Friday, January 17, 2014

A Beauty Like No Udder

My friend Tamara is beautiful. No really. Like inside and out. In gym clothes, out-on-the-town attire, a cow suit or mom jeans. (Just kidding—I’ve never seen Tamara wear mom jeans.) She always smiles and complements people and is kind. Beautiful.
I’ve wanted to write about Tamara since I first considered writing a book on cowing back in 2011. I’ve not done it yet because…well, it uncovers what a shallow cotton-headed ninnymuggins I can be. I haven’t wanted to put that in print and I’ve struggled with the words.

We’ve both experienced some face-slapping “life is short”events of late, and the time is now to write about this cow!

Tamara joined our Relay for Life team, Cows for a Cure in 2010. I didn’t know her well at all, and I wasn’t anticipating getting to know her. She scared the heck out of me.

The 2009 Bannock County Cows for a Cure
Tamara and I are the ones in cow suits.
Look at her. Even in this silly cow suit, she’s beautiful. And it’s not just my subjective opinion that I’d cite here. She’s textbook beautiful in her facial symmetry, her sparkling eyes, and her disarming, perfect smile. She’s fit. She’s fashionable. (Trust me on this.) And her husband is all this, too. Even his teen mullet pictures adorning the stairways of his mom’s house…. His cheekbones and smile… Rawr! I may have a soft spot in my heart for fellow former mullet-wearers, but I’m pretty sure this guy’s a hottie, too. (To be clear: Tamara has never sported a mullet; only her husband has.)

Tamara possesses a physical beauty that takes me back to my pimpled, awkward high school self. I’d take a different route through the high school halls to avoid the cheerleaders. Or the older star athletes of both genders. I had those universal feelings of inadequacy, and I let Tamara be one of those people to summon those in my adult life. The few times I met Tamara, I figured she was out of my friendship league and dismissed all possibilities her being friends with me.
She was out of my league because I was being preemptively dismissive without even giving her a chance. A jackass suit would have been more appropriate.

It was 90 degrees and I was cowing around the track. I figured Tamara would be above these antics and unabashed irreverence. And then, when it was time for the team lap and we asked the herd who wanted to put on a suit, she was the first one who jumped at the chance. Whoa. Seriously?
The 10 seconds in which she raised her hand and jogged toward the cow suit bin were some of the most impressionable of my life. OF MY LIFE. We were the only two on the team for a while running around in udders. She challenged everything I had invented about her. She challenged my notion that I was not a judgmental person. She uncovered that I still had some insecurities I needed to address. By insecurities, I mean “idiocies.”

In my late-30’s I realized how much judgment and how many preconceptions I still carried with me. That’s a tough steak to chew. I love it when people surprise me like Tamara did. She’s down to earth and damn fun. I love meeting her for lunch. We both love Erasure, and we both love dancing the night away. And of course…We both love to cow!
Our times at Relay for Life are a lifelike mixture of joy and sadness. We spend those nights smiling and laughing and crying and remembering loved ones. We know some of each other’s stories of losing people to cancer, but not all of them. The knowing people’s stories isn’t important. Just being there and being together with the Herd is.

We’ve all got something. Something tragic. Something fantastic. Something to lament and something to be grateful for. And I have something beautiful in my sweet cow friend Tamara.

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