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13. Don’t Shoot the Deer in the Ass

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Thirteen

Dont Shoot the Deer in the Ass

The hunter is not least a subject of song, who brings peace to our pastures and feasts us with every sort of meat.

Synesisus of Cyrene, Letter 148, 1st century AD

It is 5 A.M., and John is getting ready to go deer hunting. Outside, its twenty-three degrees in the disappearing dark, and the fields are frozen. By the time I turn over, a shy mist is rising from the land, blending earth and sky. John is using my half of the bed to offload and organize his gear. I am pretending to be asleep.

I open one eye, and see orange. Theres a fluorescent puffy vest layered on top of me.

To keep you warm, baby, he says primly, and tucks it in around me.

Mmmph, I thank him, and disappear under the quilt.

He tugs on long johns and heads upstairs for food.

Brzzzzzip! goes the coffee bean grinder.

Thump! go the logs in the stove.

Argh! I mutter, pulling his pillow over my head. Something soft lands on me. Its a balled-up sock. I sneeze and count my blessings. This time, the sock is clean.

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7. Vampires Suck

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Seven

Vampires Suck

If the [zodiac] stars are animals, what food do they eat?

nephew of Adelard of Bath, 12th century

The neighbors had been losing chickens, Ruth remarks over dishes in the sink. Kept finding them with their heads gone.

and...? I prod. Shes washing. Im wiping. With one eye, I look through the kitchen window, scanning the henhouse, but its the middle of the day. Outside, nothing moves. No birds. No insects. Just flakes of snow, swirling on invisible breezes, falling in the gray light. Its utterly silent until the winds start to whip. Then the whole house sets to rumbling. These snowflakes sting if they hit you in the face. The edges are like little razor blades, but they are very pretty.

They set out traps, she continues, her arthritic hands busily scrubbing a casserole dish. Finally caught a white weasel. Hed been decapitating them. She shakes her head and scrubs some more, marveling at the peculiar thirst of animals.

Weasels want the blood. Rats attack the flanks. Foxes decimate the bird, leaving nothing behind but cracked bones and feathers. Americans want the breasts, putting the rest into fancy feasts for cats. The hunger reveals the beast.

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17. Ham Supper for 227

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Seventeen

Ham Supper for 227

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.

Sir Winston Churchill

Ow, Patrick announces, as everyone sits down to Sunday supper at the Big House. I just bit on something.

Buckshot, John says calmly.

But Im eating potatoes, Patrick protests.

Buckshot, John repeats, and reaches for another serving of venison chop suey.

So tell me about the wedding! I prod Patrick.

We got married, Patrick shrugs, still chewing with a slightly puzzled expression on his face. Then we fished at the lake.

Thats it?

Yep.

You still doing the pig roast?

Yep.

What about the pig? I poke him. Have you got one yet?

Nope, he replies. If I bring a pig home early, Christy will start cooing over it and before you know it, it will be another Bucky. And then Ill just have to get another pig to roast.

Just to be clear, Bucky wasnt a pig. He was a dog stuck in the body of a goat.

It is a truism of animal husbandry that certain animals come in pairs. The dove is one of them. The goat is another. Even if herds of other friendly animals are around, a single goat will not do well on its own. The specifics of the pair dont matter: It can be girl-girl, boy-boy, boy-girl, old-young, big-small, or black-white. They just both have to be goats, preferably two of the same kind, and not an Archy and Mehitabel kind of pair (a cockroach and an alley cat, in case you were wondering). Bucky thought he was a dog. So did all his friends. Wagging his tail, Bucky followed Patrick wherever he went. Begging to be petted, Bucky lived inside the house and shed on the couch. But one day, while nobody was home and he was all alone, he died. Death deprived him of his amazing powers of mind control, and behold! Bucky was returned back to being a goat. It was very upsetting.

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12. When Worlds Collide

Paula Young Lee Travelers' Tales ePub

Chapter Twelve

When Worlds Collide

Your salvation doesnt interest me. Mine does.

When Worlds Collide, 1951

Its my fathers eightieth birthday weekend. My brother, his wife, and their daughter are taking a red-eye flight from California and landing early on Saturday morning. They are staying in Wellesley for thirty-six hours, long enough to land, say hello, have dinner, and then they are fleeing back to Palo Alto. We have not been all together since my mother died fifteen years ago.

Am I thinking about this? No. I am trying to organize the freezer. The impending arrival of a thousand pounds of moose meat creates an acute space management problem. In 2000, according to the USDA, the national average consumption was 195 pounds of meat per person. One moose, then, feeds a family of four over the course of a year if you can figure out how to preserve it. One solution is jerky, but Id really rather not turn good meat into spicy strips of shoe leather.

If were lucky, well get a moose right away! John hollers cheerfully, and bounces down the stairs, through the kitchen, and out the front door as fast as he can. Hes heading up to Maine. Its Friday night, meaning that hes got Saturday and Sunday to scout. On Monday, the moose season officially starts. He is also trying very hard to disappear before my family gets here. Families are just bigger versions of other peoples babies: theyre adorable until they start throwing tantrums and screaming. In my case, theyre screaming in Korean and sometimes French, depending on who shows up and the nature of the occasionsay, my sisters wedding. Nobody has a clue what the other person is saying, but theyre all saying it very LOUDLY.

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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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