07 March 2007

How to play the cows

Claude Lalumière first published this piece of mine back in 2004, in his online magazine, Lost Pages.

I've vanity-pressed it into service here because of these words that I just read by Cecily Maller: Never, in our entire history, have we spent so little time in physical contact with the natural world. - "Back to Nature", Nature Australia, The Australian Museum, Winter 2005

Prelude: Just as a five-year-old boy can't play the tuba, you first need to fit your instrument to your size. I use Murray Greys, as they come up to the required part of my anatomy: mid-chest. Next, just as every Stradivarius has a name, your instrument needs a name, too. An eartagged G34 will give you as successful a concert as a cobra puckering up to a flute. Now for proper concert attire. In winter, old flannel shirt and old jeans. Gumboots a must. In summer, if you are just jamming with no one else around, there is nothing to beat naked with gumboots. The reason you need proper attire is that your instrument is not incontinent, but she doesn't see any sense in intermission.

No need to know any more fancy musical terms; it's as easy as clapping your hands to play. Anyone can, that is, if you love your instrument.

For that is a requirement, too. While a violin in the hands of a put-upon ten-year-old boy will suffer in bondage, unloved instruments of the cow type will just walk away.

So all is set. Let's make music! Every concert should begin with a bow, so we will bow first. You walk up to the head of the cow and bow from your waist, putting your nose out close to hers. She will put her rubbery nose to yours, or if you are really lucky, to your lips. The finest instrument I've ever known once stuck her tongue briefly into my startled mouth. That day we made music!

Now, walk to your place, at her rear. Stand back a few steps first and examine the instrument. Every time you play she will look, and sound, different. If you compare her right side to her left, you will see that invariably, one side is swelled out like a high balloon, and the other side, a lower-slung balloon. You can think of her as stuffed with four enormous bagpipes, each at different levels of inflation and deflation, as digestion moves the contents around in her four stomachs to finally produce the reason you need old clothes and gumboots.

It is these differences in stomach size that give you the range of notes that are available to you at each performance. She is, in her hollows and swellings, under the tent of her skin-covered bones, a marvelous collection of timbres.

Every cow sounds different, just as every violin. But a well-loved cow is never out of tune.

Your stance is set . . . hands in position, poised out a ways from each flank? Play! Give her a gentle slap on the right, down a handspan from her spine. Then on the left. Then move your hands around, slapping out first a gentle rhythm, slow and exploratory. She likes your voice to accompany the slaps, so sing away. Push your chest up against her tail and feel how her body vibrates. Close your eyes, and you are away.

Take any type of music you like that is rhythmic. She hates John Cage, or any music that needs to get a government grant to be enjoyed. For cows have romantically soppy taste. A cow's house would probably be decorated with velvet paintings of calves with dolorous eyes. But if you warm to passionate music, you've got your instrument. Not that she likes sad music, or all romance. On a sunny day when dandelions make yellow galaxies in the paddocks, she enjoys a rousing John Philip Souza march as much as the Marines.

And when you and your instrument are really in synch, on the finest of fine days, you will find yourselves accompanied if you are lucky, by birds. For me, the notes of a currawong magpie adding its bell-like voice one afternoon, to a Spanish/North African stew of rhythms . . . well, there is no finer feeling of oneness with the world.

So you've played yourself to blissland. Now is the time to pay.

You are in the right position, there at the tail, but now step back so that you are not touching her body with yours anywhere, except with your hands. Spread your legs and note where her back feet are, and yours. And now, singing gentle melodies--a slow waltz is lovely, but homemade lullabies are her favorite--stroke her along the sides of her spine from the middle of her back to her tail, in long, sinuous passes.

She will immediately sway her back to the music, side to side, back and forth, and (mind your feet!) her feet will follow her sway. Never take your fingers from her body. Never stop stroking. Working your way down, concentrate now towards her tail till you are stroking the top of the tail itself. It will raise itself and will probably move itself to one side. Now is the critical time. Watch your feet and hers. For this is when you discover the depths of passion in your instrument.

See her head, low to the ground, wagging from side to side? If you can see her eyes, you will note that they are rolled up into her head. Her legs are wobbly and she often steps back toward your embrace, not quite being in control of her movements. Remember that old perfume ad where the woman has swooned into the arms of the handsome pianist? That is exactly what has happened with your cow. She is transported. She is, in short, having the best time of her life, and you are giving her satisfaction that no bull ever could.

Stop reading now if you don't want to know the obvious, or if you dare I will tell you what happens if she doesn't become downright dangerous as she loses bodily control. She orgasms. You have paid.

She will with delight, be ready any day you want, for the next concert. In fact, if she isn't busy having to support those stomachs, she will be with her friends, queued up and waiting for her turn to play and be paid.

And why she has this passionate capacity, this C-spot that is as used by her in nature as an appendix is to us, is a mystery that I ponder. But as for the thoughts of Lily, Buckwheat, Wild Thing, and Pansy, compare any cow chewing cud, her long-lashed bedroom eyes half-closed in introspection, to a person slumped watching TV. Whatever Pansy and her sisters are thinking, there's no doubt about it. They think and chew at the same time. And if you've played and paid for concerts with them, and you enter their field only to walk on by, only the assumptive unobservant could pooh-pooh cows pondering, too.


Anonymous said...

well, i liked this, but my little mates in the car pool are still reeling from my brief re-telling of it; stunned and mystified

all the best


Anonymous said...

Just delightful Anna. The gumboots put me in mind of a favourite painting by Cate Dudley. See "Wearing the Boots" at www.hathillgallery.com.au/gallery/displayimage.php?album=7&pos=34.


anna tambour said...

Thank you! I love that painting. It's especially good that she's a real woman, down to her crotch that looks like a tea cozy.