Sunday, January 21, 2007

Friendship Includes What You Don't Talk About

My roommate for two years in college is without question, my best friend, the kind of person I know would do anything to help me, and I would do the same.

He is a Marine lives in Japan with his Navy Officer wife. She’s a doctor, he flies helicopters.

Right now the Corps is offering him various assignments. One involves living in a cave in Afghanistan with some other Marines. He thinks it sounds interesting.

I think he’s insane.

And that’s one of the more remarkable things about our friendship. We don’t really seem to have anything in common.

He’s a conservative from Ohio, I’m a northeast liberal elite.

Not only does he belong to the NRA, he worked for the group.

He’s also a hunter.

Now, I have nothing against hunting, and I believe it can serve a purpose. Just look at the overpopulation of deer in city parks, scrawny nasty looking deer, and I don’t think it’s a reach to agree that culling the herd is ironically humane. I also can’t really argue with people who hunt to eat.

I eat meat, I know someone has to kill it.

I, however, havc no interest in being the one doing the killing.

One fine fall day about 15 years ago, my roommate and I were taking a hike through the woods on his parents property in Ohio. They own a ton of land. 100… 200 acres, I don’t know, just lots and lots of land.

As the sun was going down, we began to head back to the homestead and we heard something move in the brush next to us.

It was Bambi.

A cute looking little deer was standing right there, feet away from us.

Awww… how sweet.

Until we realized it wasn’t running anywhere. It just stood there staring at us. So we looked a little closer and saw that it’s back leg was caught in an old barbed wire fence. It was badly broken and there was no way of freeing the animal.

After much angst we agreed there was only one thing to do. So roommate went off to the house to get a gun. I stood by Bambi, trying not to become emotionally attached.

By the time the Great White Hunter returned, the little deer and I had become close friends. She wanted to leave the forest and live with me, become a domesticated deer, fetch my paper in the morning, guard against intruders, curl up in front of my fireplace at night.

I hadn’t had the heart to tell her that she was going to become venison.

When my roommate returned with a big rifle, he asked if I wanted to do the shooting.

Not only did I defer, I covered my eyes like a little girl while he did the dirty work. He accomplished the job with one shot. Not too hard since we were standing just feet away. He later confessed that it was a good thing Bambi didn’t flinch, because in his haste, while he had brought the right gun, he only had one bullet. To this day he’s not sure how that happened.

It turns out that not only was I a sissy when it came to shooting the adorable little animal, I also had a major pansy attack when it came to carrying the thing back to the farm.

So the roommate hauled the deer up over his shoulders and carried it the half mile himself.

I followed, grossed out but also a quite embarrassed by my sudden lack of manliness.

To his credit, when we talk about the incident, he always leaves out my wimpish behavior. He does laugh at himself for only carrying one bullet. That was a silly mistake on his part. Mine was a deep personal reaction, the sort of thing he knows isn’t something you make fun of, or ever bring up again.

That’s the kind of friend he is.

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