Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Oblivious, Ungrateful Child And The Hungry Coyote.*

This morning my youngest and his best friend were sitting on the couch listening to "music" before they left for school. I poured myself coffee and cereal and opened the paper.

After a few minutes, I called up to them, "What was that?"

"What?" they asked.

"That noise. It sounded like coyotes."

"Shut up," said my youngest.

"Seriously," I said. "I think I heard them. You'll need to be careful on your walk to school."

"What's he talking about?" said my son's friend.

"He's just weird," said my son.

I walked upstairs to where they were sitting. "You know how coyotes attack, don't you?"

"How?" asked his friend.

"They like to cull the herd. They'll find the slowest child, cut him off from the pack, and take him down. Like this," I said, squeezing the back of his leg. He shrieked and rolled away from me.

"So if the coyotes get one of you, the other one needs to run for help," I said. "In fact, if you hear anything unfamiliar at all today, start running and screaming 'coyote' as loud as you can."

"I'd just leave him to die," said my son, nodding at his friend.

"That's not what we did for you in Yellowstone," I reminded him.

When he was quite small, my friend's family and mine went on an extended joint family vacation that included Yellowstone. The trip was what one would expect with six boys and four adults sharing twelve days on the road, but the potential coyote attack still holds a special place in my heart.

Along the shores of Lake Yellowstone, my friend and I cast for fish, without luck of course, given the enormous rocks being thrown into the lake by the kids while our wives did their best to pretend they weren't with us. All of a sudden there was a commotion as geese floating just offshore scattered to the four winds.

Sure enough, a coyote had made a run at them. Disappointed, he began to retreat back up the hill until he spied my youngest, who was standing not too far from his mother. Then the animal stopped and the wheels began to turn.

My friend and I watched the coyote as my son wandered obliviously on the beach. In turn, the coyote watched my son. Finally he began creeping toward the boy.

"Hey!" we yelled at our wives. "HEY!!"

They continued to ignore us. The coyote continued to creep forward. My friend and I quickly reeled in and started charging down the beach waving our fishing rods.

"HEY!! we screamed.

Our wives and the coyote looked up at about the same time. Unlike the women, he reacted, beating a quick retreat across the road. I scooped up my son, who still unaware of the threat, simply looked at me with a puzzled expression.

The story of how I saved his life has since become legend around our household and I was happy to share it today with his friend. When I finished, he was in awe.

"My dad never saved my life," he said.

"He would if he had to," I said. "You're dad's a good man."

"My mom says she knew where I was the whole time," he told his friend. "She says Dad's just exaggerating, like he always does."

I pinned him on the couch and squeezed his leg like I had his friend's. He howled and struggled without success. Finally I let him up.

"Every day's a gift," I said.

*Title courtesy of Brando.


Brando said...

This is another tale from Snag Grimm, "The Oblivious, Ungrateful Child and the Hungry Coyote."

Anonymous said...

Brando, with a story like this -- I would be running from a pregnant wife like a man who has just spied Lorena B.