By David Sherman
I met a deer. A dear four-legged deer. We chatted, though I did most of the talking. He or she – we didn’t get to the salient details – was a good listener. We shared a carrot or two and I climbed into my car. He or she climbed up into the forest behind the house and disappeared.
I’ve known a few dears in my life but never a deer. I’ve seen them trot by the house on their way to the woods. I’ve stopped the car to let them cross the highway and I’ve too often seen what happens when others can’t stop their cars when the deer try and get across the highway.
Deer have been here for a few thousand years. The highway less than 50. The same with our house. We live in comfort in exurbia where I used to hike and ski less than 50 years ago. We planted roots in deer land and giving out a few kilo of carrots seems to be the least I can do for playing a part in depriving them of places to gambol, gamble, mate and munch and whatever else deer do to pass the time.
Deer, some say, are a problem. On NPR out of Vermont. wags want to encourage hunters to kill more so they won’t have their tulips and lettuce chewed. I say, give the deer guns and make it a fair fight. They were here first.
I’d like to get to know the deer better after our first date. It’s too young to take for a drink, if one was to frequent bars during this era, and I have no idea what kind of films it might enjoy. More importantly, would I have to pay for two or more seats for him at $13 per and would it resign itself to wearing a mask to watch Dwayne the Rock blow up shit and kill people. I also shudder at the $287 popcorn bill.
As deer go, he or she is small but has learned manners well. It chews each mouthful of carrot a good 30 times, doesn’t speak while eating and, though his ears swivel continually, it gave me its full attention.
I had a cat that was my best friend for about 15 years. What can I tell you? Four-legged creatures often make more sense than two-legged ones. He was a Maine Coon I called Charlie. I don’t know what he called me – probably Food, – and he would meet me on the street when I came home from work – he knew the car – go for walks, come to the corner café and sit with me on the terrasse or visit the souvlaki joint with me and sleep under the table until the last of the tzatziki was soaked up.
He also liked walking to the video store where he’d come in and prowl the aisles, avoiding the porn section. But he had lousy taste in films so I chose. Besides, when he jumped on the sofa to watch the movie beside me, he’d inevitably fall asleep, so it was only right that I chose the evening entertainment. Like a true Canadian, he did like to watch hockey, which probably looked to him like mice zooing back and forth across the screen. Sometimes, it looked that way to me, too
Charlie, like my new friend the deer, was an all-weather cat and we walked nightly through the deep snow in Montreal’s back alleys, though he’d often disappear into my footprints as he followed. He’d pull himself out of each boot hole I left only to disappear into the next one, kind've like mogul skiing without the skis. He also would disappear under balconies to do what he had to do but not before screaming at me to wait.
My new friend the deer, as yet unnamed, will probably not like car rides as Charlie did, sitting on the back window ledge, especially since it can’t fit in the car. And he won’t lie on my shoulders and wrap himself around my neck like a scarf, for which I am thankful.
On the plus side, I won’t have to clean his litter or fight to keep him out of our bed. I hope. And, unlike cat hair, I’m not allergic to deer skin. Don’t tell my him or her, but I once had a deer skin jacket made from one of its ancestors. I won’t do it again. I promise.
Of course, we’re still in the honeymoon phase of our relationship and he might have an eye for another. Or maybe he’ll come knocking when the winter approaches and ask to come in or wonder if I have two coats or a couple of pairs of boots to spare.
Maybe it’ll let me get closer than five metres, as long as I keep carrying the carrots.
Either way, I don’t have to worry about social distancing and he or she is the only friend I can talk to without wearing a mask.