There was something strange in the air when I walked into the indoor soccer facility where I regularly fucking dominate, out there in that legendary Arvada coed adult B-league you hear so much about. And it wasn't the stale oxygen of an aging space mixed with the bittersweet stench of washed-up athletes too vain to let it go; I've come to know that odor quite well. No, it was the demeanor of my teammates, the Mad Cows, a typically jovial and good-natured bunch, that seemed askew. As I strolled in, I saw them laughing, putting on their cleats and shin guards and generally enjoying themselves -- but as soon as they saw me, they shut right up, like they were hiding something.
"What's going on?" I asked.
"Don't tell him!" begged our goalie, who -- because he begged -- I'll refer to as Pepe, short for Pepe Reina of Liverpool (his favorite international keeper). "If you tell him, he'll write about it."
"No, I won't!" I insisted. "I have a life outside of my column; I don't have to write about everything I do."
"Okay," Pepe said with a defeated sigh. "I bought the Hula Cow."
At this revelation, several members of my team burst into hysterical laughter, and I quickly decided that I would write about it. Because I don't really have a life outside of my column. But I won't lie: My teammates mooing at Pepe every time he touched the ball throughout the game contributed to this decision.
A week earlier, as we were walking to our cars, Pepe had mentioned that he was going to an event where they were going to auction off all those awful CowParade hand-painted bovines that littered the city over the past few months, with the proceeds going to charity -- hopefully the Better Public Art You Stupid Assholes fund, or BPAYSA. Pepe mentioned that he would love to own one of those cows but probably couldn't afford it. Since Pepe lives on my block, I said something to the effect of, "If you buy the John Lynch cow, I'll come over and ride it" -- a statement that my teammates found curious and that I immediately regretted. But no one thought any more about Pepe's declaration, until we learned that he'd gone to the auction, had too much to drink and wound up buying the Hula Cow. For $2,500.
This taught me two things. One: Alcohol loosens the wallet, which I sort of already knew. Two: Your indoor-soccer teammates actually have lives outside the team; they don't just go home and wait in their soccer gear for the next game. Huh.
Pepe had gotten to the auction late because he knew there would be free booze and realized that, like any young professional, he'd be unable to restrain himself and thought he'd be better off shrinking his window of drinking opportunity. Or drink-portunity. But Pepe didn't anticipate the bureaucratic back-slapping -- an endless chain of announcements and thank-yous that was unbearable unless you were drinking. Heavily. And so he drank, and started thinking stupid thoughts like, "You know, one of these cows really would look good in the back yard," and "You know, $2,500 really isn't all that much." And then Pepe found himself seated at the live auction, raising his hand for the minimum $2,500 bid on a bunch of cows, thinking crazy thoughts like, "Fuck it -- there's no way any of these cows will sell for the minimum bid anyway. Everybody loves these things, and that BPAYSA is a really good fund to donate to."
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Pepe certainly didn't count on being the only person to bid on the Hula Cow, which he was -- because the thing is hideous. For starters, it stands upright rather than on all fours, with front hooves reaching out at you like Frankenstein's monster. It's not painted, either, like most of the other cows. Instead, the artist basically took the standard cow that all artists were issued, slapped on a lei, a hula skirt and some leaves and called it art. "It's pretty much the worst cow," Pepe confided as we walked onto the field. And as I soon discovered, it's also tall: You can see its head over Pepe's fence.
Pepe has a good job and all that, but still, who can take a $2,500 hit on a piece of bad art? To put it in perspective, that's 416 Chipotle burritos. That's 5,000 hours of choice parking on Broadway. That's ten trips to detox. And now Pepe can enjoy none of these things. For the time being, all of his idle time will have to be spent staring wistfully out the window at the Hula Cow in his back yard.
And enduring the mooing of his teammates.