Farnsworth

Cows use horns as sense organs. Horns give cows a sense of their surroundings and metabolisms. A cow without horns can’t feel anything. A hornless cow doesn’t know who a cow is as an entity. Farmers take horns off cows so cows won’t notice cows close by. Cows with horns require a wide berth. Enter the personal space of a cow with horns and see if the cow likes it. Cow is a strong-willed being. Who goes near cow now? If you do, see cow get out of the way of you.   —Dreaming Cow

American cartoonist Gary Larson (b. 1950) drew and wrote The Far Side from 1980, when I was twelve, to 1995, when I was twenty-seven. In 2019, in my fifties now, Larson came out of retirement to publish single-frame, digital comics. Of the animals populating his oeuvre—shark, reindeer, turtle, pigeon, giraffe, orca, viper, peacock, horse, rhinoceros, bear, moose, elephant, ram, dog, woodpecker, pig, canary, alligator, piranha, wolf, cheetah, owl, goldfish, butterfly, spider, duck, tiger, vulture, stork, kangaroo, bull, python, mosquito, gazelle, scorpion, orangutan, zebra, blue whale, octopus, gecko, slug, fawn, eagle, chicken, mole, lobster, squirrel, seagull, anteater, warthog, porcupine, penguin, sheep, polar bear, et al—cows are best.

Humans and cows take up behavioral issues in cow panels. Figures like Farnsworth invite cows over for a drink and now cows are drunk and dancing on the table. A doctor diagnoses Farnsworth with a case of cows at the sight of cows coming out his knee, his elbow, his back, the top of his head, etc. Queuing outside a slaughterhouse without knowing what’s inside, cows complain bitterly when cows cut in line. A cow ding-dong ditches the house of Farnsworth. When he comes to the door, no one’s there but a cow lows on the lawn. Cows bolt upright out of a recurring dream featuring golden arches.

A cow is a ruminant because a cow chews the cud regurgitated from cow rumen. A menagerie of microbes lives in cows’ rumen in service of digestion. Methane gas is a byproduct. Because cows spew it when cows belch and fart, to pass gas is not a euphemism the way other ways of saying it are and have been. I’ve heard it said cows don’t have standup comedians or funeral processions. A ruminant is a contemplative person. A cow sits on a mound in the lotus position instructing a cow to remain present. When traveling life’s highway, Larson writes, ‘always stop and eat the roses.’ To adopt this sense of humor, pretend you’re a cow while going about your daily business. Not even your mother can know what you’re up to. Write down what you see, hear, and do. Describe your interactions with others. Record your feelings. Keep a sacred cow diary.