Max the Bull/Goodbye, Childhood

Max must have come of age gradually, changing by imperceptible increments over several months. I was caught off guard the day I noticed his gleaming eyes and the testosterone-driven threat he posed, for gone was the cute, playful calf, and here was a powerful mass of muscled, hostile, black and white bull. The idea of a breeding program based on live stock rather than artificial insemination suddenly seemed like a really bad idea: looking at Max, I couldn’t imagine how any human could facilitate courtship between him and the ladies of the barn without risking life and limb. The owner of the farm apparently had come to the same conclusion, because not long after my barn visit, a phone call was made and Max was trucked away to meet his McDonalds.

It was a long time ago – and I’d lived a few more years than Max – when a similar sort of thing had happened to me. One hot, sunny day in 1956, I was lying on my stomach in a pile of straw; facing me was a blonde, sun-tanned boy. The other kids had gone home for lunch, but the two of us stayed, resting under the summer sky at “the fort.” For reasons not understood then, it suddenly felt so good to be near that blonde, sun-tanned boy… Probably – like Max – I had been gradually, imperceptibly changing and didn’t realize it, and – also like Max – my life would never be quite the same again. It was nothing more than a new awareness, but that day marked the end of my childhood, the day the “Tom-boy” I had been for ten years was sent off to meet his McDonalds.

And by the way, this story is true – no bull.


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