Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Pick Your Poison

   I have a vague memory of being loaded into the ambulance, my mother, frantic (perhaps that's too strong a term – mildly unnerved, maybe), climbing in behind.
   I'd been poisoned. And fearing for my life, Mom called the squad to whisk me away to the emergency room.
   Poisoned? You ask. My goodness. You say.
   My mother told the story this way...I had licked an anteater behind the couch.
   I cannot begin to convey the monumental amount of puzzlement this information generated in my tiny brain – for many years.
   Why did we own an anteater? What was his name? Why did we keep him behind the couch? How come I'd never noticed him there before?
   Confident in my mother's description, I tried to picture the scene, to remember this intimate encounter. It seemed like something I wouldn't forget.
   But the effort to remember only provoked more questions. What part of the anteater did I lick? Was it his snout? Was it his rear? If I had licked somewhere else would there have been a less toxic outcome?
   Knowing anteaters have enormous tongues, I was also compelled to wonder, did he lick me back? Perhaps he, in fact, licked first, causing me to politely return the favor. Maybe we were just comparing our tongue sizes – an innocent case of I'll show you mine if you show me yours.
   I tried in vain to decipher the mystery and was quite a bit older by the time I asked my mother to explain it again because I couldn't figure it out.
   I'm sure, dear reader, it doesn't take a terro card to clearly see the truth of this story. No need for clairvoyance. My mother had been willfully imprecise with the use of the term anteater, but I'm forever grateful for it. For as a story teller, when presented with a chance to make a mountain out of an ant hill, you have to get in your best licks.

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