My Brush With WildlifeErik Deckers
Laughing Stalk syndicate
When I first moved to Syracuse, Indiana 16 years ago, I wasn't quite prepared for the rural life of northern Indiana. I was a city boy. I grew up in the burgeoning metropolis of Muncie, Indiana, home of Ball Jars and Ball State University. I even lived on Ball Avenue, completing the Ball Family's trifecta.
I thought milk and eggs came from the grocery store, that only rednecks and moonshiners lived out in the country, and that there were still places outside of town that lacked indoor plumbing and electricity. The only time I ever visited the country was when we were driving to other cities.
Needless to say, I was out of my element when I first moved to north central Indiana, and started working as the marketing director for a company that sold poultry equipment around the world. For one thing, I quickly learned that eggs didn't just come from the grocery store.
In 2005, I worked about an hour away from home, and was driving back one summer evening when my cell phone rang. It was my wife.
"There's a bobcat in the front yard," she said. "I just pulled into the driveway with the kids, and there's a bobcat just sitting there."
I was excited. I mean, we lived out in rural Indiana, but I always figured we were close enough to town that most of the serious wildlife was further north and east of us.
"What does it look like?" I asked excitedly. I'd seen them in pictures, but never in real life. Especially in small town Indiana. This was really cool.
She paused for a minute. "Well, kind of big. It's kind of a white and black color."
"Huh. I didn't know they were that color." Maybe it was a special breed of bobcat.
"What color did you think they were?" asked my wife.
"I always thought they were grayish. Maybe white in the front, brown in the back."
"Nope, this one is mostly white."
"Wow, I wish I could see it," I said, smacking the steering wheel. I was still about 20 minutes from home. The thing was going to be gone by the time I got there.
My wife didn't say anything for a moment, studying the creature that was sitting in our front yard. It was probably staring at the strange creatures sitting in the car, wondering what was going to happen next. Then inspiration struck.
"Do you have the camera with you?" I asked.
"Shoot, I wish you did. I wanted you to take a picture of it."
"I suppose I could go get one." I always knew my wife loved me, but to put herself in danger just to get a picture for me was just too much. Besides, there was still a chance it would hang around until I got home.
"No, don't get out of the car!" I nearly shouted into the phone. "It might be too dangerous."
"It could attack you. I'd rather you just waited there until I got home. Or drive to your parents."
"Why do you think it would be dangerous?" she asked, and then thought for a minute. "Wait a minute, what do you think is out here?"
"It's a bobcat. A wild cat."
The howls of laughter made me realize we weren't talking about the same thing. At all. I thought about faking going through a tunnel and hanging up, then I remembered there were no tunnels around for a hundred miles.
"No, it's a Bobcat. A big giant piece of machinery that's here to dig up our front steps. It's got a hydraulic jackhammer on the front of it and a scoop shovel sitting next to it."
Then it hit me: in the efforts to get our house ready to sell, we had hired a contractor to tear up and replace our front steps, since they were falling apart. He had delivered a Bobcat — not a bobcat — that day so he would be ready to go the next morning.
I didn't say anything for several seconds out of embarrassment, and in the faint hope that my wife would forget we had been talking.
"You're such a city boy."
Shakespeare's "Comedy of Errors" has nothing on my wife and me. I'd like to say this was the only conversation of its kind that we've ever had, but anyone who knows me knows this isn't the case.
I can only wonder what the Bard could have done if he had power tools to write about. Throw in a wood chipper, and "Hamlet" would have been hysterical.
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