Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Bitten

I love animals with an almost Lenny-like enthusiasm. There is just something about them that causes me to lose all rational thinking, and want to get close, no matter what they are, no matter where, and with very little thought about whether or not they want me close, or what they may do to prevent it. Ryan calls me an "animal harasser." I prefer "enthusiast." I have never been seriously injured in one of my encounters with an animal, no sting ray barbs to the chest or anything, which is probably why I still go after them. No, most of my injuries have been minor, needing only a band-aid and a short lecture from Ryan.

Most of the injuries happen not because I am trying to touch the animal per se, but because I am trying to feed it. Of course, I'm giving it food so it will get close enough for me to touch it, but let's not split hairs. This pattern started very early in life, when my parents would take us to the zoo. This was in the 70's when zoos didn't care if visitors fed the animals, because it helped them cut down on food costs. Now all the animals are on the Zone diet or some shit, so giving them popcorn is out. But when I was a kid I remember skipping happily through the zoo, my popcorn in hand, just waiting to share it with my animal friends. And then I met the Emu.


I should have know that bird was evil just by it's height. But something sucked me in, maybe it's long, beautiful eyelashes, and I wanted to give it all of my popcorn. I fed it until there were only crumbs in the bottom of the bag, and then I tried to feed it the crumbs. The Emu decided it would rather have my finger. My Mother doesn't think I remember this incident clearly, but I swear the fucker held as long as it could, rolling it's eyes back in it's head and digging it's weird bird toes into the ground, trying to pull me in. This was no accidental "oops, I thought that was popcorn" bite, this Emu meant to eat me. Since that encounter I have been bitten by several animals as I tried to feed them. The iguana, the pompano (fish), and the pig were all merely trying to take food out of my hand when my fingers accidentally got in the way. But, the Emu, it was a blood thirsty menace. If I ever see Emu meat on a menu, I'm ordering it.

When I am not trying to feed an animal, I am just trying to get close to it to foster a better sense of understanding and camaraderie. Either that or I am trying to impress my friends with my non-existent animal wrangler skills. This was the case with the crab.

I guess I wasn't really bitten by the crab, I was actually pinched, but it still hurt like a son of a bitch. We were in Mexico and I was trying to show my friend Megan that there was no reason to be afraid of the thousands of crabs that were scurrying all around the house. Because you really didn't see them, but instead just heard them chattering across the floor, I thought I would catch one and show it to her in the light. I actually caught several, but most of them were too little to assuage her fear. So, I went after one of the big ones, and it went right back at me. It pinched me so hard it's claw fell off, and even after it had gotten away, the claw kept pinching. So, there I was, in pain because of the pinch, and also feeling like a royal asshole because I had caused a crab to maim itself to escape my clutches. Ryan went on and on about how the crab would now have to go through life with only one claw, and would possibly end up begging on the streets just to make ends meet. I looked it up though, and they can regenerate limbs. Still, I felt like a heel. Even worse than I felt when that lizard shed it's tail so I couldn't catch it.

My scariest animal encounters have happened under water, because there is usually no telling if something is dangerous until it's too late. Of course, some things advertise their danger, with spikes, or bright colors. But I normally don't pay attention to that stuff anyway. For instance, the appearance of the spiny sea urchin should have been enough to let me know not to touch. But, in my defense, I wasn't trying to touch the urchin, but the arrow crab hiding underneath it. Those things are cool. They clean the parasites off your fingernails if you pick one up. Better than a fish pedicure. Of course, they are also a taste treat for larger fish, so they hide anywhere they can. And this one had picked a great place.

The urchin barb hurt going into my finger, but after that it didn't really bug me. I think I was too busy watching the blood surge out of my finger and hoping it would attract sharks. I had never pet a shark before, after all. It wasn't until I got out of the water and onto the boat that my finger started to throb and I remembered the bad thing about urchin pokes -- the tip stays in your skin until it disintegrates. So, the next few weeks were a little painful, but also cool. I mean, how many other people can say the large purple mark on the tip of their finger is from a sea urchin? Not many, I'll tell you that.

I know it may seem like I am being flippant about my apparent abuse of the animals. However, I would like to think I am giving them props. They give as good as they get -- usually leave me hobbling away, sucking on my fingers and feeling slightly ashamed. I mean, not ashamed enough to avoid chasing the next squirrel I see, but almost.

Damn, I love squirrels. I wonder how hard they bite...

5 comments:

Amanda said...

This is one to save for the records.

Tara said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tara said...

your next blog should be about all the people who have bitten you when you go to close. Remember that homeless lady in the subway? Ahhh - good times. I'm glad they don't have to give rabies shots in the stomach anymore.

Bethany said...

If you want close encounter with a squirrel come to FL. There is a park where they don't mind trying to steal food from your hands... Especially peanut butter. They gang up on you for that stuff. :-) But I don't know if they bite...

Emily-Ione said...

Please don't ever enter veterinary medicine....you'd kill someone's workers comp insurance.