Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Death Becomes Him

Photo: Hryck, Flickr Creative Commons

I'm kneeling on the couch looking through the thick red curtains at the remnants of an afternoon thunderstorm and the black wall of clouds in the distance showing where the storm probably knocked out our power. It looked scarier out there toward the river than the actual edges of the the storm that hit our house. I'm a little annoyed that we made it through the entire time the storm took to pass over our house without losing power and then minutes later, when the only falling water is the last residual drops working their way down off the eaves and the thunder is now distant and rolling, is when the lights go out and I'm stuck here in a dim house staring out a window, stroking my summer beard, which is starting to get a little puffy. I won't shave it until I have to start back at work in a couple of weeks. I wish the hair were denser on the sides and I wish it were a little less coarse, but it's nice to not have to shave.

Normally if I'm on the couch I'm watching TV. I read in bed and I keep my computer in the office so that when I am on the couch I can stare at the TV with my wife in communal silence instead of noodling around on the Internet while she stares in silence at the TV. I'm not tuned in enough to the nuances of relationships to notice the subtle differences in sociability in action there, but my wife does, so to keep her satisfied, I keep the computer in another room. She doesn't make me. I do it because I love her and want her to be happy and she's happier when I'm watching TV.

Right now I'm thinking about mountain lions, or maybe I should go with panthers in this case as the hypothetical cats I'm thinking of are local and would be a hundred miles from even the nearest real hill, much less a mountain. My aunt and uncle are convinced there's one lurking in the woods surrounding our homes. They say they've seen the footprints. I say my parents' free-wandering Great Pyrenees has really big feet, but perhaps they're right. The only scientifically acknowledged population in the East isn't that far south of us in Florida and there have been enough sightings north of us to think that maybe they really are out there. After all, bobcats are actually pretty common here and I've only seen two of them in the entire 22 years I've lived in the area. And there's that whole thing about mountain lions being wanders. There was that one tagged in Wyoming that was found messing around in Texas...

I tend to doubt it, though. While this is a pretty remote and uninhabited area by suburban standards, there's enough of an established population in the surrounding former swamps that I think the notoriously skittish cats would have gone looking for a more remote haunt. My uncle thinks I shouldn't go out into the woods here without a gun, but I don't like the idea of running long distances with a 5-lb handgun slapping against my hip and I do like running through the woods.

This thought of course melds into idle daydreaming about what I would do should I ever happen across a panther. I envision myself going for the throat, squeezing with all of my might as I try to force my thumbs in behind the trachea to get a better grip in my quest to crush the life out of this thing before it does the same to me. This is not the first time I've daydreamed about killing a wild animal with my bare hands. It's not that I'm a bloodthirsty man, but when you spend a lot of time hiking way out in the woods where there really are animals big enough and carnivorous enough to potentially want to kill you, it's fairly natural to brainstorm how you might keep yourself alive.

For some reason, I always picture myself going for the eyes with a bear. Perhaps it's because I imagine the throat of a bear to be a little less delicate than that of a panther and I know that if I were trying to eat an animal and that animal gouged me in the eyes that I might perhaps decide to go find something a little less feisty to chow down on. Like a slug, maybe. Slugs don't have thumbs (or even fingers) and therefore would be very unlikely to jam them into my eye sockets. Of course this is all very much hypothetical. The statistics suggest that I never will have to try out my self-defence techniques and I'm perfectly aware that if I did happen to get into such a situation that I would probably just die before even having a chance. I've tickled the bellies of many a kitten so I know how cats fight. They fight dirty and everything seems to be sharp.

But right now, it's raining, I'm in between books and the damn storm cut me off in the middle of Shaolin Soccer, so I'm going to entertain myself by imagining myself choking out a panther as he shreds my sides and nearly eviscerates me with his claws. It's better than some other options, I guess.


Julie said...

There are worse ways to spend the day. And worse violent things you could imagine doing.

Hopefully, the power thing was temporary.

Courtney said...

I'm not capable of just sitting and watching TV unless it's something I really want to see. I sit and noodle on the computer at the same time. Fortunately Mickey does the same thing so it's not a problem for us.

Jacob said...

Julie: The power was only out for an hour or an hour and a half. It came on and I went for a run instead, which doesn't require electricity. I couldn't do anything but sit around and wait for the power while it was off and then I ignore it when it comes back.

Courtney: We only have one computer, you tiny, elitist snob. Also, I have DVR, so I only really watch TV when I really want to watch it. Having the computer in the room means I end up ignoring Community or No Reservations and that's not good hoodoo.

Mickey said...

You probably won't be surprised to learn that I too have frequently imagined scenarios in which I have to grapple to the death with some wild creature.

As you point out, in reality a panther probably wouldn't give you the chance.

And Courtney is incorrect about our TV/computer usage. I am only ever doing one or the other. She is always doing both. I am entirely incapable of multitasking, so my focus can only be on one thing at a time.

And now I have caught up on your posts. You caught me off guard with three posts this week, but maybe I just didn't realize it was Thursday already.

Chris said...

In my imaginary battles, I usually scan the area for a ready weapon, most likely a stick big enough to use as a club.

But, yeah, I would lose.

Sid said...

It took me a while to read this. Kept getting distracted by work but I'm glad I did. I particularly enjoyed the part about slugs not having thumbs (or even fingers).

Anyway, most of the time my survival strategies about how to ward off a rapist. I kid you not. Whenever I'm alone in a car with a guy I keep thinking, "What will I do when he attacks me?" Guess, that says something about where I live.

Chris said...

I was going to confess to daydreaming about fighting off home invaders, but I thought that would sound really paranoid of me. Then Sid raised the bar.

Obviously I don't take the threat too seriously, because I don't own any weapons more deadly than kitchen knives or sports equipment.

Rassles said...

when I was younger my neighbors had a Great Pyrenees.

Rassles said...

I loved that dog.