Thankfully, after an oil burner tank’s worth of Allen’s Coffee Brandy and milk, it wasn’t all that easy to spot stray animals on the side of the road in the middle of the night. Still, twice, she succeeded.
The first time, she gave me a baby bunny. It was adorable. I must have been around 8-years-old. When I recount my childhood, age is often determined by which house my mother lived in at the time. This house was not the one by the lake. It was the ranch, surrounded by woods, on a lonely stretch of road. They must not have lived there long because I couldn’t drive you there if I wanted to, but it is the house where a lot of my Vi memories took place. Maybe it was a particularly good year for remembering things, or maybe it’s just that a lot of memorable things happened there. I don’t remember. At any rate, a bunny was a delightful gift to receive in the wee hours of the morning. Vi didn’t believe in waiting ’til the sun came up. Surprises were best delivered, warm and cuddly, with much hilarity, in the middle of the night.
The bunny slept in a box next to my bed for the rest of that night. The next day, my Step Dad, Tony, built a hutch in the backyard where the bunny lived happily ever after, until the great bunny massacre, which happened a couple days later. I wasn’t there at the time-I only lived with my mom on weekends-but when I came back the next weekend the bunny was history. My family didn’t sugar coat things. There was no farm with other baby bunnies in an idyllic bunny environment, nothing like that, just the stark reality of the situation, which was that some fucking raccoon ate my rabbit.
The second time Vi found a wild animal after a night at the bars and brought it home at 2 am, I was 20. The house was in Portland and my college roommate, Jeannie, and I were living with Vi and Tony for the summer, spending our days at the beach, hitting the clubs at night, and waiting impatiently on Sunday mornings for Tony’s mom to deliver her regular spaghetti and meatballs special. It had been a splendid summer and a wild animal arriving at two a.m. only made it better. This time, the animal was a baby skunk whose mother had been run over.
I know it doesn’t seem like a good gift, but baby skunks are adorable. They haven’t developed their sprayers yet, so they are a lot like kittens. We kept our skunk in the bathtub and named him Pepe.
It wasn’t long before we realized that we were not well equipped for skunk care. We set about finding a new home for Pepe, and when I say “we”, I mean Jeannie and me, as Vi had already forgotten we had a pet skunk. Eventually, we found a nice farm in the country that adopted wildlife found on the roadside and we sent Pepe there to play in green pastures with other orphaned animals.
At least that’s the story I tell myself.
|See? Like a cute little kitten|