Thursday, February 24, 2011


The line led from a pair of double doors at an unremarkable salt cracker building and snaked around the edge of the parking lot. Many of the people looked like they only came out of the holler when they got a new circular from Walmart or when it was time to cash a monthly check.

This was a hardscrabble, blue collar bunch. They were conservative in what they smiled about and muddled through the wait with annoyed resignation. Somebody was going to get something they didn't get and the opportunity to eat buffalo, elk or kangaroo only came around once a year.

About half the people brought cans. There was a canned food drive as part of the meal. Donations were encouraged, but not necessary. Plenty counted on that and they arrived with their families. Others gave what they felt they could get away with: off brand corn, green beans or bags of dusty pinto beans.

The man behind me said he didn't much care for the rabbit here.

"They don't do it up right," he said. "Me? I boil mine for 45 minutes then flour it, add salt and pepper then fry it. That's just the way you do rabbit."

I didn't tell him I was a little queasy about doing this. I've been trying to cut back on eating animals and animal products as a way to live a little kinder. Instead, I said, "I haven't eaten rabbit since I was probably 10 years old."

His wife, clearly his second or third, hung on his shoulder and asked him if it was going to take so long. She was about 30 years his junior and maybe only half a dozen years older than the man's granddaughter who was trying to keep up with a 3 year-old.

The little girl kept trying to pick my pocket.

"Katie, stop that," the granddaughter said. "You leave the man's wallet alone. It's not yours."

Then she apologized. She apologized too much, actually, kind of giggled and I swear, she batted her eyelashes and smiled.

My first thought, "You have to be fucking kidding me."

She might have been 16, but I have my doubts.

The old guy told me about his farm and how he'd sort of taken advantage of the hard year for the squirrels and deer the year before. He'd set out food for them and when the season came, he'd taken what he wanted.

"Within the law," he said, but getting a deer had been no trouble at all and his eyesight was shot.

He was glad to get the deer, but disappointed, too. It wasn't as much fun. The sport had been removed from the hunt and it gave him little pleasure.

He'd hunted for decades and some years it fed him better than others. Many times, it had been necessary.

"I've been on my own since I was 12," he told me.

Now, he had to rely on others --his ridiculously young wife, his jail-bait granddaughter and the rest of the family living with him on his farm. He was used to providing, to being in command, but his control was beginning to slip. He could drive and get around, but he had to watch his sugar. He had to take pills.

"I hope they get the smoked turkey right," he said finally. "The stuff made me sick last year."

1 comment:

The Film Geek said...

That was such an enjoyable post to read. Really well written.