“You know, ferrets like to eat babies’ faces.”
My attention had drifted away from Patty’s conversation with her sister and brother-in-law. For the past half-hour of our visit to their home, all I caught was “nothing, nothing, Brian, nothing, you’re not, nothing, listening.” I missed nothing. This juicy rodent-shaped morsel beckoned me back.
Already, the seeds of a kids’ story were taking root in my brain. For a working title, I chose The Ferret Fancies Sally. This rolled off the tongue with greater ease than my initial idea—Mr. Ferret Bores an Angry Hole Through a Tiny Head—which seemed a touch wordy for a children’s title.
Patty added, “It’s true. Ferrets will just gnaw straight through.” Kathleen then added, “I bet a lot of parents don’t like to keep ferrets around because of this.” I was glad she tacked this on, because it’s the sort of anomaly that catches one by surprise—like, “Good moms don’t let toddlers play with food processors,” or “Two of three dentists agree it’s unwise to clean a loaded gun with your mouth.”
We were half-watching Fatal Attractions, a new show about animal lovers who convinced themselves tigers and giant lizards made good stand-ins for lap dogs, and later had "Oops...who knew?" moments. I had little desire to watch TV, but after my sister-in-law tossed out the farm-themed tablecloth in which, on a previous visit, I pointed out numerous dildos disguised as grain silos, I lacked ready conversation starters.
(I’m not a betting man, but my guess is my brother-in-law sprung for a new tablecloth rather than eat his dinner each night on a sea of provincial but prosthetic dongs. Mission accomplished. So we watched TV while I tried to conjure other ways to make my hosts insecure about their home accessories. But I digress...)
These true-life stories are heart-rending and tragic—but in a nice way. To my mind, if you think a black panther is a more trustworthy companion than a golden retriever, you (a) have a gambling problem, and (b) are blog-worthy. In my upcoming book, I started a chapter by fondly recalling the violent death of Timothy Treadwell, who did the world a huge solid when he tried everything short of bathing in beef broth to make sure grizzly bears saw him as lunch. It worked.
I paid attention to a particularly harrowing segment about a woman so ripped up by a chimp that police thought she was a ripped-up man. Through the screams of both chimp and man-woman, the caller shrieked to the 911 dispatcher, “Kill him. It don’t matter. It don’t matter.” On the screen, subtitles mirrored this message.
My sister-in-law gasped. I also gasped. I said, “I know, right? She should have said, ‘It doesn’t matter.’ Silly goose.”
A victim of another chimp attack removed his latex nose from his face (his real nose in the stomach of said chimp). This was cool, but I wondered where he had purchased his new “nose”, which in no way matched his skin tone. If a chimp munched off my schnozz, I’d have fun with my predicament. I’d buy something from Party City, like a clown’s nose or crocodile’s snout. That way, I could entertain young children who, upon pulling the nose away, would scream themselves to sleep every night through adolescence. After this, just TRY to tap the little gaffer on the nose and say "boop". Priceless.
I laughed and laughed at the funny people and their dangerous pets— and then came the part about genitals.
It would seem that chimps, when attacking, peel off the victim’s face, then hands, then feet. This, I believe, is unfortunate. The chimps then rip off and consume the genitals. This, I believe, is most unfortunate, especially since Party City doesn’t sell good stand-ins other than balloons, which would seem like showing off.
A short time later, as we said our goodbyes, I made a mental note. On my next visit, I would present my sister-in-law with my undivided attention—that, and a shiny new, conversation-provoking tablecloth.