When I lived in Madison, back so many years ago, my roommate Becky and I would try to come back to Minnesota as often as possible. It wasn’t that we didn’t make friends in Madison or enjoy some of the time there, it was just that after awhile, after so many things went bad (not a lot of money, roommates bailing on us, etc), we would flee back to our familiar friends and familiar hang-outs and just relax for that brief amount of time.

This was back in the early 90’s when I was in my late 20’s and went to the bar every night and drank like a fish and would sleep with strange men when I was drunk or stoned (every Queen has her sordid past) and pretty much thought that I would be young and thin(ner) forever so it didn’t matter what I abused my body with. Sometimes I wish I could go back in time and steal the body I used to have. I was cute, dammit.

Anyway, back to the story at hand. I have a slight problem. I fall asleep very easily when I’m in a car. Beth and Keem will vouch for this. There are pictures of me in a backseat, my head tilted back, snoring, in at least two scrapbooks. This drives people crazy, especially if they are tired themselves. And they all have their own way of dealing with the situation. Becky would roll down the window in the middle of winter (Brr). Beth will slam on the brakes (I should mention that this is done only if there is no one traveling too close behind us).

But of these three, Keem is the evilest of all. Keem has the elbow. Imagine, if you will, that you are joyfully snoozing. You are upright so there is none of the pain that comes when you try to sleep on your bed (bad back, knots in my shoulders so it hurts to sleep on either my right or left shoulder (yes, I know I should go to the doctor but I am resisting. I could spend that $30 co-pay on so much more fun things)), perhaps you are dreaming of something sweet and romantic and then BAM! The elbow strikes. Right in your left arm which hurts because of the whole shoulder thing. Which is just horribly wrong.

You may counter with “Well, what the heck are you do falling asleep?” To which I will say, “Why are you always taking Keem’s side?” And then we’ll have this huge fight and it will be very sad and I will cry. Then I’d have to give back the Friends Forever bracelet and vow to never talk to you again. We don’t want that, do we? Don’t make me cry, Internet.

But I digress (yeah and you’re really shocked by that, aren’t you?). So the particular weekend of this story, Becky and I were headed back to Madison. It was late and there weren’t a lot of cars on the road. Since it was dark and the heat was on (this was in November, I think), I started falling asleep. If it had been daytime, I may have been able to stay awake, since I would have been looking for landmarks, such as the dancing trees. The dancing trees were what I named these two trees on a bluff on the side of the road. The way the branches of one tree had grown toward the other made me think of a couple that were dancing together. I found it highly romantic and it amused me. Those of you who know me IRL will not be surprised by that. Those of you who don’t know me IRL are missing a lot. Think of the excitement of driving around with someone who will, at random times, yell out such fascinating facts as SQUIRREL! Or BALLOON! And then I will clap and giggle. Because I am five.

Boy, I sure get distracted easily. Okay, it was dark, the heat was on, I was falling asleep. All the elements of an exciting story. What could be happening up ahead? What awaits our heroine, Becky, as she drives through the night? There are barely any cars around. It’s the perfect opportunity for something horrible to happen. Ooh. What could it be? Is it a chainsaw carrying psycho pacing down the highway? An axe murderer cavorting in the woods? Vicious vampires vanquishing villains (I really like alliteration so I apologize right now for this)?

No. No, it’s none of these things.

I, deep in my sleep, hear something disturbing. It is Becky screaming my name. I open my eyes slowly and what I see in front of me is darkness.

Dark night, dark road, dark lump in the middle of the road.

I have enough time to think “Huh?” I don’t even get to finish with “Why is there a garbage bag in the middle of the road?” The next thing I know, we’ve driven over the garbage bag with a thump.

The car is swerving back and forth, I see a van over to the right to us as we go by. Becky is cursing as she tries to bring the car back into control.

I turn to her. “Why did those people leave a garbage bag in the middle of the road?”

“They didn’t. That was a deer.”

“A deer?” I am horrified. “We ran over a deer? Did we kill it?”

“I am assuming it was already dead because it was hit by that van.”

“Oh. Yuck.”

We drive in silence for a little while. Becky is concerned with the way that the car is responding and decides to pull over and check underneath the car. I stay within the confines of the car and watch her do this. She walks forward, facing me, and slowly leans to look underneath. Suddenly she jumps back, her eyes wide. She runs back to the car and jumps in.

“Oh, my God, oh, my God, oh, my God,” she keeps saying.

“What? What? What is it?”

“I saw eyes.”
Apparently when we ran over the deer, we took a piece of it with us. Becky wants me to look under the car to confirm her sighting. I am quite reluctant to do this but eventually I do get out of the car and look underneath it. And there I see eyes glittering at me. I hurry back to the car and stare at Becky. What are we going to do?

Well, neither of us are willing to crawl under the car and release the head, there are no large sticks to poke at it, so we do the next best thing. We drive along the shoulder, half on the shoulder, half on the dirt on the side of the road, scraping the bottom of the car, hoping to shake off our unwanted passenger.

After a few minutes of this, we think that everything is okay. Time to keep driving. The car seems to be handling a bit better so everything is fine. Everything is just wonderful. It was just a bad experience and it is all over. Right?

Wrong. Suddenly all we can smell is burning flesh and hair. This is the worst thing I have ever smelled in my life. It is worse than mold (I’m allergic), paint (I break into hives), and is probably tied with Chlorox and Lime Away mixed together (I had an employee try to kill me once). It is awful, horrible and made our eyes water with the acrid smell.

No longer able to handle the smell or the imminent feeling that we were going to throw up any minute, we pulled into a gas station. We both breathed a sigh of relief when we saw that the lone clerk working there was a man (well, male. He was probably 17 or 18. And pimply. And his voice cracked when he said hello to us (Becky usually had that effect on men)). I believe that women are capable of doing anything they want to do. I believe we should be paid the same as men when performing the same job. I believe that a woman does not need a man to be happy (well, now, I do. 7 years of celibacy will do that to you). What I do not believe is that this particular woman, myself, should have to deal with messy, disgusting, yucky things. Deer heads come into that category.

After the argument about who was going to talk to him (I lost), I approached him and put on my most winning smile. “Hi,” I said casually. “We were wondering if you could help us. We sort of ran over a deer and think the deer head is stuck under the car and we were hoping you might have a broom or something that we can poke underneath the car.”

He stares at us blankly. “Huh?”

I start into my spiel again. As I’m explaining this to him, we see a semi pull up to the gas pumps in the diesel section. A truck driver walks in or I should say swaggers in. He heads over to the coffee pot. As I’m going through my explanation a second time, I notice that the truck driver is listening. The pimply boy (compared to the truck driver, a real MAN (rugged and bearded and wearing flannel (and I’m not sure why this is kind of a turn on since I’m usually attracted to smooth shaven men in fitted suits)) stammers a refusal, there’s no way that he’s going to help us.

The trucker saunters over. “Ran over a deer, did ya?” We nod. He gives that half smile that real manly men give when they see women in distress. He looks at the boy and gives a disdainful sniff, indicating without words that he is completely worthless as a man.

Author’s Note: I know this is wrong. I know that the fact that he had the attitude that we were helpless women completely incapable of taking care of ourselves was sexist and wrong on so many levels and he should have been strung up by his toes. Or even better, I should be strung up by my toes for sighing slightly over his aggressively masculine demeanor. But there are some things that I will just not handle and if that means I have to pretend to be weak and ineffectual and flutter my eyes and say “Oh, you’re such a big strong man,” I’ll do it. I don’t do blood, I don’t do vomit (except for Eddy’s and that’s only because Keem makes me because he’s supposedly my cat (even though he loves only her and she’s the one that insists on feeding him wet cat food)) and I don’t do deer parts (Lioness, I know you’re just shaking your head over this and I apologize but I have always been a little in awe of you, especially when you start talking about cadavers and stuff).
The trucker leans under the car, fiddles around for a little bit and then backs up, carrying something with him. Becky and I exchange a wordless “Oooh” of dismay (Oooh technically isn’t a word). The trucker brandishes the deer leg at us and says “Got caught in the wheel well (or something like that. I don’t know. Do I drive? No). You should be fine now.” He tosses the leg onto the ground and wanders off into the night, off to show how macho he is to other women.

At the time of this experience, I had a list of what men were good for (I don’t have this list anymore because it is wrong to think this way and I should not bash men because most of my friends are men and I adore them). This was my list:

1. Dealing with icky things (bugs, blood, deer parts, you name it).
2. Lifting/Carrying/Opening Jars
3. Sex
4. Hmm, I keep forgetting what that 4th thing is

This would usually get a laugh but it is terrible and wrong and oh so not politically correct. Bad Dana! Bad! That why I don’t have the list anymore. Especially since number 3 is no longer being fulfilled. Damn men.

The clerk looks at the deer leg. He looks at us. He starts to say “You’re going to have to…” We are in the car and on our way out of the parking lot before he finishes his sentence. No way in hell are we touching that thing.

The car smelt of burnt deer hair and fat for about a month. It was awful.

I sometimes wonder what happened when the store manager came in the next day and saw a deer leg lying on the ground. Sometimes I think about the deer and hope that she is in Deer Heaven, with all of her legs, running around, frolicking. There’s a Deer Heaven, right?

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