"Seriously, guys, there's no way this is going to work," I said louder this time, invoking images of the cow retaliating against our plight, running away only to be found living a solitary life on a far-off meadow in Ireland, chomping away on cardboard grass happily unaware of its Trojan ancestry.
I attribute my lack of geography skills to the fact I never really paid much attention to anything during my formative middle school years. Short-term memorization was something I had always excelled at, as I could plant anything in my brain and force it to stay there for 24 hours. As soon as information would flow from my pen to paper, the fact or figure-- how Lincoln died, the date World War II began, or why moose eat muffins-- would simply leak from my left ear, transform into a vapor, rise to the top of the cracked ceiling and be pushed away by the constant revolutions of the massive, archaic fans.
However, there was something about obscure pieces of history that held my attention like extraneous super glue between two unsuspecting fingers. I liked the stories no one had ever heard of, the kind shrouded in speculation, forcing facts to change book by book, year by year. The Battle of Schrute farms, the small stories of heroism, destruction, good deeds, tiny victories, and of course, the Trojan Horse.
What fools the Trojans seemed for simply pulling a horse into their fair city after a 10 year battle, assuming the Greeks had simply surrendered. As I child, I was fascinated this actually worked. My mind would teem over the possibilities of doing the same in modern times: I could sneak into the mall after hours and be stuck there for the night, playing with every toy imaginable, biking down the winding corridors, feasting upon the food court delicacies. [Granted, this is even more of a flawed plan than the horse idea. I mean, everything would be locked--who would make the food? Of course, these are adult problems, far away from the consciousness of a bored sixth grader with an overly active imagination prone to bouts of fanciful day dreaming.]
The 30-100 men inside the horse caused all kinds of problems inside my own brain while I pretended to follow whichever direction my plump, drone of a teacher was taking her unwilling class. Were they tired? How did they stay quiet for that long? A horse is a strange shape for 100 men to be jammed into-- where did they sit? How long did they hang out like that? What did the Trojans think they were going to do with the horse once they got it into the city-- stare at it? Ride it? Of course, I knew better than to ask my underpaid, overworked teacher these questions because she wouldn't know. These quandaries have fluttered around in my brain for more than a decade, as useless information tends to kick back and hang out while their more informative, productive counterparts fly the coop. I didn't know then, sitting in my sixth grade catholic school 86-year old desk seat, I would have to wait until the age of 27 to keenly understand everything I didn't know then about the horse than won the Trojan war.
I was still being impatient, shaking my head in the direction of Bessie, when I suggested I'll take over the far edge of the frozen lake upon which the half a million snow geese were congregating and partying. The guys felt this was a good idea so I picked up my blind bag, loaded my Vinci, and took off for the massive cow dung piles near the frozen expanse of liquid North Dakota prairie. During the following twenty minutes, the geese put on a good show. Snows to my right, Canadas to my left-- each calling, swaying their gigantic backsides as they attempt to mosey to one another. The funnier airborne ones cupped and broke too late, skidding across the ice far past his friends, wings flying, only to pick a new group of friends and play the whole thing off like he meant to be there all along.
No snows gave me a shot until I heard BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. BOOM, BOOM, BOOM, BOOM! A few seconds later, almost like an afterthought, BOOM! The great mass of fluttering white picked up in unison, screaming to one another RUN AWAY! RUN AWAY! The origami shapes, painted white, blue, black scattered, came together, scattered again and tornadoed into another frozen body some hundred yards to my left. The unimpressed Canadas stay put, far too lazy or too stupid to move.
In the distance, the tan truck was accompanied by two men holding surgical implements, namely wood and duct tape, while a third held down broken Bessie. A smaller replica of one of the men ran towards me, his orange plastic gun held tightly in his tiny fists.
"I SHOT SEVEN!" he yelled triumphantly.
"You did?!" I yelled back, encouraging his sense of hunter pride.
"YUP I DID IT WITHOUT BULLETS TOO!"
Obviously, this impressed me so, as we joined and walked to the truck, I asked him for additional information concerning his fascinating, albeit impossible, snow goose kill. At the time, I assumed his figure a fictitious one, since, as I said before, there is no way that was going to work.
"No, really, Daddy and Mike got seven-- they're in the back of the truck. I saw them. I carried one to the truck," he said with obvious pride, more so at his contribution than the prowess of the guys' shots.
We reached the truck and of course, as instructed, I look in. And of course, there lay seven clearly dead geese.
Which explains why I'm now standing next to a nameless North Dakota highway holding Bessie, our own snow goose hunting Trojan cow while Waylon loads up his gun. I'm still holding Bessie as a white pickup passes. In a momentary lapse of judgement, I pick up my hand to wave. The driver, slightly unnerved at the sight of two adults standing behind a badly painted cow with lopsided ears and an extremely lazy eye, cranes his neck to really absorb the whole thing in case he has to describe the two bovine people who suddenly went missing off a nameless North Dakota highway before stepping on the gas, disappearing in a cloud of particles.
Luckily, we begin walking against the wind, making Bessie appear more upright for our quarter-mile journey. Her owner has thoughtfully drilled holes in her side, allowing those contained within her to see the enemy from a distance. When we get within a 100 yards of the ten-thousand strong snow goose field, I expect them to begin evacuating, but they don't.
I mutter, "We're walking behind a cow and the freaking geese aren't moving." Waylon nods; we resume our trek. At 50 yards we pause to reposition our guns and rest our weary legs. I look again through Bessie's chest cavity and again, the geese haven't moved.
A Canada flies within 10 yards to our right and continues on its merry way. Laughing, I look at Waylon and whisper, "Is this working?"
We retrieve the dinner strewn about the field and then fetch muddy Bessie who, after all her hard work, was left in the mud, trampled under our feet in our race to the finish. We meet up with Mike, who after surveying the future goose brats hanging in my hands, asks, "So, what did you think?"
"I can't believe it," I laugh, "it worked!"
Throughout middle school, I constantly wondered if any of the things I learned would ever translate into the adult world. I learned trigonometry I never have used since. I never went on a job interview and was asked to find X if the B side is 90 degrees. I never got fired because I didn't know how to properly categorize a bear into a phylum, genus, or species. However, now, because of a combination of sixth grade daydreaming and real world experience, I fully understand the story of the Trojan Horse. The guys were smart, they tried something to catch the enemy off-guard and they won. It was a sneaky thing but it worked. Sure, they had to squeeze themselves into a horse and hang out for hours but the effort and discomfort was worth its weight in gold when the Greeks took over the city; we, our goose field.