My answer is that my upbringing did it. Not in the sense that I was surrounded by shoes, purses, fashion and bling as I grew up but in that I was surrounded by hands covered in blisters, cow and pig poop and castrated balls and the hardest work on Earth. I grew up on a farm. We were poor. And we were idiots.
This wasn’t just any farm either. This farm was run by us but owned by a wealthy businessman. Did you read that word correctly? A businessman. Someone good with money.
That doesn’t necessarily translate into him being a good farmer. He was the nicest guy on earth but a good farmer he was not. And he didn’t live on the farm he owned so we always had to wait for decisions and stuff…which is hard when a cow is calving or a field needs raking.
What I mean by that is that one day – I kid you not – the hay field needed to be raked again. To turn the rows of hay over the other way so they sun could dry them out more so we could bale it. I know what you’re thinking. Get the tractor, hook up the rake and go to town.
Yes, well…that’s how real farmers would do it. But after the first raking that had been done a few days ago – the rake broke. Mr. Owner Businessman didn’t want to spend the money on a new rake for a farm he didn’t even live on so he told us to rake it by hand with pitchforks. He also didn't want to bother any neighbors so we weren't allowed to borrow a rake from anyone.
Oh hell to the yah. I just said “rake it by hand with pitchforks”. A f*cking field of hay people. Seriously – who even owns that many pitchforks? It hurts me to say this but we borrowed pitchforks from the neighbors – NEVER telling them what we needed them for – and we raked that mother-effing hay field with our hands using pitchforks. Yours truly wore a black ski mask and a Halloween Rainbow Brite costume so if any of the neighbors drove by they’d think an entire family hand-raking a hay field was an illusion and not real.
I don’t know why I cared what the neighbors thought. Our owner/farmer had a reputation of being the greatest guy in the world but they all knew he couldn’t farm worth a damn. Like the time he bred a HUGE bull with a TINY cow and when the cow got pregnant with a 100 lb calf it could not ever get out, he literally tied a rope to the one calf hoof that came out of the cow and tied the other end to a tractor and pulled.
Yes – both the cow and calf died. It was barbaric. And traumatizing.
Moving on to poop. I think the reason I don’t like anything to do with poop is because when I was little, if I pooped my pants and my mom wasn’t home – my dad would sit me on the couch and prop me up with two pillows on each side of me and make me sit there until mom came home to change me. Sometimes Mom would come home and there me and my brother would be. Sitting on the couch side by side. Pillows on each side of us. Immobile. Smelling like shit. Literally. Oh what a joy that must have been to walk into.
“Hello Mom. We missed you. We’re covered in poop. And we can’t move.”
Good thing we were too little to actually talk or I would have screamed, “IF YOU EVER LEAVE ME WITH THIS PERSON CALLED DAD AGAIN – I WILL SHANK YOU WITH MY RATTLE!”
And that my friends is probably why I hate poop even though I’m sure I don’t remember those exact events. I’ve heard about them. They couldn’t have been pretty.
Oh the memories. Like the time my idiot brother went into an old barn he wasn’t supposed to and promptly fell through a hole in the floor. He hung there – his head sticking out above the hole and his arms straight out holding him up. I had to run and get Mom.
After I stood there and laughed and taunted him first. His little head turning red as he screamed, “Go get mom you asshole!” Turns out the hole was right above a mother sow who just had piglets. Apparently every minute counted. Oopsie.
That was the same day known as castration and branding day. Or “take away your manhood and destroy any sense of dignity day”. Or “the reason PETA exists day.”
I’m not exactly sure why my parents required that I help on this doomsday. Removing testicles from animals and burning them with fire just does’t appeal to young children. But on a farm the golden rule is usually, “Everyone helps.”
I remember when castration day was over – the ground would be littered with discarded cow balls. I used to pretend I was in a war – dodging IED bombs (cow balls) because seriously – have you ever stepped on cow balls? It is NOT a cool feeling. Plus you can twist your ankle.
I refuse to talk about whose job it was to go around and pick up all the cow balls. I swear to God the cows would look at me with eyes of death like I was the one who took their balls. Some of them even cried. Hand to God. I felt like Satan…with a bucket of used cow balls.
And the branding was just as fun. I never quite understood branding when it was the 80s and 90s. Cowboys used to brand cows so that cow rustlers and thieves couldn’t steal them. I’m pretty sure cow rustling went out of style when whores stopped working in saloons and stood on New York street corners instead.
But we branded anyway. Nothing like the smell of fresh burned cow hair. Coupled with a ground littered in cow balls. And a little girl who has no idea what the F*CK is going on.
I’m also fairly certain the reason I like bathing in pretty Skittles is because when I was younger – for one week – we didn’t have running water. I’m. Not. Kidding.
It was like living in hell with a dirty vagina.
After a few days, when we all smelled so bad that we couldn’t be in the same room together, my dad had the bright idea to wash up in the crick.
Weehawww…swimming in the crick. Fun, fun. And we’ll wash our armpits and hoohahs while we’re at it and have a good time.
I realized we weren’t going to have such a great time when Mom got out the soap, cups, towels and clean clothes instead of swimsuits and swim toys.
I was at the age where anyone seeing me naked was a travesty and I’d rather die of snake bites. Least of all my family seeing me naked – or my BROTHERS!!
Come on – go ahead. Imagine you and your brother had just hit puberty and you have to strip naked in front of your family without running away screaming, MY EYES MY EYES!
But it was required. Get naked. Run your white ass into the deepest part of the crick. Forget the freaking soap so you have to run back out and back in. Wash yourself. In brown crick water. Try to ignore that within your line of sight are a herd of cows up the crick from you in the same water.
Totally clean water. Yes. Totes.
Horrifying. Just downright horrifying. As bad as it gets. Until you realize someone just drove by on the road about 500 ft away…and they waved. As you took a bath in dirty cow water. With your naked brothers and parents. Because the naïve people wavers think you are having a grand old family day – swimming. With swimsuits on.
They have no idea you’re entire family is naked. And dying on the inside. And marking this as one of the most humiliating days of their life. Hands down.
I can’t even make this shit up. I remember the ride to the water was filled with laughter and joy. The ride home? Silence. No one talked. We were too mortified. But we smelled better.
And you guys wonder why I am the way I am? Why I like bling and pretty things and CLEAN things and nice smelling things and soft things and Skittles and unicorns.
Well this is why.
Take pity on me.
I’ve carried buckets of cow balls.
More than once.