I was about 3 in this picture. My dad had just graduated and my grandfather bought a goat to celebrate. My aunties and uncles decided to introduce me to the goat and as you can see, they got me to ride it. They told me it was the new family pet. I decided I must feed it daily if it’s the new family pet. I played with it and even gave it a name. One of my aunties think it was Billy. Which makes sense. After all, my teddy bear was named Teddy.
Before I go further I must explain that when it comes to my dad’s side of the family, aunties and uncles mean not just my dad’s brothers and sister, but their cousins and friends, too. My uncle in the picture is my dad’s youngest brother. My two aunties in the picture are actually their cousins. The one on the far left is just 2 years older than me and for some reason I’ve never been able to wrap my head around calling her “auntie.” I just call her by her first name.
So, one day I went out to go play with the goat and walked upon my grandpa and all the other grandpa’s standing over something very pink and bloody. Something that soon registered in my brain as my beloved pet goat. You see, the goat wasn’t really the family pet but dinner for my uncle’s graduation party.
I remember screaming. Lots of screaming. Lots of crying. Running. Hiding.
I hid for a long time in the back corner of my uncles’ bedroom closet – it was one of my favorite hiding places when I played Hide and Go Seek with my aunties and uncles. Crying. Crying. Crying. I eventually tired myself out and I fell asleep in the corner of the closet.
I eventually came out of hiding when the food was prepared and everyone was eating. My cheeks were still salty from the tears as I sat down across a table from one of my aunties. She was eating my pet. All I could do was give her stink eye the best I could at my age.
I did everything I could after that to avoid #1) anything made from goat and #2) going anywhere near the grandpas when I knew they were butchering the animals for parties.
I went to Maui with my ex many, many years ago. He was a groomsman in his cousin’s wedding and I met a lot of his extended family. One couple, decided to take me in, as it were, while he was busy with wedding party duties during the reception. I sat with them and got to know them pretty well. Little dishes of meat came out before dinner was served and I absently served myself some while we were talking. I took a bite and was met with the most horrible bitter tang, ever. I immediately took my napkin and spit it out. It was a paper napkin. “What is that?” I asked. “Goat.”
Oh the horror!
I pushed the plate away. I then recounted the story of my pet goat when they asked what was wrong with it.
To this day, I always ask about a dish I’m not sure when I’m back home for a party. My aunties and uncles will tease and say, “Look, Debi. A goat.” when someone in the family has one tied up in the backyard.
When I was back home for a wedding years ago, I forced myself to sit in my relative’s backyard and watch the men (my grandpas and uncles) bring home the pigs they “caught” on the pig farm and butcher them. I even took pictures. It may sound grim, but I realized I was missing out on part of my heritage. I wanted to document something that my aunties, uncles, and I knew wouldn’t happen much once all the grandmothers and grandfathers are gone from this world. It was brutal and gruesome, but I was glad I forced myself to watch.
The goat incident is something of a family joke. Or rather a means for my aunties and uncles to have a laugh at my expense, which sure, laugh. They’ve all gotten a good laugh from the memories since I posted the above picture on Facebook. Even my husband is getting in on the fun. I mean, sure it was traumatic and I was the naive “little sister” that got picked on a lot. But, I was also loved. I am loved and I”m willing to be subject of the joke because of that love. So, sure my uncles will post pictures of goats on Facebook and tease me about it. Payback is a bitch, though. I learned from the best.