His first mistake was thinking she'd take it as a compliment to be compared to a cow.
''I meant that you're loyal. Like cows,'' he bleated.
She was too bull-headed to grasp reason. Soon, his head clanged like a cowbell.
''But it's true,'' he said. ''Cows have best friends. Cattle cohorts. Bovine BFFs.''
She pawed the floor. ''I am NOT an old cow.''
''I never said old.''
A red table cloth was the only thing he could find to hide behind. He thought better of waving it. He picked up a newspaper instead.
''See, this scientist at Northampton University in England did a study on cows. She noticed that within clutters of cows...''
''Herds, clutters, packs, posses, whatever. When a gang of cows rumble around a pasture together, one heifer often singles out another to hang out with. Mobs of mooers are made up of cow cliques.''
''No, that would be scientists, I think. It's hard to tell what they'll study next.''
She snorted. ''Which music cows prefer.''
''Oh, they already did that one. They love Simon and Garfunkel's 'Bridge Over Troubled Water.'''
She chewed on that for a few seconds. ''I'm waiting for the punchline.''
''No punchline.'' He dug out another newspaper. ''See, psychologists at the University of Leicester played different types of music in dairy barns. Hard rock didn't go over so well, but the ladies gave an extra pint a day when listening to 'Moon River' or Beethoven's 'Pastoral Symphony.'''
He pulled another paper from the bale. ''And here, researchers from the University of Duisburg in Germany studied Google Earth images of 8,500 cows across the globe and found that they mainly align their bodies in a north-south direction in the pasture. They come with more than horns, two-tone exteriors and genuine cowhide. An internal GPS is standard equipment.''
She looked like she'd spit hay. ''No wonder the cow jumped over the moon. Researchers keep spying on them.''
''Anyhow, for the best friend study, scientists measured cow heart rates and such. Separate bovine buddies, and their blood pressure shoots up.''
She shook her head. ''I suppose next you're going to tell me that if they had cell phones large enough for their hooves, the girls would be texting each other all the time.''
''It would be a good way to alert their bosom bovine of an excellent clover patch without tipping off the mean girl cows.''
''There are mean girl cows?''
''Probably. There are boss cows.''
''Sort of like a boss hog?''
He nodded. ''Yep, but without the curly tail. Grandpa used to figure out which was the boss cow and hung a bell around her neck. It clanged when she'd walk, and alert the others to move out. Cows don't pay attention a lot, especially if they happen to be standing on your foot. Cows are huge, massive, heavy beasts.''
Her necklace clanged against her dewlap as she bellowed. ''So you're calling me a fat beast!''
''No, you're loyal, a leader, full of direction...''
''... bossy -- wait, no.''
Later that night, he learned a cow tip: Whoever romanticized about the gentle lowing of cattle never had to sleep in a barn.
---- Snort at Cole at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the Burton W. Cole page on Facebook.