Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Unspeakable Acts of Savagery and Enlightenment

If this morning you had told me that by the end of the day I would have beaten an owl to death with a hammer, I would not have believed you. Nobody ever wakes up and expects to beat an owl to death with a hammer that day.

There is something extremely surreal and almost unholy about beating an owl to death with a hammer. It's just not the sort of thing that happens very often and so we tend to be unprepared, almost to the point of mental instability, for the breadth and depth of emotion the act invokes.


Children sometimes ask: Why chickens? Why do we breed and eat chickens, instead of, say, owls?

Well, Latigo Flint knows why. It's 'cause us and owls are both top predators, and top predators tend to not eat each other very often--it's unnatural.

And that answer satisfies most children.

But some children, mostly the odd, quiet ones with unreadable eyes, refuse to let it go. They ponder for a moment and then point out that if we started up a bunch of owl farms worldwide, breeding and processing millions of owls a year--well, pretty soon they wouldn't really be considered a top predator anymore--they'd be little more than a yummy alternative to tuna, and eating them would start to feel pretty natural.

And it isn't always easy to quickly think of a verbal rebuttal to that sort of pure, unyielding logic. In fact, as far as Latigo Flint knows, there can be but one response: Climb a pine tree, drag down an owl, and force the child to watch as you beat that owl to death with a hammer--making the kid stare so close into those giant, unblinking eyes as they hemorrhage and cloud, that shards of bone and beak fly at her cheek, cutting so deep that they stain her tears.

Only then will the child understand that there are some things you just don't do; and eating owls is one of them. Why? Who knows. It might just be one of those things that can't be known--only felt.

(Of course, it might also be because owls taste like rusty mice and mildew... it's one or the other, or maybe a little of both.)


At 2:24 AM, Blogger Peter said...

Just imagine Latigo, the job at the head, as it were, of the production line where every time you were about to despatch an owl, it looked at you with those large unblinking eyes and being asked plaintively "Who Who"

At 4:50 AM, Blogger hen said...

They have to learn - they really really do. Kids these days? I don't know!

At 8:21 AM, Blogger Monkeypotpie said...

There's two owls I'd like to beat to death with a hammer:

1) Woodsy. I don't give a hoot and you can't make me!

2) Mr. Owl. Candy stealing strigidae bastard. He deserves to die.

At 8:30 AM, Blogger slarrow said...

On the contrary, I wake up every morning expecting to beat an owl to death with a hammer. (Well, more hoping than expecting, actually.)

I hate those things. They don't blink. Their heads can swivel all the way around. They can follow you with their eyes without ever seeming to move their heads.

Clearly they cannot be that spooky and be mortal. That's why we don't eat owls; humankind is not meant to feast upon devil flesh. Bad things happen. (That's what happened to that kid in The Exorcist: she ate an owl. Bet you didn't know that, did you?)

At 10:00 AM, Blogger Ari said...

If there's one thing to rue more than splattered owl, it's The Ghost of Splattered Owl.

At 12:54 PM, Blogger Teaspoon said...

This is right up there with trying ot kill baby dolphins, and shooting Aslan in the face. you seem to have some serious issues with the animal kingdom.

At 1:03 PM, Blogger Lightning Bug's Butt said...

I'm glad to read you came out on the winning end of that entanglement!

There's a blogger named Spirit of the Owl who's probably plotting revenge. But I'm sure it was worth it.


At 11:40 PM, Blogger Rasmus said...

Latigo, you did the right thing.

That kid was way out of line, and you provided a good example for dealing with brats like him.

Plus you taught everyone in that class three important lessons:
1: Don't eat owls.
2: Don't use logic.
3: Don't mess with Latigo Flint.

Their life will turn out much better, now they know these important facts.

At 1:50 PM, Blogger Amandarama said...

I'd have told the kid that we don't eat owls because otherwise the world would be over run with mice and other wood vermin. Nobody wants that, except the mice and wood vermin. And maybe cats. It'll give them lots to do.

At 11:26 PM, Blogger Latigo Flint said...

I tried to imagine it Peter, I swear I did, but I wept every time.

I don't know either Hen. I really and truly don't. Sometimes I think I do, but I'm wrong, 'cause I actually don't.

It changes you Monkeypotpie, the act of beating an owl to death with a hammer, and not for the better either. Everyone thinks it won't, but it always does.

I did not know that Slarrow. Explains an awful lot though. The rangers try to tell me that owls make that screeching sound to paralyze mice with fear. But it's a lurching demon song is what it is, and when they're ready, it'll be used on more than mice.

I rue it already Ari, I rue it already.

Hey TSP! I don't try to kill baby dolphins dagnabit! (Very often.)

Nothing is worth it LBB--and yet we follow breaths with breaths. Funny ain't it?

Exactly right Rasmus... well, except for number 2. Everybody knows Squinty-Eyed Gunslingers are always extremely logical. (And if anyone disagrees we shoot 'em.)

Amandarama, I don't trust cats and I don't like people telling me how they would have improved on my solution. You'd be shot and dead right now if I didn't like you so much.


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