Things You Don’t Want to See In The Woods.

190222 Christen in the Fog IMG_5638

“Because you don’t want to be alone in the woods and run into some random guy with an axe….”

These are the things girls say jokingly to each other when setting out for a trail run together. However, I run in the woods alone fairly regularly, and when I do, my mantra is more like “So I’m out here in the woods all alone and haven’t seen anyone for miles and am starting to feel creeped out BUT what are the chances that the one person I do see is an axe murderer?”

Axes apparently play a big part into the worst-case-scenario imaginings of woods and women. And that’s just where axes are supposed to stay. IN OUR IMAGINATIONS.

Except for this one time.

My friend Christen and I were out for a trail run. We were enjoying a very nice, normal, and safe loop around a well-trodden lake at a local state park. We hadn’t seen many people out that day yet, but there were a few. It had been a quiet mile or two when we saw a guy ahead of us with two dogs. It was a single track trail, so he pulled off to the side with the dogs well before we approached, as is how it usually goes for the oft-followed “the slower person pulls off the trail” rule. 

Except that he also felt the need to yell reassurances to us.

“Don’t worry!! They’re very friendly!! They won’t bother you!!”

I’m not a fan of dogs, but I’m also not usually worried about them. I found his warning…odd. He had just finished his reassurances when I reached his bend in the trail.

…And I noticed that he was leaning on a waist-length handle. My eyes followed the large handle down to the ground…where I saw a nicely sharpened, shiny axe blade.

Because split second unexpected situations in life sometimes can make one speak before thinking, I immediately shot back, “I’m more worried about your axe than I am the dogs!”

He nudged it lightheartedly.

“Oh, this? It’s just in case we see any snakes.”

I am a fan of snakes, however, and quickly shot back again. .

“What?? Why would you kill snakes?? You can’t kill snakes! You’re in a State Park!!”

(Not to mention that he was also carrying a VIOLENT and (not-yet-)BLOODY FREAKING WEAPON in a State Park and SURELY this was NOT okay.)

He jovially said, “Oh, don’t worry, we just kill the poisonous ones.”

By this time we were 100 feet down the trail from him and the reality of my rather rash and impudent conversation was starting to sink in. Had I just argued with the very first axe-wielding man-in-the-woods I’d ever run into on a trail run? 

Yes. Yes I had.

Obviously if I run into a real axe murderer, it’s gonna go so very well.

Meanwhile, Christen was having her own personal crisis. She pulled up beside me, panting, and said,

“Oh my goodness I didn’t even notice that he had an axe until you said something. THIS IS WHY I CAN NEVER RUN ALONE.”

We discussed axe man for the next mile, then pulled into a nearby bathroom. There was a State Park worker at the bathrooms, and I went back and forth, back and forth with myself as to whether I should report Axe Man. She seemed like such a nice State Park worker…I didn’t want her to die.

And then I heard him, not far off, whistling for one of his dogs…and I didn’t want to die for being a rat.

So I didn’t report him.

As we ran away from the bathrooms, he pulled alongside us in his truck.

Here it goes. Here we go.

“Y’all are making me just exhausted with all your running!!”

Yes, yes we are, sir. We’re clearly the problem here.

The Incident at Walgreen’s.

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We were on our way home from dinner. The weather was abhorrent, but we needed two things from Walgreen’s. I went in on behalf of the whole family, because I’m sacrificial like that and also because one cannot trust one’s husband to pick out an eyebrow filling pencil. He probably doesn’t even know I fill in my eyebrows. Or what it means to fill in one’s eyebrows. I was trying to hurry, as we were all ready to get home and out of the cold rain. This whole 38-degrees-and-raining selection on the Weather Jukebox is one of those records that when it starts playing, everyone groans in unison and says “REALLY?! PATRICIA, C’MON. NO ONE LIKES THAT TRACK BUT YOU!!”

But dang it if Patricia hasn’t been hitting that track hard lately.

I made my selections and scrambled up to the counter. Except…that I got behind a lady buying all the Christmas decor. Her questionable hair dye job was about a foot from the top of her head, which boasted of gray strands sticking out any which way. Her double pack of Pall Malls were hanging out of her purse, desperately trying to escape. Her house shoes were a lovely shade of pet hair. And she wanted to make sure that she was able to use the most Walgreen’s rewards possible – whether that was on her husband’s or her account. She impossibly-slowly explained “We never use them … then they expire … and my husband … comes in and gets his prescriptions … but never uses his points … but I might have more … so I need you to check both …”

The patient cashier checked both accounts. Told her that she had $3 available to use. “Is that … on his account or mine … ?” He explained that it was from both accounts and she could use it all.

What a windfall day.

Maybe now we could move forward in this process of CHECKING OUT.

(I was becoming pretty sure that I was standing behind the very same Patricia that selected the day’s awful track on the Weather Jukebox.)

But then she noticed the total. “But all those … decorations … were supposed to be fifty percent off … “

“No ma’am…they’re BUY ONE get one 50% off.”

I internally roll my eyes. I’ll never get out of here. And Christmas decorations are never 50% off before Christmas (except at places where things are always 50% off like Hobby Lobby but we’re not at Hobby Lobby we’re at Walgreen’s and everyone knows that Walgreen’s is more of a buy one get one 50% off kind of place.)

“No, they were … definitely … 50% off.”

The cashier, still patient and smiling (#GodBlessHisSoul) called over the loudspeaker for help.

The manager came up. She said, “They’re buy one get one 50% off.”

“No, they were … definitely … 50% off.”

The manager, not being as patient as the cashier, said rather sassily with a bit of an “Oh yeah?!” implied, “Was it a red tag or a yellow tag?”

Mrs. Patricia Pall Mall looked her dead in the eye. “It was … a blue tag.”

Both the cashier and manager snorted.

“We don’t have blue tags.”

“It was … a blue tag.”

“Well, your total is $26.67.”

“Then … let me … think about it … for a minute.”

OHMYGOODNESS NO. PATRICIA, NO ONE HAS TIME FOR YOU TO THINK ABOUT IT FOR A MINUTE. YOU CAN’T EVEN SPIT OUT A SENTENCE IN UNDER A MINUTE.

But she grabbed all her decor up and headed back into the store. The manager went to the other register and called over to me, “I can take you over here, ma’am.”

She was ringing up my items, shaking her head, and muttering “Blue tag. We don’t have a single blue tag in this store! Not a one. There ain’t no blue tags. You can take your card out now, ma’am. Happy Holidays. Blue tags. Psh.”

As I took my card out, I turned to look over my shoulder – I guess I sensed Patricia approaching.

Indeed. She was shuffling slowly back to the counter, the same hopeful purchases in one hand and … a … FREAKING BLUE TAG in the other.

I nearly walked out the door backwards to enjoy the sight of the Manager and Cashier staring openmouthed at this legendary, impossible, nonexistent, nay, 50% off, blue tag.

The moral of this story is: don’t be a Blue Tag Denier. And make your husband go into Walgreen’s. And if Patricia says it’s 50% off, it’s probably 50% off.

A Letter: From the Cat, To The UPS Man.

Dear Bringer of Brown Squares,

Hi. I am the cat that calls the porch of the blue house my own. They call me Thomas, but others call me Midnight, Snape, Voldemort, and That $%*#& Stray Cat.

You brought a couple brown squares and left them on the porch today, as you usually do. I always like to try and read the letters on the squares.

A-M-A-Z….

Obviously, the squares come to herald how amazing I am.

But I felt the need to apologize for the state that you found my home in. The Owners of The Blue House hadn’t discovered my extremely generous gifting yet, and so…you had to step around some things.

You had to SEE some things.

For one, the dead and fully in tact chipmunk to the left of the front door. I left that one for the humans – they do love protein.

For two, the decapitated chipmunk, with the best pieces of intestines laid out as fancy as a formal dinner at Downton Abbey, on the welcome mat. That was going to be my pre-lunch snack, once it had attained more of a rubbery patina.

For three, the generously sized watery portion of chipmunk-related vomit on the third porch step. I’m sure that was hard to maneuver around, especially with those large brown squares in your hand.

That was to remind the humans how despicably they treat me.

These tortured corpses weren’t intended for you, gracious provider of material happiness encapsulated in brown squares, but for the Wicked Lords of the Manor, whom I despise with the heat of a thousand suns.

(And also, puzzlingly, whom I love and adore. I’m a complex being.)

The problem is, they quit feeding me. After screaming and yelling with what I can only imagine was uncontained glee at my increasingly graphic presents on their porch, they showed their appreciation by ceasing the provision of bowls of my cardboard-like nutritional substance.

I don’t understand.

I think they thought I would move on, to stay at one of the MANY other neighborhood houses that I frequent.

But, even after I go collect my half-dozen offerings of cat food from the other neighbors, I prefer them.

I prefer to stay at their windows and meow day and night.

I prefer to vomit directly into their electrical outlets.

I prefer to feast upon furry friends on their porch, leaving science projects for the kids – I mean, how else are they going to find out that Chipmunk hearts and lungs and intestines and livers are so easy to identify?? And discover how microscopic but Mortal-Kombat-looking a Chipmunk spinal column can be? I’m basically providing lab classes for their homeschool, free of charge. You’re welcome, Evil Overlords.

And it’s really no trouble – the tasteless tic-tac-toe shaped food they gave me just made me lazy. I much prefer the fresh catch of the day. So now I leave ten times the amount of corpses on their front porch. That’ll show them how good their strategies are.

And anyway. I sometimes catch The Lady of the Manor taking pictures of my leftovers. So I suspect she secretly appreciates it.

Swimming-Through-Life-Chipmunk-IMG_0793Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming, Just Keep Swimming…

But, I recognize that perhaps my banquet tables were a bit unsettling to your brown square delivery. You maybe were jealous of my adoration and provision for my host family. And I wanted to apologize. For all the feelings you must have felt, as you stepped over that large biley pile of intestines, and gazed upon my upcoming snack that was being perfectly seasoned as it baked in the sun.

Perhaps next time, if you could just slip a bag of cat food into that brown square?

That’d be great.

Sincerely,

Thomas the Cat.

p.s. Whatever you did totally worked! Thank you, deliverer of brown squares. They have ended their strike against me and have reissued their provision of tic-tac-toe food. Although now they’re serving it all the way around the back of the house. I think they think it’ll make me leave my presents back where no one can see them. Heh. Now WHY would I do that.