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Ryan Dennis

Ryan Dennis is the son of a New York dairy farmer and a literary writer whose early essays were originally published in Progressive Dairyman.

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We’re lying on the couch, watching Netflix. My girlfriend rests her hand on my belly. I shift on my side so her hand slides off. She puts her hand back on my stomach. I browse through the movies, reading the descriptions below the titles. She rubs my belly and sighs.

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When we first arrived, he took me to the balcony and put his arm around my shoulder. We were seven floors up, and the cars below us looked small. I think he wanted me to notice that. He pointed into the darkness.

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I was working off of a playground tip, and the first thing I noticed was: The gym was blue – the walls, the court – as in so much blue that when I walked out of it an hour later, the colors of the outside world didn’t seem to fit anymore. It was a Croatian who told me about the weekly pickup game, but because the men usually spoke English to each other, I gathered they came from different countries in eastern Europe.

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The history of agriculture in most Western nations follows the same pattern. Humans on the European continent domesticated the aurochs early on in their evolution and eventually produced the dairy cow.

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Back in my mid-20s, I dated a German girl from a rich family. Her father was appalled she was with someone not wealthy. I eventually learned that he often said, in German, I looked like a homeless person. I told that to a friend over the phone, and the line went silent as he thought of a way to be kind.

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What was the first thing the farmer did with his lottery winnings?
Farm until it was gone.

If I had a dollar for every time I heard that joke, I could buy a pocketful of lottery tickets myself.

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