Biff America: A floral offense
Rocky had no idea how close he came to having his little brains blown out all over the yard.
I’m not one of those liberals who are against all guns, insensitive jokes or old redneck dudes wearing “Lock Her Up” shirts so tight they look like a Holstein cow. I believe there are good folks in both parties and that mine has become too politically correct. For instance, if folks want to fly the flag used by the Confederacy, I’m cool with that. As long as it’s the white, “we surrender” flag and not the stars and bars.
By the same token, I’m not anti-hunting or ranching. I eat meat when my mate isn’t around. My wife, Ellie, is not so cavalier. With finer-tuned sensitivities, she is not a connoisseur of a juicy burger.
That is why I was shocked when she stormed into the house and said, “Rocky is outside. You need to kill him.”
The gun fighter Clay Allison’s gravestone reads, “He never killed a man who didn’t need killing.” I’m not sure Rocky fell into that category, but I will say he was a much smaller target. Rocky is a squirrel.
We thought Rocky was cute when we first noticed him around our yard in early spring. He would hang out under our bird feeder and eat the seeds that those glutton finches spilled. I named him after the Rocky and Bullwinkle show, which ran in the ’60s when I was a little kid and my mate wasn’t born.
All would have been well if he’d confined his diet to birdseed. But as the wildflowers began to bloom in our yard, Rocky considered it a salad bar. Ellie remained progressive and principled when she noticed a few bites taken out of some lupines, paintbrush and sneezeweed.
After noticing that Rocky had put on weight and many of our flowers were topless, he lost much of his cuteness. It was after Ellie saw him waddling down our walkway with a bouquet of red columbines in his mouth that she decided Rocky needed to die.
I own guns. But unlike those dudes who eat Viagra like M&M’s, I don’t feel the need to make a show of carrying them openly to the grocery store while I shop for tofu. Easily, the most-used weapon in my arsenal is a BB gun. I have a range set up in my basement with an old 8-by-10-inch publicity photo of myself as a target. In all modesty, I’m a good shot.
Rocky wasn’t the first of God’s creatures upon which my mate imposed the death sentence. Last summer, she demanded I kill two cowbirds.
Cowbirds suck. They go to the unattended nests of songbirds, push out the eggs and replace them with eggs of their own. Then the cowbirds spy on the songbird mother, laughing hysterically as she sits on the eggs, thinking they are hers. Eventually the eggs hatch, and rather than being pretty songbirds, they are ugly cowbirds and often the male songbird accuses the female of infidelity. (I’m just guessing about the last part.)
Last summer, I was in my office when Ellie came up saying there were two cowbirds in the front yard that I needed to kill. Since cowbird killing was included in our prenuptials, I grabbed my BB gun and dispatched both of them from over 30 feet away.
Fast forward to a few weeks ago when my mate ran inside our house and said, “Rocky is outside. You need to kill him.” So rifle in hand, I ran out to the back deck to see Rocky about 40 feet away with a mouth full of poppies. Ellie stood behind me and said, “Don’t hurt him, just kill him. I don’t want him to suffer.” I sighted in as the squirrel enjoyed his last meal. I placed my finger on the trigger and exhaled.
Sensing our presence, Rocky looked up, stuffed the poppies in his cheeks and sprinted toward us. He leaped up on a tree, bounded to another and then, with amazing grace, leaped to our deck’s railing, landing 5 feet from my gun’s muzzle. He got so close I could stare into his big, brown eyes. He looked happy and full.
Rocky is no longer with us, and I have returned the Havahart trap I borrowed. I hope he is happy in his relocated home a few miles away at an upscale home that has — or had — lots of wildflowers.
Jeffrey Bergeron’s column “Biff America” publishes Mondays in the Summit Daily News. Bergeron has worked in TV and radio for more than 30 years, and his column can be read in several newspapers and magazines. He is the author of “Mind, Body, Soul.” Bergeron arrived in Breckenridge when there was plenty of parking and no stop lights. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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