Deer-ly beloved: more backyard interviews

Telluride Daily Planet, Sunday, August 14, 2011

MCW: [sneaking up, broom raised] Ha! I knew it! You again.

Backyard Deer freezes mid-chew, staring straight ahead.

MCW: Look at this devastation! All my hanging strawberry tendrils, and all the pansies. Gone.

Backyard Deer’s right nostril inadvertently flares.

MCW: Puh-lease. Spare me the frozen act, and the pretending you don’t speak. And that I can’t see you because you’re not moving. And that this is the only food around. [pointing to nearby hillsides with broom] I’ve seen the strawberry numbers this year. I’ve eaten the early raspberries. And those golden oceans of chanterelles—

BDeer: [interrupting] We don’t eat those.

MCW: [beaming] But you do, in fact, speak—

BDeer: Yeah, well, I try not to do it with my mouth full. So what’s up? [yanking hard at a tendril and uprooting an entire strawberry plant; letting it fall to the ground]

MCW: [astounded by mule deer nerve] Well, if it’s not too much trouble — you have dirt on your lip, by the way — maybe you’d consider answering some interview questions.

BDeer: Not unless you change your tone. And put that broom down. Oooooh, like I’m so scared of hay on a stick —

MCW: [stung] “Oooooh?”

BDeer: See how obnoxious that tone feels? Anyway, what do you want to know? The same things as everybody else? If my nose is licorice or rubber? If I carry plague? If I hate playing second fiddle to elk? No, no and no. We don’t compare everything constantly like humans do. It’s a wonder you have any idea at all who you are, the way you constantly compare and contrast.

MCW: Hold on, mister. Pretty much everything is defined by contrast: light and dark, right and wrong, myself and the other. Not to mention, that’s how essay questions are phrased.

BDeer: Human consciousness is not defined by contrast! What’s an essay question?

MCW: An essay question is how humans test each other for knowledge. And since when do you know so much about human consciousness?

BDeer: Ironically, right now, by how little you seem to know. Comparing! Contrasting!

MCW: Touché. Gosh, if I’d known you were a savant I’d have been out here every morning with my coffee, firing questions at you — for my sake as well as all humanity’s.

BDeer: Tone alert. Do you even know what sincerity is? You who have based most of what you know about me on the movie “Bambi?”

MCW: Sincerity? Sure I do. Bambi was sincere, as a matter of fact.

BDeer: [laughing] Nice. Very good. For that you get three questions. Fire away.

MCW: About anything?

BDeer: Sure. Nothing rhetorical, sarcastic or idiotic. That pares it down.

MCW: OK. Wow. I wasn’t ready for this. Um. No. 1. What do you think about when it’s, like, January, and you’re cold and you can’t find food?

BDeer: Are you serious? File under idiotic, por favor.

MCW: So, that’s what I get when I’m sincere? I really want to know, Mr. Rubber Nose: Do animals ever wish the weather were different so that things would be better, easier? Sometimes my feet get so cold in my skate ski boots nothing feels right in the world. I feel utterly alienated.

BDeer: No. We don’t have that. Again, we don’t compare the present to the past and wish for a different future. We feel alive in whatever moment and move through it as if there were no other present.

MCW: As if there were no other present. Hm. I’ll try to recall that in the dead of winter. Get my deer on.

BDeer: I don’t know what that means.

MCW: Unimportant. Do you dream?

BDeer: We do. But I’m not allowed to talk about that.

MCW: You said I could ask anything. Why can’t you talk about it?

Backyard D: I didn’t say I had to answer everything. Is that your third question?

MCW: No, no it’s not. [ruminating] No, here’s my third question: If you could ask me one question, what would it be?

BDeer: [smiling] I would ask you: Do you have any apples? A friend had one once and said it was the best thing he ever ate.

MCW: I only have green ones.

BDeer: As compared to what?

MCW: Never mind! Yes, deer. I’m happy to give you an apple, in all its apple-ness. I hope you find it sweet without knowing what sour is, crunchy without thinking what mushy might be, and satisfying without thinking it might be the only one you ever eat.

BDeer: I shall indeed.

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