It was 1992, and my husband Igorovich insisted we drive to the Wisconsin Cheese Farm to photograph shelves and glassed in cases of cheese, no abundance of lack as in our city, Dnepropetrovsk, where cheese was called sere to my American ears.

We were newly on our honeymoon and I was to bring Igorovich back to my home in Boston, to a family which prided itself on their standing within the generations. My great grandfather had been Sheriff of Suffolk County in the early 1900s, and with a name like “Keliher,” I gathered he’d come over before the potato famine.

But history or generational placement was far from my mind, that hot day when odors of cows and an occasional sniff of sweet grass relieved the tedium of flat stretch after flat stretch of highway, only relieved by country stores, with 12 empty rocking chairs lined up as if to say hello, come to Cracker Barrel and find root beer candy, sarsaparilla drinks from the past.

But no, Igorovich, as I was soon to learn was a “pusher,” and a bull dog, and I a small Chihuahua personality myself, was not match to his drive and intention. But it wasn’t all “plocha” awful, that day as we drove off the highway ramp, the only Edsel for miles, the only car for miles, because I had heard of a writing group on the “net,” as they say.

We parked in the dusty graveled parking lot, headed towards a low slung, ranch style building covered in a wine-colored wood, and as we opened the air conditioned doors, air, cold air blasted us back an inch or two.

Igorovich was rubbing his meaty hands together, reverting to Russian, “Horoshow, Horoshow,” which to my 2 year old level of Russian meant good. What was it about me, my tiny, small persistent personality? I always feel for men in uniform, and Igorovich met me in the open air market (a euphemism for shock of beef on hooks, wedding gowns next aisle over, potatoes which looked abused, and I was asking for Smetana, and Sleevki, one or the other, they are dairy products, don’t have my smetanas and sleevki’s down. That’s three year old language level.

It was love at first sight, and I called him Sleevki Igor, and now cheeses and abundances of the dairy kind led me to a serendipitous moment of great impact, almost as great as meeting my beloved Sleevki Igor, but not quite – nothing could replace the smell of raw beef, a handsome young man bending over my tiny form, sweat on his neck, a delightful clean smell of sweat, and muscled arms, oh a girl could go far in those muscled arms.

There inside the Wisconsin Famous for Its Cheeses door, the air conditioning pushing cow ears back, was someone in an enormous cow uniform. The cow had human legs in the front, and cardboard legs resting on a cheese barrel with lots of miniature sculpted baby cows around his tale, as if to say, “I’m prolific,” and “All us cows do our dairy best,” and so while Igor ambled around more cheese shelves than he had seen in his life, and was blasted away by the “how may we lay our lives down in service for you employees,” I sauntered up to the Cow.

How is it, there’s a figure in there. Who are you. Well the cow must have been embarrassed, so a small voice laced trills and bass notes, said I’m today’s new Cheese Representative, and todays, my first day on the job. What’s good, I said, slowing myself into what was going to be a rolling dialogue/monologue, repartee, Camembert or Cheddar ?

The cow’s voice dropped several octaves, almost like the sounds on the planet we can’t hear and said, “Look lady, I’m a writer, and an umployed one at that. For cheese’s sake, don’t push me.”

You are a writer, you in the cow suit, by this time I gathered he was a man.

Yes, and because he was in a cow suit and was a writer, I shouted behond the pickles and ham slices rolled up drolley besides the Swiss cheese, and called, “Igorovitch, Igorovitch, Ididi, my word for go which meant to Sleevki Igor, come here, as it was the only motion word I knew.

Well Igor and I love people in suits, or uniforms, and a man in a cow uniform on his first day at work, and on our first time in a famous Cheese Factory was the beginning of a propitious relationship.

It turned out, this writer and many others whom he knew would turn out bon mots of the laugh and lie down with your belly to the floor, and I learned through this man, “Steve,” whom Sleevki Igor called “Steevovitch Seritskee” became a life time friend, and in the future we would venture to lands like Kansas, and Boston, my family loved cheese, and then in our later years, we would find a small pool house, which fit our immigrant hearts, and to our delight, we would discover Steevovitch Seritskee was now a famous writer, but he lived still in his modest family home in temple City and we were horoshow (good).

Advertisements