Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Treed, or rather staircased

Now that's an enigmatic title, isn't it? Don't you hate when bloggers do that? Suck you in with some crazy-sounding title so that curiosity overwhelms you and you just HAVE to click on that link to see what on earth it could possibly mean? Staircased? What the heck is that?

Are you curious yet? Are you really curious? Yes? Well then, you'll just have to keep reading to find out.

Back in the late 80's my boyfriend had finished college and moved to Israel. Not wanting to be separated I made arrangements to spend the year here as well on a junior year abroad program. A year abroad program rather, I was only a sophomore, which is a completely irrelevent detail. Anyway...

Midway through the year my parents came over for a visit. Since they had never been to Israel before we planned a full itinerary. One of the places on our list was the city of Zfat (Safed) in the north of Israel.

To understand this story you have to understand Zfat. Zfat is a small, remote city on a mountaintop in the far north of the country, well-removed from the crush of the big city rat race; its remoteness and elevated location give it a decidedly small town feel. The type of town where if you sneeze in one neighborhood they say bless you in another. Zfat has for hundreds of years been a center for the study of kabbalah, Jewish mysticism, and is home to a number of ancient synagogues. It's a quiet, spiritual sort of place. History literally seeps from the very stones of the Old City, a rabbit's warren of tangled streets and alleys with doorways and staircases to upper story apartments jutting out at wildly improbably angles. Surrounding this small mountaintop city are empty, rocky hills.

Ok, now that we've got that out of the way we can continue with our story. Where were we? Oh yes, Jay and I were showing my parents around Israel.

Our itinerary had us staying overnight in Zfat. My parents decided to soak up some local atmosphere by attending Friday night services at one of the ancient synagogues. I was a bit concerned about their ability to navigate through the Old City, so I decided to walk them over.

I escorted them to the synagogue and then headed back to the hotel. I hadn't gone more than a few blocks when I turned a corner to find myself face to face with a big, giant COW! Right there in the middle of the Old City!

I stopped in my tracks.

I don't know how many of you are country folks, but I most certainly am not. I had never come face to face with a cow before, and let me tell you those things are HUGE. I was terrified, sure that it was going to stampede me. I'd wind up dead in that alley, gored to death by a runaway cow.

I stood there shaking as I evaluated my options. I had to get past the cow to get back to my hotel, but there was absolutely no way I was going to get up close and personal with that beast.

It looked at me and lowered it's head. My inner dialogue went into hyperdrive.

Oh god, it's going to stampede. Isn't that what they do right before they stampede? I'm dead, that's it, I'm dead. It's going to stampede me! Help!

Hold on. Wait! There are stairs behind me! Cows can't climb stairs, can they? I've never seen a cow climb stairs! I'm sure they can't climb stairs! They can't climb stairs, can they?

I quickly decided I had no other options and I dashed up a rickety metal stairway. I stood on that stairway for a good 15 minutes waiting for that cow to decide to move along. It wouldn't budge. Finally, after what felt like an eternity, it turned a little. It still hadn't left, but at least it wasn't still looking at me like I was dinner. I gathered up my courage and what was left of my wits, raced down the stairs and made a mad dash around the corner! Whew! Safe! I'd made it. I wasn't going to be the main course in a cow buffet after all.

I ran all the way back to the hotel and collapsed on the bed, gasping for breath and scaring the daylights out of my boyfriend. I finally recovered enough to tell him of my brilliant escape, only to have him dissolve into utter hysterics! I thought he was going to choke he was laughing so hard. Here I thought I'd get sympathy and understanding, or at the very least a cup of tea and a "there, there dear" only to have him laugh in my face! Not only did he feel it necessary to point out that 1) cows eat grass, and 2) one cow cannot stampede, HE DIDN'T EVEN BELIEVE ME THAT I'D SEEN A COW!!! He had the nerve to insinuate that perhaps it was a dog, or maybe even a large cat, or perhaps just a child's tricycle left in the alley, because of course cows simply do not wander the streets of Zfat, not even in the Old City. To add insult to injury when my parents returned and heard my sorry tale they too collapsed in a fit of uncontrollable laughter, refusing to acknowledge even the mere possibility that a cow grazing on the nearby hillside had wandered into the city and blocked my way.

It's been 19 years since I was treed staircased by that terrifying beast and my family STILL refuses to believe me. Whenever they hear of some farfetched story they liken it to the imaginary cows of Zfat and dissolve into fits of laughter all over again. I married the boyfriend, too, who gets great delight out of telling our children how mommy sees imaginary cows whenever we pass a sign pointing to Zfat. I'm a broken woman I tell you.

You believe me though, don't you?

This story has been submitted to This Eclectic Life's This Post Blows My Dress Up! contest, on the theme "scared silly", because if a freak run-in with a ferocious girl-eating cow wouldn't scare you silly I don't know what would.



Psst... It won! Thank you very much to Damien of Postcards from the Funny Farm for choosing it and of course to Shelly for having such a fun contest.

Be sure to check out the other entries - they were fantastic! I'm really flattered to have mine chosen with such steep competition.

KatelynJane’s Notebook Scared Silly
SusieJ entered Definitely something foul going on over there…from her archives.
Crystal at Song Of My Soul entered from her archives
“Hey, at least I can laugh at myself, right?”
Marcia, at Tumbled Words “The mask, three prompts combined.”
Jessica at Life As I See It It’s Here
Penelope At Cafe at the End of the Universe
“The Bathtub Below.”
Cyn at Rage Against The Cliche “The Tears of the Phoenix.”
Amy Palko at Lives Less Ordinary “Scare Silly By The Fairies.”
Cindee at CiNdEe’s GaRdEn “How I Scared My Daughter Silly.”
The Wandering Author “Wake Up, Little Susie.”


Carol Anne said...

LOL! Thanks I needed that! I believe you Robin, but was going to point out that cows are herbivores;)

My parents owned a beef farm during much of my childhood. One weekend a college friend came home with me. We were enlisted to help herd the cows from one pasture to another. As she got close to the cows, my friend got very nervous. My mom told her she had nothing to worry about and just look them straight in the eye to show them who's boss. My friend replied, "no offense ma'm but that advice would be much more helpful if I were facing down a mugger on the streets of Manhattan"

My family loved it when I brought my college friends home, they were always good for a laugh!

Janet said...

It might've been a vampire cow, in which case, you were totally within your rights to RUN AWAY!!!

Claremont First Ward said...

THe gift you have for telling stories is certainly unique, and I feel truly blessed today to have become privy of the real story of the cow and the staircase. LOVE it.
P.S. I believe you.

Anonymous said...

I believe every word you say! As a storyteller, I know that every story is true...some of them just haven't happened yet! LOL! Great entry, Robin.

What I can't believe is that you thought a hamburger on the hoof was going to have you for dinner!

You crack me up

Anonymous said...

First and foremost, I do believe you. But I do have to let you in on a little secret: cows CAN climb stairs, they just can't go back down. Something about funky knees or something. Now, this may be a myth, but until I see it debunked on Mythbusters, I'm believing it. So you could very well have been "staired" by a cow and not been able to get around it and back down. ; )

Memarie Lane said...

I was attacked by a friend's dog once. I was alone in the room with the dog, so no one saw it, by the time they answered my screams the dog was long gone and I was just laying there covered in blood. To this day my friend believes that I deliberately provoked the dog somehow. Know what I was doing at the time? Watching TV and scratching him behind the ears.

Anonymous said...


Hey Robin ~ did I ever tell you about the time when I was three years old and saw Santa flying away on his sleigh?!

Unknown said...

I absolutely believe you. Cows like to wander. :)

You're such a great story teller, Robin!

Anonymous said...

I believe you!! LOL!
Reminds me of the time when I was in Mexico, feeding a baby cow,(they aren't really small, it still weighed more than a couple hundred pounds). When I ran out of food it came toward me, cornering me, that I started to yell for help, because it is terrifying! The family still brings it up for a good laugh!
Thanks for the laugh my friend! :)

Anonymous said...

yeah, well if you say so :)...one cow cannot stampede I think *GRIN*

Anonymous said...

Great writing, Robin, really had me laughing.

L^2 said...

LOL That's too funny! Cows do seem to have a habit of wandering though, so I'll believe you.
Good luck with the contest.

Scribbit said...

I believe you--of course my knowledge of cows and their habits is rather limited. I've never been close enough to one to notice if they can climb stairs.

Robin said...

Oh Marie, how awful. Bad enough to be attacked, but then to be unfairly blamed. Very unfair.

Irene said...

Great story. And yes, I completely believe you! I am a country girl now, and cows get out and wander around all the time.

But it is funny, because they are also pretty much the most docile animals around..usually.

Kim said...

I believe you too Robin. And I agree, cows are a little scary. They are just so BIG, they make me nervous. I had to feed some of my dad's cows a few weekends ago and I was not too thrilled. I was in and out as fast as I could be. It didn't help that he told me to be careful because they might be anxious to get to the feed bucket and try to knock me down!!!!

Robin said...

See, that's proof! They CAN stampede you LOL!

Lea said...

You bet I believe you!!!

I loved the story to get to the staircase and the cow...

Julia Phillips Smith said...

I definitely believe you, Robin. I once passed a cow walking along the sidewalk in a Toronto neighborhood, a very slow-moving police car trailing it. I was on my way to the subway. At first I thought, my god, that is a HUGE dog. Then I realized, no...it's a COW. And I kept going to the subway. Toronto's like that. You pass something bizarre, think to yourself, wow - that's weird, and keep going on your merry way.

Robin said...

Right in Toronto? How bizarre. Thanks Julia, I am so vindicated now!

Trish said...

What a great story! Good luck in the contest.

Anonymous said...

Cows are giant animals, they are quite scary in the right context. I liked the opening and I loved the image of you running. Do you ever wished you would have milked it? LOL Sorry ... Hey, great entry.
-Damien ('here comes the judge' Riley! ;)

Anonymous said...

Thanks again for entering this great story. Congratulations on your win. I sent the PayPal to you...let me know that you got it, because I don't trust it!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you won! Holy Cows... my relatives were all farmers, and I just loved this entry.

Gilit Frank said...

Hi Robin,

Great blog and hilarious post. Yes, I believe you. A few months ago I was hiking near Tiberias and saw a few cows on the other side of a fence. After an hour I ran into a cow on my side of the fence, but she looked harmless. Still, I was a bit nervous and walked down another path, but ended up near a few beehives. The week after that my neighbor found a poisonous Palestinian Viper snake in her backyard.

Hmm. mammals. insects. reptiles. (Is a snake a reptile?) Is someone trying to tell me something?

Keep up the good work!