When I was a kid, I didn’t fit in.
This wasn’t just a suspicious feeling of not fitting in, but a full fledged, not fooling anyone, home-made hippie dress and a bowl hair cut made from a real bowl brand of not fitting in.
I have never found the movie Napoleon Dynamite funny as it struck way to close to home. Although I didn’t have an llama for a pet. I had a sheep. His name was Bert.
My parents didn’t believe in prime time TV, or, watching more than an hour a day of PBS, and with two younger siblings and a pair of rabbit ears, that usually meant we were watching Sesame Street. Or soaps when I was lucky. But I must admit, General Hospital, during its Luke and Laura years, was amazing!
Not that I had much to compare it to.
Unlike every kid my age, I had not seen the Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Dukes of Hazzard, The Brady Bunch or Charlie’s Angels. I did not own a Barbie. We were, however, allowed to watch The Muppet Show AND The Wonderful World of Disney on Sunday nights.
But that was when we HAD a TV.
This meant 99.9% of pop culture references went well over my bowl cut.
My parents’ intention was to broaden my views and make me a well-rounded, independent spirit. The unfortunate side effect of that is that I now fetishize Barbie, have an inappropriately intimate relationship with all things Disney and Muppets. It also helped me feel comfortable outside the social norm.
We lived on a little farm on the outskirts of a small town, and grew or made most of our food. Every year I watched in wide-eyed disbelief as a strange man inserted his entire arm into our female cow and artificially inseminated her. When the baby boy cow was born I watched in wide-eyed amazement as he was castrated. In the fall, the mobile butcher would show up and in wide-eyed amazement AND disbelief, I watched as the cow was butchered.
One year the butcher showed up at eight a.m. Waiting for the school bus, clutching my bag lunch, I watched him work from a safe distance so as not to get blood on my home-made dress.
I’m sure you know where this is going.
I think his name was Arby. We named all our cows after fast food restaurants we never went to. He was hung upside down from the back of the truck and bled. His hide was stripped off and piled in a heap nearby, and his head removed. His guts had just been pulled out into a big bucket on the blood soaked ground when the school bus pulled up.
Being a small school system, every kid from first grade through high school who lived on that side of our town rode the same bus. I was the third from the last stop.
I can still picture the bus tilting towards my house as every kid on my side of town crowded into the passenger side windows for a better look. I can still hear the sound of rusty metal shocks squealing under the strain of its suddenly lopsided load. In my memory now, it’s quite cartoonish. At the time however, I was SO out of touch with the average kid that I had NO IDEA what the big deal was. Where else would you get your meat?
After that day, I became known as … The Dead Cow Girl. It was not a name used in affection, but one that solidified the fact that I did not fit in, and used by sharp tongued third graders who had yet to discover empathy.
When I started blogging, often about shame-busting, I re-claimed the name Dead Cow Girl as my own. It was memorable and readily available on every social media platform. As I grew as a blogger, I changed my goals and visual presentation but have always kept that name close to remind me that it doesn’t mater what others think or say. Yes. My quirks define me, but not in a bad way. They make me a well rounded, interesting person. A whole person. No one should ever be ashamed of their quirks. To do so is to be ashamed of the amazing combination experiences, both good and bad, that created the fascinating person you have become!