by James Beamon
When the cows started wearing toupees, we laughed behind their backs. We weren't going to be impolite about it.
All of us understood the n'ermer were an advanced alien species, not really cows. After all, they walked upright, had four-fingered hands instead of hooves and wore clothes--these shiny garments which looked like tracksuits or garbage bags, depending on style. Still, they had cow fur, cow faces. After six months on Intergalactic Space Station Cooperation we had gotten used to them. Then these advanced beings with the cow-like fur and faces started wearing human hairpieces and walking through the space station like it was a summer fashion trend. How could we not laugh?
Then we learned those weren't toupees, but the scalps of humans they had killed during the war. Suddenly, it wasn't so funny.
My boss, Ambassador Tanner, nearly went rabid. He was an old school Texan who came to work in his corner of the joint station in a cowboy hat and bolo tie. A white-haired, gristled vet, he wasn't about to take orders from the n'ermer or "get steered by steers" as he put it.
"Goddamn beefies itchin' for another war?" Tanner asked me and his other aides as he stormed about his office. "Cause I ain't one to shirk from a cattle drive."
"We can always talk to them?" I offered.
"Can we?" Ambassador Tanner asked sarcastically. "Last thing I'm gonna do is rely on that janky ass translation software. That crap's worse than auto-correct. And last time I checked none of y'all have been trained to speak moo."
"How will they know we have a problem with what they're wearing if we don't say something, sir?"
Ambassador Tanner took his cowboy hat off and regarded me as if my brain was made of one cell. "I thought we hired you cause you were smart, Tyrone. Are you the diversity hire? We still doing that sort of thing? Son, you don't think they know wearing people parts is offensive to people?"
"So what do we do, sir?"