I’m lucky that I still have an ear and a nose, without which my face would look unfinished. Or Cubist. It’s not because I had necrotizing fasciitis. (I’m ghostwriting a book right now about necrotizing fasciitis, leprosy, and other dreaded diseases, which is actually right up my alley as a devoted fan of Monsters Inside Me and Mystery Diagnosis. But I digress.)
My potential disfigurement was at the hands (well, not hands, exactly) of two wild animals. How I met them and how I escaped assault on my body parts is the real story here.
My nose almost left me during a journey in a drive-through zoo. (I didn’t know if they still existed until I asked Mr. Google. They do. Whether it’s a good idea, I’ll leave you to decide.)
One day, my husband and I visited the establishment in either Pennsylvania or New Jersey (exactly where it was is lost in the mists of time). The people who ran the place posted warnings about not trying to drive through any animals that blocked your path. They also warned you not to attempt the journey if you had a vinyl roof on your car. The car in front of us did have one and ignored the sign. They were quite alarmed when a troop of monkeys descended on their car. (Yes, a group of monkeys is called a troop. Mr. Google again.) We had an unobstructed view as they learned their lesson. The monkeys ripped holes in the vinyl top. Shredded it, really, which I don’t know if the occupants realized. The troop also pissed down the windshield, which they definitely did notice. From our vantage point, we could even see the look of disgust on the passenger’s face.
Our difficulty came a little later in the self-tour when we encountered a herd (yes, herd) of ostriches. A small herd, but still. They came very near the car, so we had a close-up view. As you can see from the photo, an ostrich close-up is pretty damn ugly. They don’t improve when the only thing separating you from one of them is a pane of glass.
That pane of glass – our car window – was the only thing that saved my face. I got to see one of the ostriches up close and personal. It strolled up to the car and peered curiously inside. I pressed my nose against the glass to see the ostrich better. It wanted to get closer to me, too. It took its hard, horny beak and tried to attack my nose. Peck! Peck! Peck! I could hear it striking the car window, which fortunately withstood the onslaught. Dan didn’t drive on, out of its reach. He was laughing too hard.
My other wild animal encounter came many years before that, when I was particularly young and stupid. It was at a local mall, where an area was set up that had baby animals. They were offering to take photos of customers with a baby animal. Being a cat lover, I chose the baby lion. The photo you see here is the result.
The attendant hefted the lion into my lap. As you can tell, even though it was a youngster, it was still quite heavy. I could barely hold it upright. I smiled like the idiot I was, and they snapped the picture.
Right after the picture was taken, the lion looked over at me, stuck out its huge, rough tongue, and slurped my ear. In less than a second, the attendant swooped in, snatched the lion out of my lap, and put it back in its pen. My theory (and theirs too) was that the lion was taking an exploratory taste test to see if my ear was worth snacking on.
(No, I don’t remember whether the attendant was the infamous Joe Exotic, but I kind of doubt it. I think I would have remembered his remarkable appearance. I do know that they don’t allow this kind of thing anymore, which I didn’t need Mr. Google to ascertain. (I did find out that it was legal until last year when Biden signed a ban.) But I digress again.)
Because of those incidents, I’ve learned my lesson. I have kept my interactions with animals limited to domesticated cats, semi-domesticated dogs, and the occasional garter snake that my husband sometimes catches. The cats, despite being domesticated, have damaged my skin with tooth and claw, though the wounds seldom get infected.
I haven’t lost any actual body parts yet. And I avoid ostriches and lions, not that they roam the countryside in Ohio. But I keep an eagle (sorry not sorry) eye out!
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