Let Me Give You A Steer On What It's Like To Be Too Big
It’s all very well for you, isn’t it?
You see the photo of Knickers, the gigantic steer from Western Australia whose astounding bulk has set the internet ablaze, and you react with amusement and delight.
You make little jokes about Knickers and his rare size, and you laugh at the comical sight of a cow so far outside the normal parameters of what a cow should be. It’s all fun and games for you.
I, on the other hand, experience the sight of Knickers differently. When I look at Knickers, I see myself. And I shed a silent tear for the loneliness that both Knickers and I have spent our lives, and will continue to spend our lives, feeling.
I am a big man. I don’t mean that I am fat. I mean, I am fat, but I am also towering. I am of a build that might best be described as “mountainous”, and of about the same level of agility. I’ve always been big: in first grade I was taller than my teacher, and by the age of seven I was no longer allowed on any of the kids’ rides.
As an adult, though, I am positively elephantine. I loom. I look down on people even when I look up to them. I duck my head without thinking when going through any doorway, my instincts honed by years of bumps.
I spend plane trips in constant pain, knees pressed against the seat in front, drinks cart periodically crashing into my elbow. Once, on a bus trip from Melbourne to Sydney, the girl sitting in front of me never stopped slamming her seat backwards into my legs, refusing to believe anyone could actually be big enough to take up that much space.
People never think of these issues when they think about we who walk with our heads in the clouds. They think our lives are a non-stop party of reaching high shelves and changing light bulbs without a chair, and they never see the dark side of our lives.
READ MORE: The Bovine Who Looks A Little Too Beefy
I’m sure it’s the same for Knickers, who is now seen as some kind of elite steer, granted special status in the farmyard, living the high life as a bovine celebrity. They don’t think of how hard it must be for him to go through doorways too; the difficulty of fitting into a stall at night; the way other cows avoid him, intimidated by his size despite his really very shy, kind nature.
That last is the worst, if I’m honest. I can take a sore head, sore knees and not being allowed on the Scooby Doo ghost train at Movieworld because the safety bar won’t go over my knees.
But it’s awful trying, in every social situation, to shrink into as small a space as possible in order to avoid causing alarm and consternation to your fellow humans, who can’t be blamed for finding it disconcerting when a great lumbering yeti like me comes stomping into their midst.
I always feel I should apologise to everyone I meet for taking up so much space, but then would I just be drawing attention to the fact and spooking people even more?
The horrible thing is, often I forget how offensively massive I am, and I go about my business like a normal person, happy and content with my place in the world. Until I catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror, or even worse, look at a photo. Whenever I see a picture of myself with other people, I’m reminded of how freakish and terrifying I am.
That’s what that photo of Knickers being shared everywhere is to me: it’s every photo I’ve ever been in. Every school photo, every cricket and football team photo, every family Christmas photo, every selfie with friends. When I look at Knickers I see myself, and my heart bleeds for both of us.
For we are the same, Knickers and I. We are both objects of scorn and derision for the vast dimensions we have assumed against our will. We both walk ponderously through this world, not knowing whether we are giants in a world of normies, or normies in a world of pygmies.
All we know is that we do not fit -- both literally and figuratively. All we know is that we have no place in this world.
Look at how Knickers has been rejected from the abattoir, declared “too big to eat”. The one way for a cow to really feel useful in our society has been denied him, in much the same way that I have been denied countless opportunities -- a career as a jockey, a comfortable sleep in a normal-sized bed, a haircut where I’m not asked to slide down in the chair -- because of my size.
I’m not asking for society to change for me. I’ve given up my dreams of living a normal life. I know that I’ll always be a lonely freak on the fringe, gazing wistfully at the average-sized world and asking flight attendants for the seat-belt extender.
No, all I ask is that when you look at Knickers, before you giggle, you take a moment to think of the sadness that haunts him as he tries to fill a space he was not designed for, in a world that was made for the small-to-medium cow.
Then take a moment to remember the Knickerses who walk among you every day, taking up the whole footpath and trying to avoid spilling over onto your armrest at the movies. Consider the misery of the outsize, and say a silent prayer of thanks, for there but for the grace of God go you.