Stories from the Road: Deer Without Fear

My mother’s relationship with the deer in her community has been fodder for a great many of my articles over the years.  She has named half a dozen of them.  They give birth in her yard.  They eat out of her hand.  They watch her from outside her kitchen window and start gathering in the back yard when she approaches the door.  Cattle feed and watermelon rinds will do that, apparently.

My mother is the gentlest soul I know.  Seeing her interact with the deer kind of makes sense, in a weird sort of way.  Dad’s relationship with them is somewhat more puzzling.  Although certainly a gentle soul himself, Dad was the one who taught me to aim a rifle at one of these creatures and shoot to kill.  I spent my entire childhood staring up at the mounted head of a deer the size of a small cow.  My dad’s work.  I ate many a mess of chicken fried steak made with venison — cooked by my mom, so I guess she is complicit as well, in a way.  And now the great deer slayer is feeding them cantaloupe — not to fatten them up, but just because it is pleasant, peaceful way to pass a decade or two.

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Flashy

There is a barber shop in India where they will set your hair on fire.  On purpose, I mean.  People ask for it.  They douse your hair with fragrance to retard the smell of smoke (as if that were the main objection).  Then they blowtorch you.  The top of your head ignites.  Flames shoot up, maybe six or eight inches.  Then the barber just sits back there and combs and cuts, combs and cuts, like it’s the most normal thing in the world.

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