The Goatherd and the Goddess

I dated a sweet man who grew up in an African village. He came to the US at age 19 to go to school.

I loved hearing his stories of growing up in his village, living in mud huts, bathing in the nearby river, gathering water from a pond, making fire from sticks and moss, walking miles to sell eggs and chickens at the market, and other examples of a life I couldn’t imagine. He regaled me with his tribe’s welcome-to-manhood ceremony and other rites of passage.

As a boy, when he wasn’t in school, his job was to tend the goats and other livestock. He’d watch them graze and ensure they didn’t get too far away since his family of 9 children depended on their milk and meat. I teasingly called him The Goatherd.

At my prompting, he shared his memories of firsts coming to America: flying in an airplane, having a hot shower, siting on a toilet, driving a car.

Even though he didn’t marry until he met an American woman, he explained his tribe’s betrothal tradition. Young men offer their intended bride’s family a dowry of 13 cows. I said I was worth more — 100 cows. He teasingly said, “You’re not worth 100 cows. You’re old and used.”

I said, “I am worth 100 — I’m vintage and experienced.”

He then showed me a 1974 photo of him with a village cow. “Would you accept this cow as a down payment?”

“No. That cow is now certainly dead.”

I love when men take me into a world I haven’t experienced, even if it is just through their stories. I enjoyed hearing of his village life. His family didn’t have a car, electricity, or running water, but they created a comfortable life with the items they found around them.

Do you like hearing stories from your dates about a life very different than yours?

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