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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Scenic Route

I don’t want to say I’m a city girl, but I compute the distance between two places by how many shopping malls I’ll pass on the way. Contrary to popular urban myths, in the south we don’t compute the miles by how many hills across the holler the neighbor lives or how far down the Appalachian Trail we have to wander to make it to South America. As a matter of fact, if Michael Jackson thought Never Land was a fantasy world, he should see the governor’s mansion here in South Carolina these days.

I’ve grown accustomed to city amenities such as vertical parking places instead of parallel ones, restaurants with drive through windows, and random Elvis sightings in poorly lit taverns, but I don’t live in a place where the yards are marked off by the lines in the concrete or where neon replaces methane as the gross natural gas of choice. As a general rule we grow grass rather than unroll it and are more likely to shoot doves for dinner instead of pop them on top of a wedding cake. Nothing unusual for small town America.

Except for the buffalo.

Riding along even major thoroughfares in our area, you’re never surprised by the random goat standing in a feed trough to the right or a large Labrador guarding a shady spot under a tree on the left. It’s unusual, but not unheard of, to see live chickens instead of lawn ornaments in occasional front yards on the way to the city dump. It did strike me as odd, though, when a coworker encountered a buffalo ambling down the road one summer evening.

I’m not sure which of the Department of Motor Vehicles’ strict principles of road travel apply to your standard buffalo encounter, but I know what my friend did. He gave him the right of way.

I felt the need to test the buffalo theory before I reported the adventure to friends. The people I know are repeat offenders when it comes to embellishing stories and often unfairly suspect me of the same behavior.

“How did you know it was a buffalo?”

He thought a minute. “It had a beard.”

Great. So it was either a buffalo or Abraham Lincoln’s ghost has taken to patrolling the passing lane of South Carolina highways.

“That wouldn’t get you very far with a police sketch artist. All you have is a Beard of Interest?”

“It was bigger than a cow.”

Bearded and bigger than a cow. Insert mother-in-law joke of your choice here. I needed more concrete evidence or that story was going to stay a secret until General Sherman replaced Smokey the Bear in the Stop Forest Fires campaign.

“It walked right down the middle of the road. And it looked hungry.”

Now we’re getting hot. A bearded road hog bigger than a cow wandering down a road in the twilight searching for a snack.

Another Elvis sighting. And he’s in disguise.


Nancy said...

Wonderful! Sure it wasn't Bubba after too many Buds?

Unknown said...

Hilarious! And so true! You know you're in the south when you give the right of way to a flock of guineas, too. But a buffalo? Wow.

JLC said...

Very funny! We had an interesting drive through the country the other day. Bats and Buddhists. Yep.. we saw bats flying around and a Buddhist checking his mailbox. (No, he didn't have a beard.)

Melissa Amateis said...

Hahaha! In northwestern Nebraska, we have a Nebraska Park called Fort Robinson where we have buffalo wandering around in the hills. You can also eat a buffalo burger, which actually tastes better than hamburger. :-)

Anonymous said...

All cows look like buffalo at 2:13a.m. when you run them over on a lone country road. Oh and the mess of hooves and horns, and insurance.

The word "Moo" will never sound the same again!


the Bag Lady said...

It couldn't have been a buffalo. They are smaller than cows.(Well, except for their heads...)
Or at least, they are smaller than our cows.
On the other hand, maybe we have really big cows.
Okay, it might have been a buffalo.
Or a cow in disguise.
Did it mince when it walked? Definitely a buffalo. Cows in disguise can't mince.

Amy Mullis said...

I'm not sure I'd be completely accurate about dimensions if I came across this guy at dusk on a country road. But Baggie, this is definitely more your area of expertise than mine. I mean, I like a nice beard as much as the next gal, but this is ridiculous.