Mad Cow

September 15, 2006

The Swiss government has issued warnings about cows. Apparently some hikers were getting a little too friendly with cows they met on their walks and were being attacked by the cows. Note that this is happening in Switzerland, so feel free to insert your own joke about men in lederhosen with enormous trumpets, cheese with holes, Heidi, chocolate, pen knives, banks, cuckoo clocks, neutrality, or Orson Welles. And remember when everybody who was cool had to have a Swatch watch? Now a "swatch" is no longer a watch but a tiny square of fabric that an interior decorator will charge you $1500 and two pints of blood just to look at. Whatever happened to Swatch watches? I know: watch makers realized gold was a more effective status symbol than day-glo plastic.

But I digress. I don’t understand how people are getting attacked by cows because, personally, I’m terrified of cows. Spiders and most other insects don’t bother me. And I’m the guy my neighbor calls whenever she sees a snake in her yard because she knows I’ll take it away and release it in the woods behind our houses. She’s nice enough to not kill the snake and, in turn, I’m nice enough to not tell her it’s probably the same snake each time. But I digress. You probably think of cows as cute and friendly because they’re big, slow-witted animals, but so are pro-wrestlers. Do you really want to run up and pet any of them you meet out in the wild? That’s what’s so idiotic about this: the instructions for dealing with cows sound like common sense instructions for dealing with almost any animal you meet out in the woods or while spinning around on a grassy knoll singing "The Hills Are Alive". The instructions include: don’t make eye contact, don’t wave sticks at them, don’t fondle calves. I find it strange that the Swiss will buy art stolen by the Nazis but frown on fondling calves, but I’ll keep that in mind the next time I visit Europe: if I want my calves fondled I’ll have to go to Amsterdam.

But I digress. The instructions also include this gem: "Give a precise blow to the muzzle of the cow when in absolute need." I don’t know how they define "absolute need". Maybe you’re supposed to understand intuitively when to sock a cow in the nose. The same advice was once given for dealing with sharks. A solid punch to the schnozz as a shark deterrent was first suggested by an experienced seaman named One-Armed Pete. Are we really supposed to believe that punching a cow is going to be any more effective than punching a shark? And cows are scarier than sharks. At least with sharks you can get out of the water. I once saw a cow floating in a river. The fact that it was no longer breathing didn’t make it any less disturbing, especially since I’d been swimming in that river about twenty minutes before. Between the cholesterol and the mad cow disease and now the attacks on hikers I’m beginning to think we should find some safer animal to make cheeseburgers out of. Like maybe pro wrestlers.

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