Day 13 12/25/04
I played ping pong with George today. He’s really good. They have a ping-pong table up in the barn. That’s where they hang out with their youth group sometimes. He has this incredible backhand serve with a crazy spin. He beat me about 5 times. I beat him once. We kept on asking each other what the rules were. He played Ping-Pong by the same rules I always played by. He asked if when the score is tied if we say “5 up” or whatever the number is. I said, “yeah, or 5 all.” It was fun.
He was showing me how to hook up my cell phone to the diesel generator. He had something called an “in-router”, I think. It had an electrical outlet. I was very happy because I didn’t think there was an electrical outlet within 2 miles. All of a sudden, Elizabeth started yelling his name, then something in German very fast. He looked up and said, “What the Frick?” We run outside, one of the Jersey cows got stuck in the manure pit between the manure sprayer and the wall. She had fallen in the hole halfway. It looked like this (insert picture). We had no idea how long she had been there. She had pooped all over her back legs and her head was the only thing keeping her from falling in. She was upset. George ran to go change his clothes, he had on his nice ones ready for the youth group. I stayed with the cow. It was kind of nice because I could touch her and she couldn’t move away like they normally do. I was caressing her face, petting her, saying “shhhh”, etc. I don’t know if it calmed her or not. George came back and we saw Peter and he came over. None of us knew what to do. I suggested hooking up a horse to her and pulling her out. They didn’t think that was a good idea. We thought of a lot of different ways, we finally put a yoke around her neck. We attached a rope to it and George and I pulled as hard as we could. It took about a minute and we finally got her out. She was shaking really bad. There was a cold wind, her knees were scratched and bloody. It was funny, George and Peter were arguing about the best way to get her out. A little father and son argument. It sounded like my dad and me, the way I talk back to him sometimes. She couldn’t walk for a couple of minutes and finally went back inside.
People started showing up for the youth group dressed really nice. George went and changed. We put the cow in a big pen inside with her two calves, hay and water. I felt good. It’s Christmas, I am living with the Amish and I am all alone. Albert and Marie left to go singing with their friends and I have the whole old house to myself. I went over to Peter's house, they were having a singing. Susan and Naomi’s youth group was there. Albert told me to get cleaned up (he meant it in a nice way) if I was going to go over. I got cleaned up the best I could. I don’t have any really nice clothes so I just put on a clean pair of pants and a dark grey sweater, I tried to make my hair look semi-nice. I didn’t shave because I’m trying to grow a beard to keep my face warm because it is so fricking cold. I rode Albert’s scooter other there. The 16 year olds were milling around. They seemed surprised to see me. I don’t think they expected to see an English there. I looked down, I felt uncomfortable looking them in the face. It seemed like they didn’t know whether to say hi to me or not. I walked in. There was more Amish and more of them were staring at me. I set my stuff down in a corner and went looking for a familiar face.
The house was filled with 100-200 Amish. All the men and boys were hanging out together and all the women and girls were hanging out together. It felt like the women were staring at me, or more like inwardly startled to see me. They tried not to stare. I saw Elizabeth and said hi. She showed me where to sit. I was feeling really un-comfortable. People didn’t know whether to say hi or not. This little Amish girl sitting in front kept turning around and staring at me. I sat next to a gentleman named Daniel, he was warm and friendly. All the Amish kids in the youth group walked by to shake everyone’s hand(1). Some of them didn’t know whether to shake mine or not. Some did and smiled; some barely touched mine and walked away. I remarked to Daniel that a lot of them had limp handshakes. He said, “Yeah, cold fish.” I laughed because he knew what that was. We both smiled.
All the girls looked alike. Same outfits, maybe slightly different colored dresses. Every girl had pretty much the same color. Same with the boys. Same haircut, same colored shirt mostly, same shoes etc. The girls sat on one end of the room, the boys on the other. I guess so they could look at each other and decide who their future mates would be.
They started singing beautiful songs in German. Daniel opened the book and put it where I could see it. He asked if I could understand it, I said no, but I would read anyway. The songs were very haunting and beautiful. All of them were in German which made them sound even more haunting. It took them a couple of minutes to finish each sentence, they sang so slowly. They would draw out each syllable to the max and sing it up and down the scale. It was really pretty.
Some of the Amish girls kept looking at me through the crowd of people. I was looking at a couple of them too. The unflattering dresses hide a lot, but you can still pick out the pretty ones. Many of the women were not pretty, many of the men were not handsome. I began to understand what Albert and Homer Adams meant when they said that a lot more illness and birth defects were starting to affect the Amish community. So many of the faces were right out of the Weston Price book. Crooked teeth, narrow faces, crowded arches, receding chins, messed up lower 3rd of the face. It was really prevalent. A lot of them just looked weird. I left after 30-45 minutes. I thanked Daniel for his kindness.