Are you rubbing your hind legs together, or are you just happy to see me?
In my second incarnation as a wife, I lived in a big, beautiful and nearly brand new home sitting on eighty acres in the Kansas countryside. It was quite large and very unique looking with it's huge windows, large loft and floor to ceiling river rock fire place. Number two, along with his ex-wife, had designed it from the ground up. Soon after it's completion, they split up. I always referred to it as "The Monument", because it felt like a giant wooden monument to his dead first marriage.
I didn't like it.
Other people did, however. Nearly everyone that ever saw the house talked about how completely lovely it was. The fact that it sat way off the dirt road we lived on and was surrounded by huge trees made it all the more appealing.
I still didn't like it.
Naturally I had issues with the house because of the ghost of the wife past that lived in the shadows. My husband certainly wasn't to blame and looking back, I completely understand why he didn't want to give it up. He had created that house from just the dreams he and his first wife had together and to sell it would have been like selling a piece of him.
But, there was another major reason I did not like The Monument. A reason even bigger than the ex-wife reason.
It was in the country.
If you have somehow assumed in reading my stories that I was raised on a farm because I am southern, you so don't know me. Although Daddy and Martha (my Step-Mom) were both raised on a farm, the closest our family ever came to farm life were the five ducks they gave each of us kids for Easter one year. We loved watching them splash around in the creek that ran through our property, but tragically they all eventually fell ill and my sensitive Daddy got the notion that they were suffering.
Apparently when Daddy felt animals were suffering, he was overcome with the urge to do the only humane thing and send them to be with Jesus. He did as much for the ducks by chopping their little quacking heads off with a shovel. I'm sure Jesus thanked him for expediting their trip.
I myself tried never to suffer in front of Daddy.
While I don't like living elbow to elbow with others, I truly don't like to live so far away from town... and so far down a dirt road... that I feel like Half-Pint helping Pa getting the buggy ready every time I have to go to the grocery store. It's not right. People need the convenience of convenience stores. Thus the name Convenience Store. If you live more than a block and a half away from one, they're just Inconvenience Stores.
I lived in the wilderness, for Heaven's sake. What was I supposed to do when I needed a Big Gulp in the middle of the night?
Not only is it oh so inconvenient to live a hundred miles from town, (ok.. maybe it was only four or five.. but you'll agree that's not nearly as dramatic), it is also quite dangerous.
You see, critters that would never dream of making the long journey to town feel perfectly comfortable invading your space when you live in the middle of no-man's land. And these are not ordinary critters either. No way. They are often exceptionally large, very dangerous, monsters.
For example, I came home one night after having attended my baby shower when I was pregnant with my son. As you might imagine, I was exhausted from an evening of playing Guess The Baby Food and wearing a paper plate filled with bows on my head. I was finally relaxing while Hubby, who was and still is an oil man, was out on a job.
Suddenly I heard a noise. Not a normal noise like a burglar would make when he's ripping off the screen to your bedroom in the city, but a frightening thunk of a noise that was coming from my back deck. My daughter and step-daughters leapt from their chairs in fear.
Ever the brave lioness of a mother, I told my oldest step-daughter to look around to see what it could have been. But, before she made it to the sliding glass doors that were our last line of defense from this terrible prowler....
Crash! There it went again! Whatever it was, it was seriously just outside our house and it wasn't going anywhere. I waddled toward the noise and looked through the sliding glass doors.
There stood a mountain lion!
Ok. So it wasn't a mountain lion. But wouldn't that have been a cool headline? "Expectant mom saves family from extremely angry mountain lion! Grateful kids promise to clean room!"
Actually, it was a bob cat! He had knocked over the patio furniture which accounted for the thunk and crash... which by the way is exactly the sound patio furniture makes when it's knocked over. Don't believe me? Go outside right now and push over your neighbor's lawn chairs.
He was sitting right on my deck, staring in my Anderson door like this was a zoo and we were the animals. I'm sure he had quite the story to tell when he went home to his bob cat family later that night.
(Naturally he sounded just like Bob Cat Goldthwait, but I can't do impressions so you'll just have to imagine it.)
"So I went to the zoo tonight on my lunch break, to get away from the office for awhile. Anyway, they just got in a pregnant woman and they had her and her other offspring in a big cage that strangely enough looked like a giant monument.
"It was really interesting to watch her eat. I never knew they could put away so much food, but the keepers said that's normal for a mom to be. She'd unhinge her jaw and she could pretty much swallow an entire cake without coming up for air. Watching it slide down her throat whole was so gross. From the size of her, I think she's having a really big litter. They say that if the husband gets too close to her when she's in labor, she'll eat him, too."
There is nothing worse than a judgmental bob cat.
Sadly, that wasn't my only run in with nature gone wild.
One evening while the family watched television in the den, I was in the bathroom doing normal everyday bathroom activities when suddenly I noticed a shadow move across the floor near the door.
Naturally, I moved closer to the door to investigate. What I saw is one of the scariest things I've ever seen from that day to this.
Right in front of the bathroom door and totally blocking my only means of escape, was a cricket!
Before you start to point and call me a scaredy cat, you should know that this was not just some ordinary, run-of-the-mill insect. Oh no.
This was a Jurassic cricket!
He was huge people! Pterodactyl huge. (By the way, how impressed are you that I can spell that?)
He looked right at me, raised up on his hind legs, put one arm behind his back and did that whole "bring it on" Matrix move. He was daring me to try to get out. I was certain I was going to be the first woman to have her legs chewed off by an insect since the cave woman days.
So I did what I always do in times of crisis. I danced around, arms flailing wildly and I cried out, "HELP!!!!!!!!!!!!!". I often cry out loudly. I always say why just yell when you can cry out.
Thankfully my entire family came running to my rescue. "What's wrong?" they wanted to know.
Believe it or not, when I pointed out this monstrous freak of nature that was standing between me and sweet, sweet freedom, their concern turned to laughing. And when I say laughing, I mean snorting, rolling on the ground laughing.
Which sort of got the cricket tickled. He thought my wild dancing around was so funny, I don't think he could remember why he was trying to kidnap me in the first place. He patted my husband on the back and went back to his lair in the laundry room.
So, what have we learned from this story?
People who live in monuments should beware of smart aleck bob cats?
My Daddy is a known duck murderer?
No. I think what I'd like you to take away from this very personal, very painful memory is this....
If you dance with a cricket in the pale moonlight, he won't eat your legs.
Copyright © 2004, Sherri Bailey
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