The alternative high school where I've worked the past four years has finally closed its doors with a bizarre end-of-school cookout. Not that the cookout was bizarre (except there wasn't enough watermelon). Our principal actually owns a catering service called "Ragin' Cajun" so he barbecues quite well and we eat heartily. No, the strangeness at this event was the main course, whose name happened to be "Stumpy."
We had a new teacher this year, and she's from a rodeo family, so they have lots of livestock. It's turns out that she was the provider of the ribs and steaks from her pet steer, named because the fluffy end of his tail was missing when he was born. "It was so funny to see him swish flies," she said, her eyes big and wet with remembering. "His tail would wag back and forth over his rump like a dog's." She blinked. "I miss Stumpy."
Well, my appetite was ruined. I mean, when you see cuts of meat on a plate, you don't necessarily see the animal they used to be, especially not a pet steer who wagged its tail like a dog!
"How can you talk about him like that?" I asked, my stomach rumbling.
"Oh," she said, wiping her eyes and looking up at me, because I'm nearly a foot taller than her. "It's all part of the circle of life. And when I die, ALL my animals are going to be there to meet me. Even Stumpy."
Well, if Stumpy wasn't going to hold a grudge, who am I to judge?
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