Monday, March 12, 2012

I only hunt bargains, y'all

                Even a life spent on a path which allows you to remain true to your value system, can be de-railed by the simplest of suggestions.  The Dad had ever so innocently asked if he could choose the meal for our Friday night dinner.  As I have certain activities on my schedule throughout the week (Dinner/Trivia on Tuesdays, Choir Practice on Wednesdays, Singles Bible Study on Thursdays) I have designated Friday as Dad's Day and he gets to choose the meal and/or activity due to his continual lament that he feels like he lives by himself.
              He suggested he cook pork chops and home fries.  I immediately began to formulate the many reasons why he should not when my stomach took over and I was downright shocked to hear myself say, “How much bacon do you need?”  He adds bacon, onions and peppers to his potatoes and cooks them to absolute pieces and they are some of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  If God is actually Southern, and I’ve been assured by a number of Baptists He is, we’re having home fries in heaven, y'all.  To this coma-inducing meal we added turnip greens so I could at least pretend it was reasonably well-balanced.
               I woke up the next morning moving slowly from the grease and carbs running through my veins and discovered he had taken the leftovers and made omelets.  Not wanting to be rude but not really happy with another ‘cheat’ meal so quickly, I ate the food and thought about the activities to which I was often an unwilling participant throughout my formative years.
              To wit, I have been coon huntin’, frog giggin’ and have hauled more hay than an extra on Hee-Haw.  I have also hunted deer, rounded up horses and hoed cotton.  To be honest, the last one was probably only two weeks of my life, but whenever it gets hot outside I find myself needing to sing spirituals bent over in a field, y’all. 
              And while I embraced these activities with all the joy of a Republican acknowledging a poor person, I did try ever so hard to fit in and be “one of the guys”, with varying degrees of success.  Full disclosure, the variance was non-existent.  I was not happy and I let them know as much as I could seeing as how children of my generation were to be neither seen nor heard.  To say our opinions were irrelevant would mean they had given any thought to our opinions.  Pretty much it was, “We’re goin’ coon huntin’.  Go get your cousin to get you some coveralls; it’s gonna be colder than a pawn broker’s heart out tonight.”  Notice no invitation.  No, “Hey buddy, you wanna go kill a raccoon in the dark for no reason”?  They said it, I did it, I survived, end of story.
             Once when we were deer hunting on Henderson Island in Louisiana, my Uncle and I (he was only a year older than me) were paired up to get in a particular stand and wait for deer to come by.  Then kill them.  Now, you have to understand I didn’t find anything inherently wrong with killing these deer; it's what they're there for, I had been taught.  I grew up in a carnivore’s playground.  We would kill and eat animals we owned (cow, goat, whatever) and it wasn’t a big deal.  It sometimes was a bit uncomfortable, like when my cousin asked, “Are we eating Billy?” during a July 4th picnic.  But by and large I was all about the eating, so I guess I had to be all about the killing.
             While we were waiting nature called, as she does, and I felt I had found a time to really truly fit in by peeing outdoors, proudly and without shame.  In my naiveté thought I was in the clear.
            When my Uncle walked by and saw me answering the call of nature, he said,      
             “What in the blue blazes are you doing, boy?”
              I turned, mid stream, and proudly said, “I’m tee-teeing (we are not vulgar people).”
              He looked at me and said, “Come on y’all, we’ve got to find another stand.  Dusty just peed all the deer away.”
              What?  How can I not have done the right thing?  Peeing in the wild is what these people want from me, is it not?  And what did he mean, tee-teed the deer away?  Is my urine tainted?  Do I need medical attention?  I know I ate more than my fair share of Spam and crackers the night before but I was hungry and being amongst the flora and fauna takes it out of a preppy, I can assure you.  If the stench of 7 men alone in a cabin didn’t drive away the wild animals, the fluids from an 11 year-old whose dietary habits was mostly made up of Whatchamacallits and Big Red soda would certainly not send Bambi and his pals fleeing in fear.  
                I won’t get into the details of the hunt for frogs and raccoons.  Suffice it to say raccoon hunting is like deer hunting but at night.  Frog gigging is like raccoon hunting but in water.  And hauling hay is indentured servitude, people.  I want my own telethon for those three summers.  Just saying.
                Again I am navigating a landscape that is unfamiliar and again without a map, but I think I can do better this time.  We are intrepid explorers, well, at least one of us is.  We don’t need Sacajawea to make it to the Pacific.  His Lewis and my Clark can get there just fine as I am the only one who can actually get us anywhere out here in the land of the hippies with my buddy Siri.    And we can take those first steps as soon as we can get up from the table.  Those taters have weighed us down, y’all.

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