thankfully beauty wasn't a prerequisite to be a scholarship volleyball player, but these gals were abundantly blessed with stunning looks and athletic talent. Five of us piled into my Chevy Citation to costume shop for a Saturday night Halloween party my sophomore year.

They wanted to go dressed as 1920’s flappers. Of course they did. They would make great flappers. I longed to be part of their crowd, but I just couldn’t see myself donning a skimpy dress, gaudy jewelry, and trashy makeup even if for a night of costumed fun. I was uniquely comfortable in my own skin, and sure as hell knew I wouldn’t be comfortable going to a frat party looking like an olden-days call girl.

The cost was also causing me hesitation because it was earmarked for the night’s low quality refreshments. I separated from the gang and began to explore the store alone.

I found the packaged costumes aisle and was contemplating a jailbird, a cow suit, or beer while I could hear them a few aisles over. My pals were giggling and gasping and shouting handfuls of, “You totally need to get that! It’s so tacky.” I peeked my head around one of the end caps to see if maybe I could pull off one of the dresses they were looking at renting. Negative.

There was a lot of flesh, fake gold rings, bracelets and necklaces, and heaps of shiny, flowing fabric. It wasn’t nearly enough fabric to convince me to join them. They laughed and pointed and took turns doing the mirror-and-dressing room two-step.

In addition to my aversion to dressing up like a floozy and parting with my cash, I didn’t want to go through trying on rental costumes. I wasn’t built like these girls, and had recently tested with the highest body fat percentage in our preseason assessments. I was horrified at the thought of being in the middle of a modeling hot seat. They gladly took turns in the center of the appraisal circle. I’d feel like a piƱata waiting to be struck down with verbal blows of “your chest isn't big enough” and “Oh weird. That dress totally fit me.”

Nope. No way. I slunk back into the packaged costume aisle to resume my beer versus farm animal deliberations.

My teammates found me moments later with their shimmering decor draped over their arms and ready to check out. They were kind in not giving me too much grief for wanting to do my own thing, but some were leery when I showed ‘em the udders. (They are quite shocking at first glance.) I never dressed for the masses before and wasn’t about to start now. Then when one of them mentioned the party had a free keg, my choice was made.

You make some choices during college that you expect to follow you, but I had no idea that was to be the first of many Cow Suit Saturdays.  

Saturday, May 4, 2013

I Love Cow Suit Saturdays!

I bought my first cow suit for a college Halloween party over 20 years ago. Today I have six. My experiences, perceptions and interactions when in a cow suit are understandably different than everyday life, but over the years, many have been more poignant and influential than you might imagine.

When people see my cow-print flannel, floppy ears, and pink udders, they smile. Then I smile. By the time our eyes meet, we’ve already shared a whimsical connection.

My suits and I have stifled the tears of cancer survivors. I’ve given motivational speeches to middle school math clubs as a lesser-known super hero, “The Cow-culator” and encouraged weary marathoners with signs exclaiming “Keep Moooving!” I was wearing a cow suit on September 11, 2001 when the first two planes hit the towers, and the last Christmas cards my mom sent before her death featured me as a trombone-playing moosical cow.

I would love to write a book of essays and true stories through the lens of life in a cow suit, but I'm busy, darn it! Just today my calf buddies, Finn and Jack, cowed for their mom and sister in a local fun run. Then we stopped at a hardware store for a plunger, grabbed breakfast, hit my credit union for some cash and jetted to their respective tee ball games.

As they handed me their outfits in exchange for team t-shirts and mitts, I thanked them for joining me and realized it was our third weekend in a row cowing. We cheered at a triathlon last weekend and attended the Portneuf Valley Environmental Fair in full cow before that. I told them, "You guys have become great little cows. It's like we've started our own cow suit Saturday tradition." As Finn (the older calf) handed me his hood he exclaimed, "I love Cow Suit Saturday!"

So, until a magical eighth day of the week arrives to afford me time for a book, this Cow Suit Saturday blog it is.