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My Idolatrous Dress…or Sometimes The Customer Is Not Always Right

Originally published in 2003

One fine morning in September, I was awakened from my sleep by Dear Son informing me that someone had stopped by the farm and wanted to buy a goat. We used to breed and show Alpine dairy goats for 4-H. Groaning, I crawled from the bed, performed the bare minimum of morning hygiene and slipped on a poly/cotton knit, red dress that was covered in small white stars.

I met the gentleman out by the pasture fence where he was talking with Dear Son. He was the typical older farmer I had seen locally….leathery face, small and stooped wearing khaki pants with a tidy plaid button down shirt and baseball cap. I introduced myself and we began to discuss the merits of the dairy goats and what he wanted the goats for. I pointed out their excellent bloodlines and milking history but was interrupted.

“I have no interest in papers and registries. They are idolatrous.”

“But a registry tells you how good an udder a doe will have, how much milk she is likely to produce. The number of stars in their pedigree indicates exceptional milkers…,” I explained.

“I’m not interested in bloodlines or any of that idolatrous registry stuff. I don’t care if they are show goats. God will give that goat as much milk as I need.”

Ooookay. I then pointed out which goats were for sale. He immediately dismissed Sylvia and wanted a price on two junior doelings who were clearly of a better quality than Sylvia. He was certainly no fool when it came to recognizing quality animals.

“How much fer those two?”, he said, pointing to the pair.

“One hundred dollars per goat.” These were quality goats from good bloodlines and I wasn’t about to sell them for less just because Mr. Farmer Dude had a theological objection to registered goats.

He turned to me and practically spat out his words, “You raise your goats in an idolatrous and evil way. If God had intended goats to be registered, they would be born that way. In fact, your dress you are wearing is idolatrous with those stars on it. God says we are not to make any graven images.”

Slightly taken aback by this turn of conversation, I replied, “My Bible says we are not to make graven images of God and worship them. I don’t worship stars.”

“Oh, yes, you do. Those stars are a graven image and your dress is an idolatrous worship of stars.”

Throughout my years in the South, I had encountered the occasional religious goof such as the cashier who had a fit of anti-Christ apoplexy over my $6.66 purchase total but never had I met such fire and brimstone resistance to an article of my usually very modest clothing. Mr. Goober was wearing a pink/purple plaid shirt and obviously saw no hypocrisy in wearing such a garment despite the fact that had God intended for pink and purple to align themselves into repeating columns of perpendicular lines, He would have created it that way. Clearly he was idolizing plaid and I needed to administer correction for the sake of his soul.

“Pardon me but it looks to me like you are worshiping plaid.”

At that comment, he turned on his heels without further ado and walked as fast as his decrepit old legs could toddle him back to his truck. He had been in the presence of an idol worshiping, star-wearing woman on a farm from the depths of Hades that bred demonic goats and he couldn’t make his exit from this evil fast enough.

“Have a nice day,” I cheerfully called after him while waving. He didn’t acknowledge me but climbed into his truck, sprayed gravel backing out the driveway and nearly got killed pulling out in front of a large semi-truck in his haste. I watched him depart with some sadness knowing that yet another deceived plaid worshiper had not come to a saving knowledge of polka dots and tie-dye.


Comments on this entry are closed.

  • hakayama August 27, 2014, 7:38 pm

    A cartoon that comes to mind regarding this situation is the following:
    Picture a stereotypical scene of patient on couch, psychologist/psychiatrist/analyst/(whatever) in a chair taking notes of the session. The caption reads: “Nuts. Just plain nuts”.
    “Farmer Dude” happened to be fixated on religion, and had a chance to pick on some not too obvious religious symbols to get all fired up. Since according to “those in the know” about 20% of us are “off” one way or another, the OP should be glad that the scene described ended the way it did.
    Common wisdom dictates that “you cannot argue with crazy”. It has nothing to do with etiquette, intelligence, common sense, logic, etc.
    In my own experience I’ve found it best to just fold, retreat and avoid any and all possible encounters.
    It would be great if we could recognize early on that things are off, and not engaging in futile dialogue of any kind.* Bean dipping to the rescue. 😉 However, when the problems develop gradually, we might not notice them too readily. It takes emotional and physical distance to make any sort of an evaluation. That may be why the proverbial “weakest member” can become a ruthless tyrant of a family unit.
    *And I mean ANY KIND, whether it’s pro or con the other party’s stand. If you just get sucked into it, your nerves run the risk of getting torn to shreds, especially if the interlocutor is someone for whom you may have had even a modicum of respect and/or affection.
    [Detractors of armchair diagnoses be blessed, let’s remember that schizophrenia does have many facets and degrees. Just one symptom should put us on the alert for more…]

  • Jay August 27, 2014, 8:39 pm

    This entry made me snort out loud laughing. Thank you.


    A saved member of the poly-cotton star dress sect

  • Rebecca August 27, 2014, 10:01 pm

    You did better than I would have, OP. I might have ordered him off my property, or called the cops, or the men in white coats, or whatever unit deals with nut jobs.

  • AngePange August 28, 2014, 3:17 am

    I was once consulting with a client for a new company I was working for in her home. She was making the most revolting comments about people of another race. However, because my boss was obnoxious, it was a new job and, after all, I was in her home, I didn’t say anything but just “grinned and bore it”. She made a particularly nasty statement, to which I politely said “oh my gosh” (the only thing I could think of to say) she started retching, raving and screaming about my blasphemy, and I, too shocked to know what she was talking about had to ask HOW I’d blasphemed. She started yelling that “gosh” is just covering up the evil of blasphemy, I obviously meant to take the Lord’s name in vain and had convicted myself to one of the nastier circles of hell. I apologised profusely but she refused to speak to me any further and another colleague had to go and finish the consultation. Luckily she never reported me to my boss. But as a Christian I’ve NEVER been called out on using the word “gosh” before or since!

    • hakayama August 28, 2014, 7:35 pm

      Did your firm get ripped off by that client?
      I ask because a worker was all rattled up by someone using a common vulgar word, but had no qualms about driving away with some hefty chunks of old lumber. Probably just did not see the conflict.

    • wren August 29, 2014, 7:31 am

      A Sunday school teacher told me all those exclamations were bad. Darn = damn. Gosh = God. Dang = damn. Golly = God. Oh my gosh = oh my God. Son of a gun = son of a b—h. And the big one: Phooey = f–k. She said basically that you can’t exclaim about anything. Even at the age of 8 I knew that she was being extreme.

    • Snarkastic August 29, 2014, 4:32 pm

      Why your company would consult with the ill-mannered and emotionally disturbed is beyond me. More trouble than it’s worth.

  • just4kicks August 28, 2014, 4:05 am

    Just last night, my teenage son’s who attend Catholic High School, told me that one of their teachers told them that “The Catholic church has come out against” the ALS ice bucket challenge. Of course, neither one of them had listened to why that is. I’m very curious as to know why. I told them both to pay attention today, because I am dying to know the Catholic church is against fund raising for a worthy cause, silly as it may be to some.

    • LadyStormwing August 28, 2014, 5:32 pm

      Just4kicks- The Ice Bucket Challenge was directly linked to the ALS Association, which supports embryonic stem cell research. There are ALS research groups out there that only use adult stem cell strains, which the Catholic Church is fine with. Generally, a group will state somewhere on its webpage if it supports ESC ressearch or not.

    • Inkcap August 28, 2014, 6:07 pm

      The Catholic Church is certainly not against the idea of fundraising, but for a number of reasons it does not support embryonic stem cell research (which the ALS Association does). I am Catholic myself, and many of my Catholic friends have participated when challenged but instead directed their donations to researchers who do not use embryonic stem cells. That way, they were able to give to very worthy causes which mean a lot to them, without compromising their own religious beliefs.

    • Leslie August 28, 2014, 6:30 pm
    • CW August 28, 2014, 8:07 pm

      Part of it is due to ALS uses stem cells in their research.

    • Ange63 August 29, 2014, 3:00 am

      Because it ‘conflicts with church teachings by funding embryonic stem-cell research’

    • StickChick August 29, 2014, 8:12 am

      I read that the RCC was against the ALS charity behind the bucket challenge because a small part of the research funding is used for embryonic stem cell research. Most of the research is done on stem cells, however.

      • admin August 31, 2014, 10:08 pm

        The issue is with FETAL stem cells, not adult stem cells.

    • Laura August 29, 2014, 9:33 am

      I imagine the church isn’t against the challenge itself but rather the stem cell research that is involved from the main charity the money has been going to. Churches in my conservative area have been doing the challenge but donating to an alternate charity that fits their pro-life views better.

    • DanaJ August 29, 2014, 9:45 am

      There is some Catholic and other Christian denominations who have only just realized that ALS research includes stem cell research.

    • linda August 29, 2014, 11:39 am

      I can actually answer this! The reason is that the ALS research being funded includes the use of stem cell research and the Catholic Church is against that. FYI former Catholic/total atheist here so just because I know this, doesn’t mean I agree 🙂

      • Daisy August 31, 2014, 10:12 pm

        The catholic church isn’t against ALL stem cell research, just ones that use ABORTED fetals, adult stem cells are A-OK.

    • Little Jo August 29, 2014, 12:18 pm

      Just4kicks as far as I know it is not the Catholic Church as in Rome says do not do it but the ASL is allegedly using or focusing on Stem cell research and that is against the Church views I am not RC and am only going on what few facts I have. I know that many RC priests have done the Ice Bucket Challenge.

    • Lyn August 29, 2014, 1:52 pm

      just4kicks — I believe that some of the research done for a cure for ALS uses aborted fetuses. I’m not sure about that, that’s just what I’ve been told.

    • j. August 29, 2014, 2:33 pm

      Stem cells.

    • whatsanenigma August 29, 2014, 3:45 pm

      My guess would be that one would have to dress very, very carefully to do that (get drenched with ice water) and not end up with something showing. It might end up like a wet tee shirt contest-even if in the absence of ice water, the outfit is perfectly appropriate. Even if the participant is male, it is possible that certain things might end up drawing attention to themselves in an inappropriate fashion.

      So, I’m assuming it’s a modesty thing. I haven’t watched many videos of people doing this challenge, but I bet there are some “wardrobe malfunction” doozies out there. And I imagine that the Catholic church doesn’t really endorse that.

    • JoAnna August 29, 2014, 3:48 pm

      It’s not an issue with the ice bucket challenge, per se, but rather the fact that the ALS Association promotes embryonic stem cell research. The Catholic Church believes it’s wrong to kill human beings at any stage of life, whether embryonic or otherwise. However, it’s fine for Catholics to participate in the ice bucket challenge as long as they donate and/or promote donations to research organizations that do not advocate for nor perform embryonic stem cell research, such as the John Paul II Medical Research Institute. You can read more here: http://ncbcenter.org/resources/the-ncbc-response-to-the-the-als-challenge

    • Daphne August 29, 2014, 4:02 pm

      It’s because the ice bucket challenge funds a charity that does stem cell research and Catholics believe stem cell research is tantamount to murder.

    • Angel August 29, 2014, 8:16 pm

      It’s because of the ALS research–supports the use of embryonic stem cells, the Catholic church doesn’t like this. They support the use of adult stem cells however.

    • iwadasn August 30, 2014, 1:06 pm

      If you’re curious, it’s because the ALS Association funds embryonic stem cell research, which conflicts with the Church’s beliefs.

    • rachel August 31, 2014, 3:03 am

      ALS has a study employing embryonic stem cell research. A quick Google search likely would have given this info.

    • Daisy August 31, 2014, 9:30 pm

      I’m Catholic, and the reason why the school is against it, is because the ALS association uses embryonic stem cells, which are gained through abortion, and that breaks the commandment “you shall not kill”. Catholics can do the Ice Bucket Challenge, but you just need to find a different organization to donate too. The problem is embryonic stem cells, not the Challenge.

  • Marozia August 28, 2014, 4:05 am

    If you raised your goats in such an idolatrous way, why did Farmer OldTestament want to buy them?

    • Cerys August 29, 2014, 4:43 am

      So he could separate them from the sheep?

  • Belgian Guy August 28, 2014, 8:13 am

    Maybe he was a member of the Westboro Baptist Church? 🙂

    • NostalgicGal August 28, 2014, 10:52 pm

      You owe me for a sprayed drink on my monitor and keyboard… roflmao…

  • Goldie August 28, 2014, 8:53 am

    I was at open mic comedy last night and I guarantee you, any of those comedians would’ve been happy to have come up with a phrase like “idolatrous goats”. Great story! And, what other commenters said, good for the goats – I wouldn’t trust this guy to take care of a living creature, he’s way too unhinged for that.

  • Karen August 28, 2014, 9:00 am

    Years ago, I worked in a small truck stop restaurant on the weekends. My shift was 10:00 p.m. to 6:00 a.m. One Sunday night we were packed due to a church revival. We were being run off our feet by all of the good religious folks. At one of my tables, an older gentleman asked me where I went to church on Sunday. I said I didn’t go to church, I was sleeping because I just got off a late night shift. He asked me, “What are you going to do if Jesus comes while you’re asleep?” I just looked at him and replied, “well, I guess he’ll have to wake me up.” They didn’t leave me a very good tip.

    • essie August 29, 2014, 9:26 pm

      “What are you going to do if Jesus comes while you’re asleep?”

      “I asked Him about that; He said He’d wait for me.”

  • Cat August 28, 2014, 9:11 am

    I always found this commandment rather confusing because of Numbers 21:6-9 wherein the Israelites are being plagued by poisonous snakes. God (same God as Exodus 20: 4-6) tells Moses (same Moses) to make an image of a snake, to put it on a pole, and everyone who looks at it will be cured of snake bite.
    Moses makes a bronze image of a snake which ends up in the courtyard of the Temple at Jerusalem where people offered sacrifices to it until King Hezekiah smashed it. (2nd Kings 18:4)
    If I had been Moses, I would have asked, “Didn’t you just tell me no graven images? What gives?” It would have solved a lot of problems if the Almighty had stuck to one set of instructions.

    • NostalgicGal August 29, 2014, 1:42 am

      I’ve asked a few different faiths, and the general consensus I got for this one…
      Moses was to put the snake on a pole, so people would look at it, looking up, and remember God, and He is the reason they will be healed, ask HIM for the cure and thank HIM for the cure. It was taken to the temple, and people forgot the reason and started to worship it, then it was destroyed because it had become an idol.

    • twik August 29, 2014, 9:52 am

      Like all regulations, there’s usually an interpretation issue.

      In any case, stars do not actually look like little five-pointed symbols, which are essentially abstract geometric shapes. Therefore, they could not, by *my* interpretation, be considered bannable under the most strict interpretation of the section referenced.

    • iwadasn August 30, 2014, 1:09 pm

      Moses didn’t make the snake for it to be worshiped. When people started worshiping it as an idol, it was destroyed to stop people from doing that.

  • DanaJ August 28, 2014, 9:24 am

    What a fool! He was just trying to confuse the seller by steamrolling her with his religion, insisting her goats are demonic to get a better price. A terrible tactic! Demonic goats would never sell for only $100. Goats that have been summoned from the void by the Dark Prince before being loosed on the earth in a storm of fire and brimstone can almost never be found for less than $250 (even in 2003). The ones with the glowing eyes cost even more!

    The OP handled herself with poise, but in the future I think it might be easier just to say “I’m sorry, but I don’t think these are the right goats for you. Good luck in your search.”

    • BellyJean August 29, 2014, 8:51 am

      +1 for sass and hilarity. 🙂

  • Crissy August 28, 2014, 12:35 pm

    “He had been in the presence of an idol worshiping, star-wearing woman on a farm from the depths of Hades that bred demonic goats”

    DYING. Just dying. OP, you have a gift for words. (Bestowed upon you by your heathen starry idol, no doubt.)

  • Lis August 28, 2014, 2:15 pm

    Hey, I agree with the rest of you that the man was rude, his behaviour was off and by the way I’m thrilled that OP didn’t send any innocent animals to live with him, but is there any chance of canning the language that insults *everyone* with mental health problems? Because most of us are not out there ranting at ladies in starry dresses, but rather trying to live normal lives while facing a whole lot of stigma.

    • Kimstu August 28, 2014, 11:22 pm

      I think the correct term in this situation is “a-hole” or something along those lines. The OP’s term “goof” is also acceptable, as are “wacko”, “cuckoo”, “flake”, “out of his tree”, and similar insults that make fun of bizarrely inappropriate behavior without misapplying actual medical terms designating genuine mental illness.

      I agree that real psychiatric technical terms like “schizoid” and “sociopath” and so forth should not be degraded into insults. Nor should people who are suffering from genuine mental illness be mocked if their illness causes them to behave somewhat unusually, any more than it’s okay to mock stutterers for “talking funny” or polio victims for “walking funny”.

      But not every jackhole who thinks some bizarre idea justifies their rude behavior is suffering from mental illness, no matter how many amateur psychologists attempt to diagnose them remotely on the basis of a single internet anecdote and then scold other people for not having “sympathy” for them.

      Making fun of the rudeness of wacko jackholes is not the same thing as mocking the mentally ill. Just as making fun of the speech patterns of slangy teens slurring through a cheekful of chewing gum is not the same thing as mocking people with actual speech impediments.

    • whatsanenigma August 29, 2014, 3:45 pm

      I totally agree.

    • hakayama August 30, 2014, 8:35 am

      @Lis: I don’t see anyone INSULTING people with mental/emotional problems. What I see (and suggest) is the need for recognizing the issues. You are right about not every troubled individual raging about starry dresses or anything else for that matter. However, I still painfully remember episodes of quiet melancholy schizophrenia in a family member. The “waves” were not rants, but still they had minimal contact with reality.
      It took some “catching up” to the fact that there was no way I could explain away the mistaken assumptions and conclusions in anything close to a satisfactory manner. The method that minimized upsets and rattling up was “Oh, I see. How terrible. You don’t say. Wow. Incredible.” Recognition of concerns raised, bean dipping and ASAP disengagement worked without disrespecting the other person and without ripping my nerves to shreds.
      “You cannot argue with crazy” is an overly simplified if crude, humorous but tinged with sadness summary of the “how to” lay person’s practical approach I’ve mentioned.

  • Enna August 28, 2014, 3:05 pm

    Is this man corrupt? As in anything that could be linked to the law, government or tax is idol worship?

  • Pam August 28, 2014, 8:17 pm

    That was a story very well told and enjoyable to read! Thanks for taking the time to send it in!

  • NostalgicGal August 28, 2014, 10:57 pm

    A later comment, I think that I would have said “Well normally the goats would be $100 each, but for you, I’ll make an exception and give you a special price…” (and pause to find out what the reaction is. Then continue with…) “$150 each or the pair for $500…” (it would have answered my question about if he was trying to get the price DOWN or not, and if suddenly the star worshipping dress or the idolatrous goats were suddenly, momentarily, um something he could overlook… then get the point home about you think the goats were better off not going home with him.

  • starstruck August 29, 2014, 4:53 am

    this made me laugh! your are spot on about the 6.66 pricing. in the south they have a fit over such things. lol and i love your response about his plaid. religion is a big deal here but some people do take it to far.

  • Angela August 29, 2014, 6:45 am

    “If God had intended goats to be registered, they would be born that way.”

    Ummm….how would these even work?

  • Mary August 29, 2014, 8:07 am

    Just4kicks, the reason the Catholic Church came out against the ALS challenge is because they believe some of the money will go towards stem cell research. I will not elaborate further because my personal rules of etiquette forbid me from discussing abortion or politics in public. It always leads to trouble.

  • Lyn August 29, 2014, 1:53 pm

    He sounds kind of scary to me!

  • Moonlight August 29, 2014, 6:27 pm

    A couple of years ago, I was running a volunteer project at a local park. My project was advertised in the paper and on the internet so it wasn’t unusual when strangers would join our 25 regular volunteers. This particular morning, we were joined by a middle aged man who asked all about us. Sensing a potential new volunteer, our group was welcoming and free with the information. Until the preaching began. He was a conservative Christian fanatic with the gift of prophecy who had a vision about our group that lead him to us that morning. Even though I was the acknowledged group leader, he never once looked in my direction as his speech went on and on.

    So I did the most logical thing. I sent all the volunteers on their way to the work site and remained behind as his only audience. It didn’t work right away though. One male volunteer was nervous about leaving me alone with this strange religious fanatic.

    I began giving my volunteer the head jerk. The one that means “leave now” while you can. Eventually my volunteer turned away and began, slowly, walking to the work site. With only a mere woman to talk to, our visitor turned on his heel and left. Not even a goodbye, just like he’d been left in the parking lot alone.

    I guess it would have been unseemly to cast his words of wisdom before a woman. 😉

  • essie August 29, 2014, 9:20 pm

    “If God had intended goats to be registered, they would be born that way. ”

    I think that’s what she was telling him. I guess those pentagrams on her dress muffled her voice so he couldn’t hear it.

  • Rena August 30, 2014, 10:18 am

    Sad to say, but oft times, when a person has a form of dementia or some other neurological disorder (tumor, cancer, etc.) they say and do the strangest things. Let’s hope he was just cranky and not ill.

  • Just Call Me J August 30, 2014, 12:18 pm

    It’s a good thing your dress was a cotton/poly blend.

    I’d hate to think of how loud he would have gotten had you been a Satin worshipper. 😉

    • delislice September 3, 2014, 9:24 am

      Except that, sadly, the Bible also forbids cotton/poly blends. Really!

  • BagLady August 31, 2014, 6:58 pm

    Just4Kicks, some Catholic dioceses — and some other religious groups that oppose abortion — are discouraging people from donating to the ALS Association because it funds embryonic stem-cell research. They’re OK with the challenge itself; they just want the money donated to a different charity. I don’t know if it occurred to them that donating to the ALS Association might help it come up with ways to research a cure that *don’t* use embryonic stem cells.

  • sillyme August 31, 2014, 11:25 pm

    Uhm, I’m from the South, and live in New England now. Yes, back in The Day in Dear Ole’ Dixie I would come across one or two of these wackadoodles myself. But can we please stop granting the South as being the Sole U.S. Source of these folk who may be unfortunate to have a few eggs short of a basket?

    I’ve seen my fair share of rude people with very unfathomable ideas up here, where it has taken me several hours to free myself from trying to untie the Gordion Knot of their lack of logic.

    Usually it’s not religion, though, I’ll grant you that.

  • Mabel September 4, 2014, 11:07 pm

    OMG this was hilarious. Thanks for the laugh!