We’ve piloted the first program in North America to naturally decrease global warming gas emissions from cows.
Stonyfield Farms yogurt container.
I awoke bright-eyed and bushy-tailed this morning, ready to take on global warming in my new position as Bovine Burp & Fart Advisor to Stonyfield Farms. And who better than I, Letitia Diamond, who has loved perusing the rules of etiquette since I was a little girl growing up on Beacon Hill in Boston, the capital of good manners in New England–nay, all of America!
My mother used to dandle me on her knee as we flipped through Emily Post and Amy Vanderbilt, mercilessly critiquing the rules those two parvenus made up as they went along. When I got tired of being dandled, I’d run outside to criticize my playmates for not saying “Throw me the bouncy-ball, please!”
For some reason, the other children would become irritated. I remember Constance Wilmot yelling “I’ll bet butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth, you goody two-shoes!” Oh, how cruel children can be when they live off wealth that was only earned two generations ago!
I ran home, hot tears streaming down my face, and went straight to the kitchen. “Augusta,” I said to the farm girl who was working off her great-grandparents’ indentured servitude as our live-in maid, “may I have a pat of butter, please?”
I popped the pat into my mouth and was overjoyed when I felt it run off my tongue. “Muthur,” I said running upstairs, “thoth kidth wur wong–butter doth too melt in ma mouth!”
I snapped myself out of my reminiscences. I had a job to do; teach the cows employed by Stonyfield Farms to control their burps and farts in order to save the planet. Those nice young Greenpeace girls whom I spoke to last week warned me that unless we stop global warming right now, the basement of my house on Pinckney Street could be flooded, even though it sits at the very tippy-top of Beacon Hill! At least I think that’s what they said before I had them removed from the property.
I pulled my Mercedes into Stonyfield Farms and walked over to the fence of the feedlot. There I saw four cows, chewing away–and not, I might add, with their mouths closed!
“Good morning girls!” I called out to them in a friendly tone. It’s my policy to be pleasant with the help, without becoming too familiar with them. After all, we are a totally different species.
“Ummf,” one of them replied, while still chewing!
“Let’s get off on the right foot, shall we? You shouldn’t talk with your mouth full.”
“Who are you?” said one of the four Holstein-Friesians. At least they came from noble European bloodlines.
“I’m Letitia Diamond, your new–’etiquette advisor’.” I don’t like to resort to euphemisms, but it is impolite to say “burp” or “fart” outside of one’s salle de bain.
“We’re cows,” another said. “We don’t need no stinkin’ manners.”
“Oh, but yes you do!” I replied. “Because of the . . . gases . . . you emit, you are imperiling our way of life!”
“Why should I give a cowflap about your way of life?” another asked.
It was clear I had my work cut out for me. “Because if you girls continue to embarrass yourselves by . . . emitting gases from your mouths and your derrieres . . . the world will come to an end! Or something. Because of global warming!” I wasn’t too clear on the science part.
The cows looked at each other, then at me. “You realize, don’t you, that we have four stomachs?”
“Well, why not? There are four of you.”
“No–we have four stomachs apiece!” one of them said.
”Oh–I’m sorry to hear that,” I said, mortified. It is always ungracious to be insensitive to another’s disability.
“So don’t go blaming us for global warming. Park your freaking Mercedes and ride your bike next time you come.”
I needed to re-establish my authority, or risk some sort of yucky labor dispute. “Be that as it may,” I said with the haughtiest air I could muster, “there’s no reason why you ‘gals’ shouldn’t do your level best not to offend others.”
“We don’t exactly have a lot of options–what did you have in mind?”
“Well, for example,” I began in a didactic tone, “when you feel the need to ‘cut the cheese’ . . . “
“Lady, if it weren’t for us, you wouldn’t have any cheese at your next intimate little soiree.”
“Still,” I said, “if you sense a gaseous moment coming on, excuse yourself from the trough and go to the powder room.”
The cows looked at each other, then at me. “We’re out here in freaking nature, lady!” one said.
I looked around and immediately sensed the fundamental correctness of her observation. “Then I would suggest that you go down to that boggy area over there”–I couldn’t help but point, I know it’s impolite, but there were no other humans around–”and release your gas where it will perhaps mingle with other unpleasant odors.”
The cows turned their heads, then looked back at me. “That’s a long way–what if we, uh, don’t have time?” one of them asked.
“Then the proper thing to do,” I said primly, “is to lean to one side, allow the gas to escape silently, and then say ‘It’s low tide–the clams must be happy!’”
Available in print and Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Boston Baroques.”