He was big, bigger than the others hanging out around him, and ebony black. His eyes were a warm brown and I felt that he may have been a bit shy despite his bulk. He would occasionally look down at the ground and then lift his eyes to look around, as if he wanted to say something to those of us who had noticed him. He was gorgeous and I didn’t mind telling my husband that although I didn’t know his name, I wanted him.
My husband was equally besotted and that’s how it happened, this enormous lapse of judgement. This momentary loss of brain cells. This shame upon my family. My husband signaled the auctioneer and the beast was ours, all 1,320 pounds of Angus beef.
At first we were delighted. Then, as the auctioneer moved along to a lamb and then a pig, I began to wonder about the little graph of numbers and confusing auction instructions on the brochure I was holding. I had barely skimmed them and it seemed like there was a multiplier in there so I had done some magical thinking and decided that we had just made a $2,000 purchase. Not bad for so much beef, right? Especially since we had a friend who’d earlier said he’d buy $300 of whatever we purchased.
Still, I felt uneasy. I don’t like math. When I see numbers, my brain shuts off. My husband has dyslexia so he avoids pesky stuff like instructions. It was the perfect storm. After a covert conversation with a 4-H livestock expert, the number became quite clear: we were on the hoof for $6,500, something that everyone else in the auction crowd knew quite a bit earlier than we did.
It was a humbling experience. Just moments before, I was thinking of barbeques. Now I wanted to become a vegetarian immediately. I wondered if a doctor’s note would get us out of the debt: Temporary insanity. Acute brain freeze? I wondered if I should start driving and never come back. Just that morning, we’d paid cash for a used car for our college-bound son, so it was a red letter day for the family checking account.
Luckily, there’s a happy ending. My husband and I had no idea that so many people were lusting after our beast, too. Portions were sold quite quickly and we ended up with just the right amount for our freezer. The stink of our embarrassment fades with every barbeque and every taste of that astonishingly good beef.
We’ll be at the next Teton County 4-H Livestock Auction and we’ll raise our paddle again in a more informed manner. We hope more community members will come out and support the youth who participate in this program. These kids work very hard to bring their critters to market and as my husband and I have learned, you can get your friends together to share the costs and have a great time watching the show.
Have you heard any good city-slicker stories? If so, share them here.More