Instead of going to my regular cubicle-enriched job today, I worked at an agricultural trade show. I am so out of my element when it comes to the agricultural sector of our economy, but I was shilling for book publishers, so my ten-by-ten booth was an island of relative security as people in cowboy hats carrying cattle prods that matched their outfits sidled past on their way to check out the farm machinery in the adjoining building. I straightened books, talked to people about what their great-aunt Susan would like to read if the print wasn't too small, and told people not to fret until their manuscripts had been rejected ten times.

I would like to take a brief moment here to apologize to any editors out there who may be reading this and cursing me for having people send them terrible novels and compilations of poetry over and over again. As the day wore on, I got kind of addicted to seeing people heave noticeable sighs of relief at the idea that they might not be really awful writers. They would exhale heavily and then crinkle their eyes at me and say Really? and I would say Really, just find a good editor, and then they would chuckle. And now I'm thinking that maybe that was evil to be so nice without any foundation for my niceness, because perhaps I have set them up for repeated disappointments. Oops.

taxidermied rats

It could be that I was driven a little mad by the stuffed rats under glass at the booth across the aisle from me. They were taxidermied and set up in a bizarre tableau of menacing poses that had them rearing up, crawling over a fence, and slinking along the ground. When I crossed the aisle to take a picture of them, the man behind them asked why I was doing that, and in a fit of complete dishonesty, I told him that I was taking the photograph for my mother. Why would I ever take a picture of taxidermied rats for my mother? Luckily, he did not pursue an answer to that ridiculous assertion.

head of an elk

When I was relieved for my supper break, I noticed that quite a few of the exhibitors had dead things on display to illustrate their vocation. This exhibitor grew huge elk or made elk-related products.

plastinated bovine heart

The above photograph is of a plastinated bovine heart, so I am assuming that the exhibitor was either a large animal veterinarian or a large animal plastinator. It is either a bull's or cow's, and it was about the size of a dinner plate.

plastinated fetal calf inside its mother's womb

The plastinated fetal calf still in its mother's womb was pretty cool, but the exhibitor and two possible clients that she was speaking with were giving me strange looks, so I didn't take enough time to properly focus on the fetus. This time I popped up with the brilliant lie that I was taking pictures of their plastinated guts for my father. It's like I didn't want to own up to my own morbid interests or something.


The only dead thing I photographed that did not gain me any extra unwanted attention was this walleye. I think that its being a world record-holding walleye normalized my photographing it. The exhibitor at that booth went so far as to tell me

Go ahead, it's not camera shy. Just wait for it to hold still



The living things were far more interesting than all the dead crap, though. Just look at the rump on this horse! Or is it a pony? I never know. It was smallish without being shetland small. She looked so sleepy when she peered at me with her nose buried in the hay that I wanted to crawl in there and curl up with her, but then I remembered that

horses are scary motherfuckers

and moved on.

a horse and boys

The previous photograph was hard to take, because those little boys were jostling so hard against the gate, scrambling to touch the horse's nose, and so they, the horse, and the gate kept vibrating left and right. It looks like everyone in the background held nice and still for me, though. Thanks.


Look at the alpacas. Alpacas rock. Look at them rock. Schmutzie likes alpacas. See the alpacas being unable to care less that Schmutzie likes them. Poor Schmutzie.

team of horses

This was a quick one I snapped to show that there were competitions at this thing at which I worked. I don't know what is really going on in the picture. I think this team of horses won something. And some kid got to ride on the wagon thingy. Whatever it was, I was only walking through so that I could get a look at some baby chickens that I heard a mother tell her kids were on the other side. What I realized when I got to the other side was that that mother was lying to her kids to get them to walk faster and go where she wanted them to, because there were no baby chicks. There was only an exit to the parking lot. I am thirty-three years old, and I fell for it along with the four- and six-year-olds.

Yeah, let's go see the fluffy chicks, hyuck

. My brilliance is nothing short of stunning.


I was glad to see Dairyanna when I did. I did not feel compelled to lie to her, and she couldn't lie to me, because she was mute. It was a win-win situation. She nodded and curtsied. The sweetness was saccharine. I finally understood why three-year-olds sometimes fling themselves at these mascots with all the gusto of long-lost lovers.

I thought that I'd be cute back rather than freak her out with adult-sized gusto, so I nodded and curtsied in return. Of course, I was holding a flimsy plate of buttered perogies at the time. She covered her mouth when one hit the floor, slithered under a bench, and caught itself in plastic vine. I mirrored her gesture by covering my own mouth and marched away with what remained of my supper. All I could think was Sheesh, and I carried my perogies back to my booth with both hands, careful not to interact with a single soul, and fed and watered myself until my usual non-lying, non-gullible, non-socializing-with-the-mascot personality returned.

The adventures of my supper break make a lot more sense now that I know I was punchdrunk from low blood sugar. Next time I find myself wandering around taking pictures of things that fit into two categories, Things That Are Dead and Things That Are Alive, I am going to eat a fruit cup and wait fifteen minutes before attempting to interact with other humans, because holy crap, during the sugar low I almost listened to a religious spiel just so I could learn about their free wooden sticks with the beads on the ends. What nice sticks you've got. Take me to your leader. When is the ritual bloodletting?

NaBloPoMo 2006

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How I Won