A group of college boys find out that life isn't like the movies.
|In almost any comedy set on a college campus there will be an incident involving the theft of the rival school’s mascot. In many cases, the mascot is a farm animal of some sort, such as a pig or a goat or occasionally a horse. The comedic value of a horse standing in the middle of a dorm room is hard to beat. Real life is not like the movies, however, and stealing a goat is never as simple as it’s portrayed on-screen.
We learned this lesson one afternoon several years ago when my roommate and best friend Brian, came home and threw himself onto our battered sofa. He sighed dramatically and stared up at the ceiling. “Well, Simon, my life is officially over. Catherine dumped me.”
“What? Why? I thought things were going great!”
“Her dad doesn’t like me. Doesn’t think I’m good enough or have enough ‘promise’ or something. I don’t know. All she said was she couldn’t see me any more because of him.”
Travis, our other roommate suggested, “You should get his goat.” His slow, stoned, but very serious voice drifted over from the far side of the room. Travis meant that literally. For reasons we never did learn, Catherine’s father had a pet goat. They lived just outside of the city and the goat had plenty of room to graze. He slept in the garage in a heated pen and seemed to be very happy and healthy.
And that is how it all started. The three of us shared Travis’ pot and a case of beer while we plotted revenge on behalf of Brian.
When you’re twenty-two and under the influence of cheap beer and cheap pot, even the most insane undertaking seems to be a very rational course of action. We piled into Travis’ brother’s car, at two in the morning, with no real idea what we’d do with the goat once we had it and only a faint idea of how we would kidnap the goat to start.
The execution of our loosely formed plan was much easier than we expected. The goat used a flap to go in and out of the garage if it needed to relieve itself or graze. This flap was locked at night, but it was just a simple one that was easy to jimmy from outside. The goat was also familiar with Brian so it only took a few minutes of coaxing to lure him out of his pen. Once he was in the yard, it was only a matter of picking up the goat and getting him into the car.
“Put him in the trunk,” Brian said, “so no one sees him.” He was already looking around wildly, certain we would get caught at any time.
Travis protested. “We can’t put him in the trunk!”
“That’s cruelty! He could be hurt back there. There’s, you know, stuff in the trunk. Get him into the back seat. I’ll hold him. Simon can drive.” Travis slid into the car and held out his hands. “Well?”
Brian relented and he and I shoved and Travis hauled this poor, stupid goat into the back seat. At this point, everything was going so great it was almost unreal. I couldn’t believe we were about to get away with this. Of course, we still had no idea what we were going to do with the goat.
“We’ll hold him hostage!” Brian shouted as he buckled himself in. “I’ll tell her dad that he gets the goat back when I can date Catherine again.”
I started the car and backed down the driveway. At the end of the drive, I smacked into their trashcan, knocking it over and sending it rolling down the street. In a panic, I hit the gas, backed up quickly, threw the car into drive, and squealed away from the scene of the crime.
The neighborhood came alive around us. House lights were turned on. Dogs started barking. The trashcan rolled into a car and triggered the alarm. We heard voices and my heart nearly stopped. I was convinced that we were about to run right into a police car or a dead end.
I turned a corner. And then I turned another corner. And suddenly we were on the interstate. The suburb was falling further and further behind us with each minute that passed. Unfortunately, the noise, the fast turns, and the three of us screaming must have upset the goat. The goat started screaming. Bleating. Braying. Whatever you call the noise a terrified goat makes, it was making that sound as well as kicking and thrashing.
Travis tried to hold the goat down, but the goat head-butted Travis, knocking his head against the window. Brian turned around to try to grab the goat and singed the goat’s ear with a cigarette. As the smell of burnt hair filled the car, I flipped the switch in the center console to lower the windows.
“No!” Brian hit the switch to close them all again. “He could get out!” Brian groped for the car’s air conditioner. In the process, he turned on the radio. “Mr. Wendal” by Arrested Development came blasting out of the speakers.
“Fucking hell! Guys!” Travis was shouting over the din. “Guys! This goat is crapping all over the place back here.”
“What do you want us to do about it, Trav? Huh?” Brian was bellowing. I turned down the music, turned on the air conditioner, and tried not to gag at the combined smells of goat shit, burnt goat hair, and the stench of our beery sweat.
“Okay”, Travis panted. “Okay, I’ll think of something. This will be fine. Just keep driving.”
I drove onward, heading in the direction I thought would take us back to the city. I’d apparently missed the exit at some point and we were on the highway that looped around the city. “I think we’re lost, guys. I don’t know where I’m going.”
“How can you not know where you’re going?” Brian asked.
“I’m not from around here! I haven’t driven this way before, ever. I don’t know where I am, therefore we. Are. Lost.”
Brian turned around to talk to Travis. “Man, do y… oh my fucking God! Travis!”
“What? What’s he doing?” I tried to turn around, but I didn’t want to take my eyes off the road.
“I’m not naked!”
“You’re naked from the waist down. That’s naked.”
“Trav”, I tried to keep my voice as calm as possible under the circumstances. “Why are you naked?”
“I’m not naked!”
Brian jumped back into the discussion. “Why are you without pants, then?”
“I’m trying to put my underwear on the goat to keep him from crapping all over everything.”
“For the love of God, put your pants back on!”
“This is my brother’s car, Bri! He’ll kill me for this. He doesn’t know we have it!”
“Course he doesn’t know. No one knows we kidnapped a goat.”
“The car, Brian. He doesn’t know I took his car. He’s going to fucking kill me.” His words were interrupted as the goat started chewing on the upholstery and trying to dig its way through the back seat.
“You mean you’ve got me driving a stolen car with a stolen goat in it? That’s it. That is it. I’m through. You deal with this yourself.” I pulled the car over and started to get out. Before I could get the door open, a police car pulled up beside me, blocking the front of the car.
“Son”, he said as he stepped up to the window, “Do you have any idea how fa… oh my God what the fuck is he doing?”
Travis was lying across the back seat with the goat between his legs, the rear end of the goat aimed toward his face. He had his underwear up the goat’s legs and was trying to wiggle the goat’s tail through the fly. The goat’s head was between his knees, chewing at the upholstery. Goat shit was everywhere. “It’s not what it looks like, I swear!” Travis squeaked and tried to push the goat away.
“I don’t care what it is or what it isn’t. You three are coming with me.” The officer watched us carefully while he radioed for backup. He kept one hand on the butt of his gun, as if he expected us to draw weapons or make a break for it. Brian was sitting in the passenger seat rocking back and forth, white as a sheet. Travis put his jeans on, half-heartedly dropping little clumps of goat poop through two inches of open window. I sat behind the steering wheel, clutching it tight enough to turn my knuckles white. We had a stolen car that I was driving under the influence. We had a goat wearing underwear and a half-naked man in a stolen car that reeked of beer, sweat, and goat shit. The longer I thought the more complicated the situation seemed to become. How would we explain all this? What would happen to us?
Suddenly, Brian began screaming and flailing his arms. “Fuck!” he shouted as he kicked and beat the dashboard and the side panel with his fists. “Fuuuuuck!”
“Bri, it’s going to be fine. Chill.” I tried to calm him down but he wasn’t hearing any of it. He thrashed and railed. During his spasm, he managed to hit the power window button, completely opening all four at once. The goat, smelling fresh air, sensed his freedom and made a jump for it, launching himself from Travis’ groin. His back legs got caught in the window. Travis grabbed for the goat. The goat pulled free and tore across the highway. Fortunately, at three in the morning, there was almost no traffic on this stretch of the highway. The goat made it safely to the median, where he stopped to graze.
The officer added a count of “livestock loose on a highway” to his call and turned to us again. “Don’t think I’m going to go chase that fucking thing so you can get away!” He shook his finger and shouted, turning bright red.
“I don’t think he should be chasing anything,” Travis muttered. “He’ll have a heart attack.”
“I heard that!” The officer ordered us into his patrol car. He didn’t handcuff us. I think the idea of touching us when we were covered in goat shit may have disgusted him a little.
We sat there, side-by-side, drawing shallow breaths. We could hear sirens in the distance. Two more police cars and the animal control van showed up. Our officer (we’d begun to think of him as “our officer”) stood outside the cruiser, glaring in at us, one hand still on the butt of his gun as he conferred briefly with the others. Several more police cars showed up. Soon they had the highway blocked in both directions and animal control began to make their way toward the goat, who was still grazing, oblivious to the trouble he’d caused us.
After a short chase, the animal control guys got the goat and loaded him into the van. Our officer was more than happy to dismiss the other officers and take us to the police station. The ten-minute ride seemed to take forever and eventually we found ourselves sitting in hard, plastic chairs, drinking weak coffee from waxy paper cups. The officer filled out paperwork and forms, typing with only two fingers. He took down our names and addresses and was finally ready for our statements.
“Well, you see,” I started.
“My girlfriend dumped me,” Brian added.
“And there was this movie about these guys,” Travis continued.
I spoke up again. “Real life is not like the movies, however.”