Cows in the field

I’d hate to be a face-first animal, one that that pushes through life with its snout. A pig, a rat, even a bird—all these go face-first, like a neverending dive.

If one of us skids into the wall, we put out our hands. We catch ourselves. If a dog does the same, it snubs its nose. Its soft, wet nose. How much must that hurt, all that force concentrated on an area the size of a postage stamp?

There are degrees of face-firstness, of course. A dog eats face-first, but a rat holds its food in its hands. The rat can wash its face. It can dangle by its hands. Birds’ beaks are face-mounted, but they’re durable. Their feet can serve as hands. Birds are sort-of hands-first, but they hit windows head-on. Turtles are the worst, with their short little flippers. They can’t protect their heads. Horses are just as bad, and cows, and most livestock—anything that can’t lift a forelimb to its face.

Elephants are a special case. Their trunks are on their faces, but they’re also prehensile. And six feet long. Elephants are…nose-first, in a category by themselves.

Apes and monkeys live in both worlds: hands-first when they’re upright, face-first when they’re not.

Bugs are nearly all hands-first, which is strange—but they are, when you think about it. Their first set of legs sticks out to the front, not to mention their antennae. A full third of a spider arrives before its face.

(I don’t have a point, in case you were waiting. I just…I spent most of last night translating everything I hate into Russian, and somewhere between “Я ненавижу твое лицо” and “Я ненавижу этих вонючих коров в поле,” it occurred to me that I’d hate to be a face-first animal. (No, I can’t say that in Russian. I can hardly make sense of it in English. But I would. I would hate that. I would hate that very much.)

…also, how would you pronounce “коров в поле”? That looks awkward, like…”korovvvvvvvvvvvvvvv-v-polye.” Maybe I translated it wrong. It doesn’t look right.

(Cows are face-first animals, but because they don’t move much, it’s probably not a disadvantage. And their noses are big, so they can bump them without pain.)

Korovvvvvvvvvvvvvvvvv-v-polye. Ha, ha, ha.