Monday, April 6, 2009
Sins of the Mother: When Animals Attack
I’m hanging all of my hopes for absolution on my daughter’s future career as a veterinarian. Perhaps, through Princess’s dedication to helping and saving animals, I will be forgiven by the animal kingdom for whatever sins I have committed in my previous lives.
I’ve always clung to the belief that animals know, instinctually, who is out to get them and who, conversely, is truly an animal lover that means them no harm. Why, then, has my life been littered with random attacks by wild and quasi-wild animals? I’m a vegan. I don’t eat animals. I try not to wear animals. I don’t steal their eggs, don’t subject them to naked humiliation by shaving them to spin their wool…
Obviously, in some previous incarnation, I was a hunter. Or a trapper. Or, simply, an animal hater.
How else to explain the unprovoked attack by a swan when I was three? That’s right – a swan. I was walking in the park with my mom and brother when a swan charged me and bit me. Perhaps my pre-vegan toddler breath smelled of chicken nuggets or eggs. Whatever the reason, the swan found my presence offensive and targeted me.
When I was five, I was attacked by a swarm of bees. In the bees’ defense, I did tromp over their home, but it was an accident that occurred during a rousing game of Follow the Leader through the woods near my friend’s house. She led, I followed… right over the top of a nest of bees. Her feet shook the bees up; mine angered them so thoroughly that they attacked, en masse, the little child attached to the intruding feet. The neighbors stripped my clothing down to my underwear to get the bees off while I screamed. My mother arrived in short order and, without access to a car, called the hospital instead of rushing me to the emergency room. She was told to pull the stingers out with tweezers (she stopped counting at 50), give me Tylenol, and watch for any alarming symptoms, such as a temperature over 105 degrees, paralysis, or death. Should any of those symptoms occur, she was to call 911 immediately. That’s right… if I died, she learned, someone should call 911.
At the age of six, I was bit by a ferret. Ferrets are interesting creatures in that they don’t bite and then let go. Instead, they bite and hold on, chewing the meat free. My six-year old screams were heard throughout the neighborhood, and the fingerprint of my right middle finger is permanently altered by a V-shaped scar through it.
In junior high, my face was scarred by Bambi. Not the real Bambi, of course, but a relative closely resembling the original friendly forest creature. Family friends had been feeding a little deer that visited their home, and I was fascinated by how tame he appeared. The sweet little guy was so cute, with his little budding antlers and big eyes. I fed him a carrot, and then wandered off to talk to my parents. Suddenly, I heard my name called, along with a loud “Look out!” warning. Alarmed, I turned around to see what the danger was, and found myself facing Bambi, reared up on his hind legs, hooves raised, ready to beat on my head. Instead, his hooves gouged down the middle of my face. As I raised my hands to my bloody face in pain and disbelief, someone explained to me that young male deer “play” with one another by beating each other on the heads with their hooves. How delightful.
Equally delightful was the experience of actually having to tell my friends at school that the deep, scabby trenches down my face were caused by the real-life version of a Disney character.
I fully expect, once Princess graduates from vet school and begins saving the animal world, whatever sins I’ve committed against nature will be fully atoned for. In my opinion, raising a veterinarian is a small price to pay for being able to walk out my front door without fear of being jumped by a gang of angry squirrels.