Big Beautiful Cow 

A Sneak Peek

The previous fall, Diego left. “I do not like myself when I am with you!” were his dramatic departing words. “I feel like I am a suburban husband. I do not feel like an artist. I am an artist! And that is who I need to go be!”

Within an hour of his ridiculous getaway, Joanna’s younger sister May exploded through the front door of Joanna’s shabby apartment; arms full of vodka and pockets full of M&M’S. She was in a rage “I don’t like myself when I’m with you? Are you flippin’ kidding me?!” Since her son Leo’s arrival, May was desperately trying not to swear, her words a hodgepodge, “G”-rated assortment of “jeepers” and “yikes”.

May had not been fond of Diego in the first place. Really, the only person who had been fond of Diego, besides Joanna, was Diego. “That piece of crap.” May added, dropping her load onto the table and her dainty butt into a chair. She teased her locks of red-gold hair into a ponytail.

“He may be a piece of crap,” sniffed Joanna “but I love that piece of crap,” Joanna blew her nose loudly into a snotty shredded tissue, “and he was my piece of crap.”

May sprang to her feet and hugged Joanna, “Oh sweetie, I promise you, there is a man out there who is not a piece of crap, and he is your piece of crap.” She smoothed Joanna’s dark hair out of her bleary, blood-shot eyes.

A fabulous conglomeration of clichés was Diego. Of course, he was an artist; obviously vegetarian (except when he just HAD to have a hamburger) and noticeably exotic, or at least foreign. (Actually, in spite his apparent inability to speak using contractions, causing an odd but entirely fictional accent, Diego was raised in suburban San Mateo, barely two hours south from where they currently lived, a distinctly un-foreign location). He made women’s handbags, wallets, and coin purses out of recycled tires, vegan leather, hemp and feathers. Every weekend, along with dozens of other aspiring artists hawking their wire jewelry, belt-buckles and ceramics, Diego attempted to sell his creations to the students and professors, hippies, yuppies and suburban tourists crowding Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley.

Last Hanukah he gave May a wallet.

“What is it?” asked May innocently. She held the stiff, square, leopard-patterned pouch gingerly between two fingers.

“It is a wallet,” said Diego “for holding your money. See?” He gripped the corner and released the rickety zipper; exposing the sections for holding credit cards, pictures and change.

“How quaint,” said May grimly, “thank you.”

“May’s more a Kate Spade kind of girl,” Joanna explained apologetically.

For money, Diego worked for UPS.

The first time Joanna saw Diego she was sitting in front of her favorite coffee shop, nursing a double-espresso and a hangover, courtesy of an over indulgent wine tasting weekend with best friend Delia. It was just his brown uniformed butt sticking out of the brown UPS truck. She couldn’t take her eyes off the butt. It was round and firm and perfect, a gorgeous ripe peach. She was inspecting it so intently; it was startling when it began backing out of the truck. Joanna wondered if it was considered sexual harassment to stare at the UPS driver’s butt. She imagined being reprimanded by her boss, “It is not appropriate,” Helen would say, nervous fingers pawing at the buttons on her sensible blouse, “to stare at the bottom of the UPS driver. Please stop.”

Finally, the rest of the body followed the perfect butt. Tall, well, tall to Joanna was relative but this guy was at least 5’11”. Lean. Coffee-bean skin. Dark hair parted in the middle and smoothed into a thick short ponytail. Dark-chocolate eyes. This was one attractive UPS driver. Joanna’s mouth hung open (“Close your mouth,” May would have said if she were there) like an idiot and she lowered her sunglasses brazenly to get a better look. He swung a large cumbersome box effortlessly onto his impossibly broad shoulder and swept an escaping lock of hair behind his ear. Despite the chilly November breeze he wore shorts displaying strong, muscular legs.

As he walked into the coffee shop, Diego looked over said broad shoulder, and smiled a dazzling smile at her.

The following week Joanna was sitting at her desk, supposedly working on a dictation but actually searching for herbal colon cleanses on-line when in he walked, carrying a package and electronic UPS clipboard. “Hello,” he said, “I know you.”

Joanna was horrified. Had he known she had stared at his ass for a full five minutes and had fantasized about it on a daily basis since? What was he doing here?

Apparently, he was delivering a package.

“You are the coffee shop girl. I am Diego,” he extended his hand and she shook it. She still hadn’t spoken. “And your name is?”

“I’m Joanna,” said Joanna.

“Joanna. So nice to meet you,” he handed her the package and the clipboard to sign her name, “see you tomorrow,” he again smiled the dazzling smile, “Joanna.” The smile exposed a slight gap in his two bottom teeth and a hefty cleft in his chin. He really was perfect.

The next morning Joanna summoned her courage and boldly asked what happened to Joe, Diego’s package delivering predecessor. “I do not know for sure,” answered Diego “but I heard something about a breakdown. Package overload I guess.” And again with the smile…