Wednesday, November 24, 2010


a "hairy dairy" story of "dumb young kids," and children too

by Michael Dennis Mooney

My dad is so weird! He's always popping in at the house, not to come home, but just to stop by when he's on his way somewhere, talking really fast. I can tell he's under pressure, trying to get a lot of things done, errands, that sort of thing. And do I want to go with him?

What? No! I'm in the middle of something!

I'm about to nail down the zillionth quadrillionth level of the Zoo Tycoon game. Or I'm making fifty drawings of every known kind of dragon-- scaly, winged, razor-clawed, red, flame-throwing, poop-dropping (wait, I didn't say that!)-- and the drawings are scattered all over.

And my dad wants to know if I want to go with him to get a haircut?

Uh, no! I don't think so!

So my dad came home this one time, and he said to my mom, "I'm just stopping in. I'm going over to Harry Gochee's Garage. Does Zachy want to go?" I was about seven years old at the time.

"Mmmm? Don't know." Mom was sipping her coffee, clearing the cobwebs, as she says.

Dad was talking busily about car inspection, and Mom was not listening. Dad was pouring himself a coffee, scanning the weather on TV-- flurries were about to fall on our daffodil shoots-- and loosening his jacket on a chilly Saturday in March. He was in a hurry.

I piped up. "No, Dad, I don't want to go. I'm planning to put my new Bionicles together." (Bionicles, you inquire? Think of Legos with moving parts that represent eerie alien life forms when assembled.)

"Mom, did Dad just say he's going to Hairy Goat Cheese Garage?" Mom was starting to balance her checkbook, frowning, not really listening.

"Yep. He did."

Dad was not listening either.

Heck, I myself never really listen. The whole family might as well be deaf! My dad has said that many times.

"Harry might call," Dad said. "I'll be on my cell phone."

"Huh? Okay," Mom said absently.

Dad turned to me. "Zachy, sure you don't want to go? We could go for pancakes at Four Corners Lunch? How about blueberry pancakes?"

"No, Dad. I want to stay here and play. I'll make Hot Pockets." I was always a real microwave chef. Press a couple of panels, watch the numbers tick down, and you're eating.


I snuggled my chair up next to my mom's, where she sat contemplating checks (and balances) and clearing cobwebs in her big warm robe while sipping "a bit of the fresh brewed."

Dad headed out the door, my dog Chocky shadowing too closely and sniffing at his sleeves and pockets. Chocky is a brown lab and "a pain in the posterior," my dad says. Dad eased out of the muddy, puddled dip at the end of our dirt drive and onto the road in his car, a dark green Jetta.

Then I began assembling a new Bionicle figure and I started to think. What a weird name that place has, Hairy Goat Cheese Garage!

Dad must have been kidding. I didn't picture it as a place here in town, like the Mobil station, all shiny and tidy, with rows of those cheesy crackers I love and a glass cases full of Pepsi in plastic bottles.

No, I pictured a very untidy place in the country-- with goats!

I daydreamed and daydreamed. Hairy Goat Cheese Garage.... was a place out in the middle of farm country, far from town and hard to find, along a winding and bumpy narrow road. It was a converted barn with a big old packed-dirt parking lot, a Coke machine out front with a metal bottle opener screwed to it. And goats.

There were goats, hay in their mouths and hay hanging from their scruffy beards, in the open bays of the garage. Goats wandering in and out as the mechanics there changed tires and jacked-up cars for lube and oil jobs.

In the office, next to an old manual cash register, there was a low refrigeration case with cellophaned packages of goat cheese for sale, cheap. You could get a nice big package for two dollars and a half.

The package label said, "HAIRY GOAT CHEESE-- from furry undisgruntled goats." Hairy Goat Cheese Garage was, as my dad would say, very "low tech."

There was a picture of a smiling goat critter on each package with a piece of straw hanging out of his mouth, wild beast horns curving back above his curly unruly hair, one sharp-pointed cloven hoof held to the side of his face.

He looked as if he were thinking. Whatever he was thinking, it was making him giddy, probably about head-butting someone. Or eating their Red Sox hat.

I was having a fine waking dream of a goat running away with the tire-change crowbar-- and then I was entertaining such questions and such wonders as...

Is Hairy Goat Cheese a cheese which is hairy? Would you, say, peel off the fur part, like a rind, then eat the cheese? Or is it dairy produce from hairy critters? I found the first of these, "cheese which is hairy," way more entertaining.

Then the phone rang. It woke me from my dreaming. Mom was in the laundry room, amid a static-y tidal wave of dried, unfolded clothes piled head high. I picked up the phone.

Hey, maybe it was Jeff. I'll tell Jeff about "hairy dairy."

The person on the phone asked for my dad and he said he was from Hairy Goat Cheese Garage-- just like my dad had said!

"This is Harry Gochee's Garage," said the voice on the phone, an oddly pitched, quavering, piping, crackle-y voice. Immediately I pictured in my imagination a gentle, distinguished older man talking. He sounded to me like someone who spent his time with frisky, gruntly goats. He sounded happy and relaxed.

The Goat Cheese Garage man wanted my dad to know his car was ready. The piping, crackle-y voice said, "Only needed a half a quart of oil." He sounded pleased. "Brakes, belts, lights, tires, everything is fine." He sounded happy the car did not need fixing.

Dad was going to owe him about $1.83 for the half a quart. (Hey! Maybe my dad would get a free cheese.)

I told the man my dad was on his cell phone.

"Oh, jeez, I've got to call the other number. See ya, young lad," said the Hairy Goat Cheese man.

I hung up the phone. Then I drifted into a daydream of goats.

Goats trying to climb trees. Not able to get their back legs off the ground. Then head-butting the trees.

Goats playing football with no helmets. Wearing numeraled wool sweaters like in the old days.

Goats like old professors, wearing goatees. Looking rather lost in deep thoughts and abstracted ruminations. Had they forgotten much of what they used to know?

Goats in wool coats, like bankers too rich to worry.

Goats in tap shoes going clatter-clatter in the parking lot.

Goats rolling tires, nudging them forward with their mischievous laughing snouts at Hairy Goat Cheese Garage.

Goats like rock stars too crazy busy and frenetic to fret about being ugly.

Young white chin-whiskered "kids" splatting in oil-puddles. Getting their wool really oily and dingy. Young goats the color of dirt. But really happy to be dirty.

Goats simply not caring if they will ever have a bath. Until maybe someday they get to roll in snow drifts. Or roll in pans of white paint! Or jump in a creek.

I went on and on.

Goats in bathing suits. Goats on a crazy tire-swing above that creek.

No! Goats skinny dipping in their bleached woolen underwear on a flurrying late-March day.

When my dad came home I said, "I want to go to Hairy Goat Cheese Garage."

"Next time," Dad said.

"Did you get any goat cheese?"

"That's funny," he laughed.

So the next time we went for a haircut my dad pointed-out the "Gochee's Garage" sign, right there on the main street in town, a couple doors down from the haircut place. In fact, it was right next to the Mobil.

We went in, and I met Harry. He was a good-natured older gent. There were no goats playing silly tire-rolling games, there was no refrigeration case, and no cheese. It turns out Harry sells cars. "Auto sales and auto maintenance." That's how his sign reads.

"Harry's very old school." My dad approved.

"Old School? Dad, did Harry go to the old middle school when it used to be the high school?"

"You know, he probably did, in the 1940's. But 'old school' means schooled in the old ways, how things used to be done, according to honored customs."

One thing I noticed about Harry, he had a piping, bleating voice, and curly, wooly, unruly hair. But I didn't say anything about it.

And this is nearly the very long-haired hairy end of my shaggy goat tale.


But wait! One more part to the story.

Later in the Spring we went to the Four Corners on a Sunday. It was Mother's Day, and my dad was joking with the waitress. He ought to be serving her coffee, he said. She joked right back, took her apron off, plopped her pad and pencil down, and sat with us. And we all waited laughing til the other waitress came around.

Eventually, when they were done horsing around, Mom got the Mediterranean Momelet. Mom said the Mediterranean was "eggs, tomatoes, olives and feta." I said the Mediterraneans are awful strange. I got the pancakes, plain, with no butter, just maple syrup, and milk to drink.

Dad pointed to the "Chevre And Scallion Omelet" listed on the menu. "I'll have the goat and onion," he said. He is so weird!

So I said, "Make sure the goat's well done." I ate Dad's toast with jam, and he ate half of one of my pancakes. And he must have been hungry, because he ate some of Mom's potatoes, which she was leaving, because she was "not sure beeyooteeful glamorous Mediterraneans would eat home-fried potatoes."

And the stuffed moose on the wall above the perpetually unlit fireplace was grinning stupidly, as were we all.

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