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9. Do Not Feed the Bears

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Nine

Do Not Feed the Bears

Procrastination is the art of keeping up with yesterday.

Archy the Cockroach, from Don Marquis, Archy and Mehitabel, 1927

Weeks later, as fall draws near, the morning sun means that John and I will be bushwhacking up the mountain in back of the Big House. The reason is to look for moose and deer sign, because this is what hunters do. Its also just to get to the top of the mountain, because its there, and its a beautiful day. Dressed in hiking gear and ready to go, I start filling water bottles to stuff into our daypacks as John sits at the chair by the door and starts lacing on hiking boots.

Just so you know, Don says laconically to John from his lounger in the living room, the McKennas were back there, setting up bear bait.

(... bear bait?)

They quit hunting bears, Don continues. Now they run a little guide business for tourists who want to see bears. But dont be surprised if you smell something.

(... smell something?)

Err, I say, raising my hand to object.

Not likely youll find yourself in the same spot, Don drawls, pointedly ignoring the surprised look on my face, but no need to worry. Bears get timid as soon as the bait comes out because they know the seasons starting. Theyll just run away from you.

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2. Hustle

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Two

Hustle

In good cookeries, all raisins should be stoned.

Amelia Simmons, American Cookery, 1796

On my way back from the Bon March to my studio apartment, Id often make a detour through the Luxembourg Gardens, where children would play with the toy sailboats in the central fountain. Each child would get a short stick and a boat with a numbered sail. Theyd poke their boat with the stick, and off it would float across the rippled surface of the large circular pool. Eventually, their boat would drift back to the edge, coming close enough so they could poke it again. This activity involved a lot of waiting and chasing, because it was impossible to predict when or where your boat would return to the edge. The children were always trying to poke the wrong boat, just because it had drifted close to them.

This is how I feel about romantic relationships. We begin by coveting what we see every day, Hannibal Lecter purred to FBI agent Clarice Starling, whod been visiting him at a prison for the criminally insane. He was correct, but who takes romantic advice from a cannibal serial killer, even if he is a doctor with great teeth? Studies have shown that people tend to date inside a ten mile radius, because theyd rather pretend that proximity is destiny instead of fessing up to being lazy. What happens when the boys go after a girl who accidently drifted within poking range? They take a stab at her, and the girl floats away. The process repeats itself until the pokers get bored and leave.

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6. Bard the Joint

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Six

Bard the Joint

Let the meat cake.

Mary Antwinet, leader of the French revelation, from blog, shitmystudentswrite.tumblr.com, 2012

The recipe begins: Skin the coot. (Do not pick). Wash in salt and water and let stand overnight in a solution of 1/4 cup salt and water to cover. According to the editors of Yankee Magazine, who decide such things, Stewed Coot is a Maine specialty. The problem is that I have never seen a coot, let alone eaten one. I dont know if its animal, vegetable, or mineral. Ive heard that they are both crazy and bald, as in Crazy as a coot and Bald as a coot. This information is not very helpful, because I could say the same about Britney Spears.

I decide to check out Cootworld.com, because if you want to know about Coots [sic] this is the place. To my surprise, a coot is neither a relative of raccoons nor a cucumber pickle. Its an All-Terrain Vehicle (ATV) that twists 45 degrees in the middle, exactly like a Dancing Barbie. The coot is both funny looking and tough. It lives in tricky water environments such as whitewater rapids and shallow lakes with rocks. I have never seen anything quite like it in the wild, but it went extinct in 1985.

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8. The O in the No

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Eight

The O in the No

The cat that cannot reach the meat says it stinks.

Persian proverb.

Seven A.M. Sunday. There is no hunting today, so John is sitting morosely at his breakfast, eating French toast made with warm eggs just laid by the hens. I swear the chickens looked proud of themselves when I went to the henhouse this morning. Some days, they are too busy bickering to notice me hovering by the door in my pajamas and boots. Other times, they press forward, expecting me to give them nice tasty worms. Today, they practically stuck a name tag on each shell so Id know which hen laid which egg. By the time I trundled back to the human house, John was sitting at table, waiting for his breakfast, and reading Uncle Henrys because I hide Guns & Ammo on church day. Uncle Henrys has a Firearms section that he checks religiously. He also looks for snowmobiles, ATVs, and tractors.

His mother wanders in the kitchen, looking for coffee.

Hey Mum, he calls without preamble. You want a peacock?

No, she says flatly.

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3. A Liver with Onions

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Three

A Liver with Onions

Lord, confound this surly sister

Blight her brow with blotch and blister,

Cramp her larynx, lung and liver

In her guts a galling give her.

J.M. Synge

At this point in a proper romance, the heroine should find herself facing a large obstacle challenging her bliss, such as a rival in stilettos, or an inconvenient war. Since the nineteenth century, the conventions of the genre have been consistent: the heroine runs away from marriage, a clever suitor figures out how to win her, the heroine finally relents, they tie the knot and live happily ever after. From Jane Austen to that Mormon lady who wrote Twilight, authors always make the heroine marry Mr. Right in the end. If he wasnt Mr. Right, the heroine would not have married him.

When the woman ends up with Mr. Wrong, she isnt the heroine but the sidekick. She is there to make the heroine look thin. I didnt want to be heroine or sidekick. I wanted to be Tolstoy, so I started writing about John and turned him into the heroine. Turnabout is fair play. Besides which, he was the one who always wanted to talk about The Relationship, asking me awful things like, How do you feel about us? Where do you see this relationship going? What relationship? Id reply in astonishment. Were living together! hed bellow in disbelief. So? Id retort, and refuse to speak to him until he apologized for being so mean to me.

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