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A Night That Will Life in (Bovine) Infamy

For my birthday last fall, my friends put
target="_blank">a life-size plexi-glass cow
in my front
yard. Since then, it’s made the rounds to a couple other
houses for birthdays, and now it’s such a tradition that we
couldn’t stop that rolling stone if we tried. So Friday night
we all made plans to “cow” another friend’s house
–w e had the “costume” all ready, the birthday
sign, and a bag full of emergency supplies like tape and a
flashlight. We were organized, we had a plan – easy in, easy
out, right?

I am solemnly swearing to you that everything you are about to read
is true. As I often say in this blog, I couldn’t make this
stuff up if I tried.

My friend’s house was only a block away so at 9 p.m., our
designated meet time, I swung my backpack on my shoulder and headed
out through my back alley. As I walked along the sidewalk I saw the
psychedelic cow pass me by in a pick-up truck, tailgate down to
accommodate her udders. I gave a friendly wave and checked off our
first to-do: get the cow to the scene. I crossed over my
friend’s lawn just after the cow had been dropped off by a
weary husband , and I greeted two sisters-in-crime who’d
already arrived and patted Heidi (the cow’s) flank fondly,
thinking of the fun we were going to have.

Then the police showed up.

As I stood facing my friend’s house
and dropped my backpack in the grass, I heard cars pull up and saw
red-and-blue flashing lights begin to bounce off Heidi’s
placid mug. “Holy $#@% the cops are here!” a friend of
mine blurted and I turned around to see the birthday girl’s
husband screeching to a stop in front of his house, a cop car
slamming to a halt right behind him. My friend’s husband
– let’s call him Keith – perhaps unwisely jumped
out of his jeep to talk to the officer, at which point – hand
on the Good Book – the policeman put his hand on his gun,
half-crouched, and said, “Sir, you need to STAY IN YOUR

Keith hopped nimbly back in his jeep.

As I am watching this unfold, one of my sisters-in-crime cried,
“I have an open beer next to the mailbox! Please God
don’t let him see it!”

Which reminded me that I had a sippy cup of tequila and several
Dixie cups for sharing in my be-prepared backpack.

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

The whole scene felt way too close to an episode of
“COPS” – vandalism, alcohol, reckless driving
– and I was beginning to consider scaling the back fence (
how fast could the cop be, anyhow?) when the situation ratcheted up
yet another notch as my friend’s six-year-old son opened the
front door and stared owlishly at the scene outside. Right next to
him popped up yet another future-eyewitness, another boy who was
apparently in the midst of the coolest sleepover of his entire

For some ridiculous reason, I still felt the night and aura of
secrecy in which it was wrapped were somehow salvageable, so I
tiptoed up to the boys and said, “Hey, there, Max, how are
you! It’s your mommy’s friend, Miss Jen!” Over
Max’s shoulder I could see the birthday girl’s best
friend inside: she’d been given strict instructions to keep
the birthday girl inside NO MATTER WHAT and she was currently
acting like a skittish linebacker, shuffling side to side in front
of my friend with her arms spread wide and saying over and over,
“You don’t need to go outside! Nothing to see there!
It’s ok! Nothing going on there!”

“Why are there policemen talking to my dad?” Max asked,
not tearing his eyes from the scene.

At this point, I might have lied a tiny bit.

“Oh, the policeman was lost and he’s just asking your
dad for directions. Head on back inside now, it’s cold! And
no need to tell your mom, ok!” I shrieked merrily after the
disappearing head. And then from inside the house I heard,
“Mom, there’s police outside. And a cow!”

“$#$%,” I said. And turned my attention back to the

Taking a good look at the scene, I could see Keith chatting away
with the police officer who was, for some inexplicable reason,
completely oblivious to the three women, one bovine, and one green
frog (lest we forget the life-size Kermit we also had) on the lawn.
And I had a brilliant realization:

This would be an excellent time to get out the video camera.

Yes, yes I did. I took a bit of video, snapped a few stills, you
know. For proof later down the line.

One of my friends was sidling casually away from the illicit
beer-by-the-mailbox and over to my side while my other friend was
doubled over the cow laughing when the front door opened and the
birthday girl came out in her pjs. (And I just have to ask here,
A., how were YOU ready for bed and your SIX-YEAR-OLD SON was still
up? Because THAT? Just made it that much more complicated.) When my
sister-in-crime standing next to me sees the birthday girl come out
the door, she began yelling, “Act inconspicuous! Act
inconspicuous!” and then, inexplicably, “Duck and
cover!” before hiding behind a bovine haunch. Apparently this
particular girl still harbored hopes of a secret night. I looked at
her and said, “I’m reasonably sure this operation is no
longer covert.”

We sheepishly came out from behind the cow and did the Texas
greeting - “Hey, how y’all doing? What’s
up?” to our friend in her pjs on her British farce of a front
lawn. She hugged herself with her arms and said, “Everything
ok with Keith?” “Yep, yep,” we all nodded like
bobble-head dolls, “Nothing to worry about here. You can head
on back in, ok?” She gave us a long stare, and then – a
measure of her trust – went back inside.

The policeman finally wrapped things up and left, still without
even glancing at the cow – which, at six feet tall and seven
feet long is hard to miss – and we descended upon Keith,
ready to offer sympathy and grateful thanks for taking whatever rap
he’d taken on our behalf.

Turns out the a$$-hole actually brought the police there on

Keith saw the police lurking in the neighborhood, glided through a
stop sign and then, when the cop was on his tail, gunned it and
took a hard left onto his street, knowing we’d be setting up
right then and hoping we’d poop in our pants.

Ha ha. Very mature, says the person who cows people’s front

At any rate, the police officer, probably catching a whiff of the
strong odor of crazy eminating from the scene, let Keith off with a
warning and sped off back to some saner folks.

At this point I may or may not have cracked open the sippy cup. But
really, could you blame me?

We finished the rest of the cowing without incident, getting
giddier and giddier as the tequila kicked in and the adrenaline
wore off. By the time we’d shoe-polished her car (I know,
right? How old are we?) and were packing up to head home the sippy
cup was empty, as were the few beer bottles Keith had brought out
to us as penance. We cackled about the night for a few more
minutes, then split up and head home to our respective respectable
lives. The cow was set – and is there still – and
we’d done our job for another birthday.

Not sure how we’re going to top that for the next birthday,
but I heartily suggest that EMS be on standby.


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