Chap’s son came over to the house this past weekend to help his dad do Manly Man Things
Outdoors, which makes me happy, because not only do I like the kid, it also gets me out of helping Chap do Manly Man Things Outdoors–of course since the accident, most of my contribution to Chap’s Manly Man Things Outdoors is to sit on my little pillow and say, “You missed a spot.”
Chap, in true southern fashion, nicknames everyone–kind of like carrying on that fine Native American tradition of bestowing names on folks for animals they look like, something they have done–good or bad–and sometimes for the person’s character. Or lack of it.
Chap calls his best friend “Buford,” which is nothing at all like his real name, but it stuck, and now even Buford’s wife and mother call him Buford.
Chap’s son is “Bone Head.”
That’s what he has always called him. Even after the three years we’ve been together, it’s still a little disconcerting when Chap is busy at the barbecue pit and hollers, “Bone Head! Ribs are done!”
Luckily, we don’t have any really close neighbors.
Anyway, after Chap and Bone Head finished whatever Manly Man Things Outdoors that needed doing, they went fishing, and caught a whole mess o’ fish, which they paraded proudly in front of me so I could admire their handiwork. And they, in turn, will talk about these fish, their weight and how many they caught, and will tell everyone–his friends, my friends, and strangers on the street the grueling story of how they found, lured and conquered the fish, stopping just short of pounding on their chests and peeing on trees.
I’m not sure if men in other parts of the country show off whatever it is they’ve killed. Here, if a man kills a critter, it will very likely wind up stropped to the grill of his pickup and be paraded around town so all can admire his prowess at shooting an unarmed animal.
They also insist on having their photos taken with these carcasses–deer, rabbit, fish–it doesn’t matter. If they’ve killed it, they want you to crank up the Kodak so that long after the thing has been chicken-fried and set on the dinner table, the victory is captured in all its MGM Technicolor glory.
This is a point of contention between Chap and me. There are three carcasses nailed above our fireplace, and those sweet deer faces gaze down on me, frozen in accusation. I dare you to try to have a nice, peaceful dinner with a dead deer staring at you.
Chap recently told me that he wants another head on our wall, and I said, “What is it about having animal carcasses nailed to the wall?”
“They’re pretty,” he said.
To which I said, “So’s your sister but I doubt we’ll hang her head on the wall.”
There was one particularly large fish they caught on Sunday that caused Chap and his son to study it very carefully to see if it needed stuffing so Bone Head could nail it on the wall of his bedroom. Interior Decorating, redneck style.
After much discussion, they decided that nah, they’d settle for stabbing its head on a fencepost up by the road, because that way, everyone could see and admire their prowess.
Go anywhere in a southern community within 50 miles of a body of water and you’re likely to see fish heads lined up along the fence–it’s like entering a village of head-hunting cannibals.
Having made up their minds not to stuff this particularly large fish, they commenced to skinning him.
“Hey!” I said. “He’s still alive!”
They stared at me like I was speaking tongues.
“Can’t you at least bonk him on the head before you start ripping his skin off?”
Chap shrugged. “He can’t feel it.”
I nodded, thinking about that.
They went on about their business, skinning live fish, at which point, I reached over and gave Chap a good, sharp pinch under his arm.
“Hey!” he said.
“Oh, I’m sorry,” I said. “Did you feel that?”