Monday, March 19, 2007

Green Bay 'Pacas

I've posted here about alpacas before, but this weekend I attended my very first alpaca show ever in Neenah, Wisconsin, which, as my mother pointed out, sounds like someone let a toddler name the town.

My uncle is a farmer and a veterinarian and has been breeding and showing alpacas for a decade now. My mother has recently gotten into it and has a couple of alpacas of her own: Blackberry and Brandy (together, they are named after my late grandmother's boisson of choice--oh those crazy, drunken farmer's wives!).
Mom and I drove up early on Friday morning, passing through many adorable towns in southern Wisconsin before we got to Oshkosh, otherwise known as the largest strip mall in America. I've been thinking a lot about going into college teaching, knowing that the field for creative writing and English is very competitive. That is, I know I would have to "follow the jobs" as they say. I hadn't really considered what that meant until we got to Oshkosh, which is in theory a college town, but in practice is just one big parking lot. If someone had asked Sam Walton design a town (as they did Thomas Kinkade--gag), his vision of Eden would have looked a lot like Oshkosh. There was not a tree, a car (remember those?), or a person weighing less than 200 pounds for miles in any direction. In fact, even here in God's country, the sole holdout from the franchise frenzy seems to be the independently owned and operated stripclub, Beansnappers.

Suffice it to say that if I had to move to Oshkosh or somewhere like it for a university job, I would probably not be long for this earth. But that’s okay because we weren’t there to teach composition or watch French films, we were there to show alpacas.
First up was Brandy, my mom’s pride and joy. The problem with Brandy is that he’s a bit too small for his age. He’s won championships before because of the quality of his fleece, but he’s also lost a few competitions because of his size. One judge actually told my mother that he wasn’t “macho” enough to be a top competitive male. When I think about machismo, a lot of things come to mind--New York City cops, Hooters, football—but never, if I listed out all the machoness in the world, would I ever arrive at male alpacas. On the machismo scale, male alpacas are down there with Ryan Seacrest and quiche, regardless of their size. Sadly, Brandy could not seem to convince the judges this weekend that he was anything more than a dandy. His threads were fine, but his wrists were weak.

Here he is with my uncle, trying to put on a convincing show. Fifth place out of five was his lot. Nice use of the rear-up, though.

Afterwards, I consoled him with a fine neck scratching.

And we walked off the loss as the sun set in the west.

That night, he jumped his pen, went on a bender and was later apprehended snorting coke off a dancer’s thigh in the champagne room at Beansnappers. Oh Brandy, don’t you get it? You’re man enough for me.

There was also the hilarious children’s hour, where all the little kids got to lead their alpacas into the show ring for a limbo competition. I tried to disguise my laughter as the “Aw, isn’t that adorable!” sort of sated parental chuckling, but when one little kid walked head-first into the limbo bar and fell down on top of his alpaca, I just couldn’t contain myself. My guffaws drew a few dirty looks from the stands and my poor, mortified mother.

This is Black Ice. He got second place in the competition where Brandy placed last. Black Ice will steal your soul while you sleep.

All in all, the weekend was excellent. We ended it by eating at an Outback Steakhouse. I’d never had the pleasure, and ended up making a fatal mistake. When dining at a franchise restaurant, one should never attempt to order healthy food. Everyone (but me, apparently) knows that you should order the Aussie Beef Bucket with a side of fried lard, or something equivalent. But after all the cheese and hotdog (and cheesy hotdog!) consumption over the weekend, I decided to get a side salad, “steamed” broccoli and rare tuna appetizer. The broccoli had obviously been steamed by microwaves (as opposed to the traditional, boiled-water method) and covered in what tasted like movie popcorn butter. The tuna came in identical slices that were suspiciously gel-like in their consistency. I could almost see the long, squishy tube in the back labeled “tuna” from whence the slices were cut, could almost taste the horse hoof. All in all, it was not terrible, but yeah, I should have ordered the Bloomin’ Onion with Down Under Buffalo Wings and Wild Sauce.

Mostly, the weekend was awesome because I got to spend it with my mom. I don’t remember the last time that happened. I highly recommend it, although she’s going to be pretty busy this spring with other alpaca shows, so schedule your weekends early.

In other news, Kevin lost a claw last week while making her usual Daytona 500-like speed laps around our front hall and living room. Because rabbits are very susceptible to pain, and I am very susceptible to being a sucker for my rabbit, I took her to the vet where they cut down her remaining claws, weighed her, looked in her ears, asked her to turn her head and cough, and gave her a shot for the pain.

She was pronounced fit as a fiddle but did not particularly enjoy the experience.

And now for pictures of our apartment! (Can you tell I just got back from the 1-Hour Photomat?) I thought this would be a nice chance to give folks far away a peak at the new place and make my New York friends nauseous with jealousy. Just kidding. Hey, space is the one commodity we have out here that you guys don’t. Please, just let me hold onto that.

Here’s the front porch, sans jug band. Notice the painted cement accents and the peeling floorboards. 100% class.

The living room. That green man in the corner is a hillbilly zombie and is Brad’s creation, as is the spindly ink drawing above it. That big pillow in the middle of the window seat is called a “husband.” I found this out in college, when Carolyn brought her “husband” to our dorm room. I love the term because it’s somehow kind of naughty and inappropriate, although I’m not quite sure how or why. Perhaps because we used to share the pillow and, once in awhile, have sex with it in exchange for jewelry.

This is my green office. The light comes in through the green curtains all day and makes everything glow a light chartreuse. Since green is the color of nature, Kermit the Frog and horniness, I find my office a very pleasant place to spend time.

Here’s our bedroom. You can’t really tell from the photo, but the blanket on our bed is a triple-threat, photo-realistic rendering of a deer head, an eagle head and a wolf head. It’s very Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom.

That’s our house, minus Brad’s studio and the kitchen. I guess I left out the bathroom too, but if you want to see my bathroom, you’re going to have to come to Iowa and view it in person, perv.