My Husband Turned Out To Be A Goat
Copyright 1983, 2002
by Bruce Jaeger. All rights reserved.
I first met Billy while leading a class trip to a dairy farm
just outside of Hastings, Minnesota. He met the bus full of rude, screaming children at
the gate and, without saying a word, led us up the two-rut driveway to where the main
house and the barn crouched nestled between two rows of windbreak cottonwoods.
The farmer, Mr. Davis, quickly got the kids quieted down by the
simple method of grabbing the first boy, dragging him over to the pen where the pigs
grunted and snorted fiercely, and threatening to throw him or any other troublemaker in.
It worked, and after that point I've never led an excursion with less trouble.
Through all this, Billy remained silent, although I could see the
sparkle of amusement lighting up his large brown eyes. And all the while Mr. Davis was
showing us the barn and the milking apparatus and the modern computers, and explaining to
us the the different attributes of the Holstein and the Guernsey and the Jersey cows,
Billy would stand next to me, never choosing to say anything, but showing me through his
mere presence that he saw something in me more than a harried schoolteacher.
When the outing was over, Mr. Davis and Billy and I herded the
children back into the bus, and we made our way back to the cities. I remember still the
way Billy stood by the gate as we left, a long stem of grass clenched in his teeth,
staring sadly yet expectantly after me. I was not kind to the children on the trip home.
That night, I did what I knew I'd have to do; I drove back to Mr.
Davis's farm. I didn't know whether or not Billy would be there, or if Mr. Davis would see
me first and think I'd come back in answer to his own not-too-subtle hintings. I nearly
turned back several times, but the thought of a sleepless night, and the remembrance of
Billy's sad, wishful stare always kept me going.
He must have heard my old car approaching, because he was waiting
at the gate, eager and with little pieces of dinner stuck in his beard to show how he'd
raced to meet me. I opened the car door and got out; before I could even make a timid
greeting, he'd crawled into the car and across the other side. So be it, I thought, and I
took him all the way back to my apartment in a northern suburb.
The love we'd made from that night on was all I'd ever read
about, and I was soon pregnant with our first child--the first, I'm proud to say, of four.
They all resemble their father very much physically, and all share his silent mannerisms.
But Billy himself began to change.
At first content to stay around the apartment while I supported
us on my meager teacher's salary, the time came when Billy started, I think the farmer's
still say, "feeling his oats." He would roam the hallways of the apartment
complex, and what I'd always enjoyed as his silent naughtiness the neighbor wives mistook
as animal lust. They began complaining, and their husbands began threatening.
And finally I came home one afternoon from the school to find
Billy gone. Pillows were ripped to shreds, and the garbage was tipped over and spread all
across the kitchen floor. I asked Billy Jr., the youngest, if he knew where his father had
gone. He replied "Naaa!" meaning, I guessed, that Billy hadn't left any parting
I waited that night and the next for Billy to return, but finally
swallowed my pride and retraced my old way back to the Davis farm. There, to my shame and
disgust, I spied Billy having his way with a filthy sheep! Mortified, I ran back to the
car, slammed the door and cursed my goodbyes.
But then I smiled, remembering my wonderful children, and I
hurried home. The poor little lambs must be hungry, I thought, as I sped back through the