Monday, October 5, 2009
death at dawn: an armadillo's tale
once upon a time, i was a little girl who had never seen an armadillo. coyotes, sure. rattlesnakes, you bet. but an armadillo? nope. i'd never even heard of one until one day my dad brought home a fake menu for the "roadkill cafe" and armadillo was listed as one of the dishes.
"what the heck is an armadillo?" my ten-year-old self wondered.
since we're talking prehistoric times here, i hit the ole encyclopedia for the answer. and i saw something i didn't find quite believable. is it some kind of mutated cross between aardvark and pill-bug? and armored rat-rabbit? accidental spawn of an alligator and a slinky dog? still, i was intrigued, and oddly, enchanted. it's so ridiculous-looking as to be sort of cute.
then my ten year old self grew up, and eight years later i found myself driving in florida with a friend when an armadillo ran across the road.
"aawww..." i said, eyes all aglow.
"huh?" my friend said, eyeing me askance.
"it's so cute!" i exclaimed, to which i received no reply save an incredulous stare.
flash forward thirteen years (good grief, have i really been in florida that long?) to the purchase of our first home. surrounded by lush florida forest (aka: swamp) and fairly isolated from suburban civilization (neighbors who set off commercial fireworks in their driveway and offer to let our kids shoot their guns), i see my second live armadillo. it's so cute! it's all weird and ball-like and...hey...what is it doing out there in our yard? rooting around and grunting and crunching loud enough for a herd of elephants...digging for grubs you say? oh, okay. well, an armadillo's got to eat, right?
hmmm...our yard is awfully holey looking though. in fact, it kind of looks like a mine field. one where the mines went off.
and slowly, insidiously, the little girl's infatuation with armadillos starts to dull. then my butterfly garden gets trampled and the infatuation evaporates. my husband never liked them to begin with, so he has gone straight from "what's an armadillo?" to "all armadillos must die on principle." he borrows a bow and a pistol from my brother and bides his time. the armadillo vendetta has begun.
then this morning his shining moment of glory comes. it's 6:30 a.m., it's still dark out, and i hear POP! POP! followed by silence, then a few more POP!s. i lay there listening, trying futilely to suppress the mental image of art sitting half-naked and covered in mud on the roof cackling maniacally whilst waving a gun. then there's a smug sort of silence followed by the sound of him leaving for work.
years ago, my small self would have been horrified. but now my adult self is happy as a cat in cream. i guess it's a sign of my growing hillbilly-ness living out here on the hick-end of tampa that the death of an armadillo feels like a reason to celebrate.
on an unrelated note, i found the above picture on a girl's blog, and she was ranting about clerical errors in her patients' charts. i thought this one was particularly funny:
"Patient in for a below-the-knee amputation. What do we see in print? BALONEY AMPUTATION. Does the Oscar Meyer Corporation know about this?"