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Rich Knoblich

Second Place

Rich Knoblich


Rich Knoblich of Wheeling, second-place winner. Photograph by Michael Keller.

Well, I’d like to tell you a little bit about Taylor Lewis. You see, the Lewis dairy farm, it sits right up against the old homestead up on the mountain.

One night, Taylor was sitting there watching a PBS documentary titled “Beauty Secrets of Phyllis Diller.” Well, she got so motivated by that show that, as soon as it was over, she called up the sponsor — the Monongalia and Monongahela Magic Makeup & Spackling Compound Company. You may have heard their slogan — “Crack a smile or a wall, we smooth out life’s wrinkles.” Well, she ordered the 12-week, home-schooling, beauty cosmetic course.

When the 52 cases arrived, she stored it out in the paint shed. It was at that point that she realized she had a problem. You see, she didn’t have any sisters that she could practice on. Then she had a brainstorm. She went in and talked it over with Mom, and Mom gave her approval. Each day, [Taylor] would go down to the paint shed, and she would load up that wheelbarrow with a variety of cosmetics and Dad’s painting equipment. She’d then trundle the whole load on out to the pasture to where the cows were.

Each day, those docile animals would allow her to pluck their eyebrows and curl their lashes. She’d open a one-gallon can of blue eye shadow, dip in a four-inch house brush, and slather it across their eyelids. She’d take the roller and put it back and forth in that pan, and she’d smear blush all over their jowls. Then she’d take a tube of lipstick and toss it into a caulking gun and ratchet it up, come up to those big cow lips, and smear gaudy red lipstick all over them.

Well, you can imagine how they looked. It looked like Pablo Picasso painting these cows. Picture, if you will, an entire herd of cows looking like Tammy Faye Bakker on Halloween.

Well, you see, she analyzed what was wrong. And ladies, you can understand. You see, some of those cows had an autumn-colored complexion. Others were a late-spring complexion. Well, once she balanced that out with the proper foundation, let me tell you, those cows were looking beautiful. They looked like Hollywood stars of yesteryear. From their long, lush lashes to their soft pouty lips, those cows were the essence of bovine beauty.

Now, you are probably wondering if her dad had anything to say. No. Truth of the matter is, Dad thought he was the cause of this transformation. You see, the same show that Taylor had been watching, he was over there in his easy chair reading his favorite cattleman’s periodical — Golden Veal magazine. He heard that narrator on that show talk about that little beauty secret where they take a little dab of Preparation H, put it on a wrinkle, tighten up the skin, and give you that smooth porcelin complexion. He thought to himself, “You know, if I mixed that in with my cows’ bag balm, I’d have the finest looking udders in the state for my cows.”

So, he sent away to one of those Mexican “no questions asked” pharmacies, got himself a whole truckload of that ointment, mixed it in, applied it to his cows, and wouldn’t you know, week by week, he saw the transformation. Those cows started looking beautiful. Why, he nicknamed this one particular cow “Moorlyn Monroe.” Then he got this idea. He looked over at that bull, and he thought, “Yeah, I wonder if I applied it to that bull if he’d start looking like ‘Fred Asteer.’”

Well, time came for the county fair, and Dad, he entered “Moorlyn.” Mom, she made one of her specialties — one of those delightful cream pies. And to celebrate her daughter’s work with cosmetics, she decorated that pie so it looked just like one of those cows. Then Mom added her own touch — she added a couple of little angel wings on it, because her pies tasted so heavenly. Well, Mom was running late. She called to Taylor to take the pie on in.

Taylor picked up the wicker basket and went on down to the festivities. When she got there, she had time to cut through the agricultural building to see how the judging went. Well, she was standing there by the cow, and here comes the judge — an elderly lady respected in the community named Granny Gertrude. Well Granny Gertrude, she came on down, and she stood there, and she stopped. First at Taylor, then at the cow, back at Taylor, back at the cow. It seems beauty and the beast were both wearing identical makeup.

Well Granny, she kinda got that sly grin on her face. She reached down and picked up a red ribbon, and she reached over and clipped it on Taylor’s dress. Then she laughed and turned and walked away. Taylor, she looked down at that red ribbon, and she got mad. She’d never gotten a red ribbon before. She figured if you’re going to tag a ribbon on me, it oughta be “best of show.” She reached into that wicker basket, and she pulled out that pie her mom had so beautifully decorated, and she screamed out, “Hey Granny, you forgot something!” Then she winged that pie like Nolan Ryan working on a no-hitter. Well Granny, she heard her name being called out and whirled around and saw that pie coming, and she ducked down just in time.

This is where I come into the story. I hear this commotion going on back behind me, and I turned around. And friends, all I remember seeing was this angel — big as a cow — coming at me at 90 miles an hour, gaudy red lips all puckered up ready to deliver the kiss of death. I barely had time to scream out “holy cow” before it hit.

Well, wouldn’t you know there was a photographer for the Intermountain Echo Daily News, and he took my picture. It ran the next day — front page, above the fold. But I figured I was safe. I had all that cream goop on my face. Nobody could sit there and recognize me and ridicule me. It’s like the good book says, “Pride goeth before you read the caption,” and the caption said, “Alleged storyteller and known BS’er Rich Knoblich is shown getting a cow pie in the face.”

Well, I tell you friends, they all just teased me unmercifully about my cow-pie facial after that. But I’ll tell you one thing, I believe I came out ahead of Taylor’s dad. Because when all those bills came in for those ointments and cosmetics, you might say he got left holding the bag.