There just has to be something in wedding cake that installs what I refer to as a Mark 1 Instant Voice-Over Recorder Modulator Device into the groom. This is the skill men have to repeat the last bit of words their wives have been throwing at them, to ensure her he’s paying attention.
I have it down to an art form.
We were driving from New Mexico to see my parents in North Texas and she was happily chatting away as I drove through the canyons and gullies of the slightly hilly West Texas area.
“Are you listening to me?” she asked as I was, in my mind, in a left hand turn on the lonely road, half imagining I was coming out of turn 4 at Darlington Raceway, S.C.
The Mark 1 IVORMD kicked in automatically.
“Yes, dear,” said the IVORMD, while the rest of me was door to door with Bill Elliott heading toward the checkered flag. “You said, ‘my boss told me we should change the way we teach the effective leadership lesson block, but I said ‘no’ because our students would miss these principles of management.’”
“Okay,” she said satisfied.
The IVORMD switched off.
She began to chatter some more.
I crossed the finish line to a thousand flash bulbs just inches ahead of Awesome Bill from Dawsonville.
“And then,” she happily continued, “we got into this huge discussion about what Mark and Amy were doing this weekend and HOLY CRAP!”
A deer appeared out of nowhere in front of my headlights. He was running across the road to the small tree line on the other side. I cranked the wheel hard to the left and nearly missed him.
Unfortunately, the passenger side of the front bumper clipped him and he went tumbling in a ditch just below us.
Now, where I originally come from hitting a deer with a vehicle is fairly common. You can find a group of guys any day outside of deer season discussing the finer points of motoring over Bambi.
“Yeah, sumbitch cost my insurance company a new fender and some headlights, but I got a decent set of steaks and some jerky out of the whole deal.”
“That’s great, Leroy,” his friends would reply. “I always heard a Ford F-150 would drop a six-pointer just like a .270 Winchester would.”
Then someone would remark that of course that’s all Fords were good for and someone else would chime in that a deer probably would have caved in the engine block of a Chevrolet. The discussion would invariably shift to the finer points of trucks, the deer forgotten.
I turned hard back to the right and stopped.
The airbags didn’t deploy and the car was still running. I figured all in all, everything was fine.
I looked in the back seat and the kids were a little wide eyed but okay.
My wife was a different story. She was pale and her eyes were more dilated than an espresso addict’s.
It occurred to me right then that one did just not run over deer in her native Hartford, Connecticut, and this event was as alien to her as legislation banning handguns is to me.
The IVORMD went into auto-crisis management mode.
“We got into this huge discussion about what Mark and Amy were doing this weekend and HOLY CRAP!” I heard myself say, without really knowing why.
“Huh?” she asked, looking at me like I had a green speckled tongue or something.
“Nothing,” I said. “Are you okay?”
“I think so. Did we just hit a funny looking dog?”
This is not her fault. West Texas deer pale in size compared to deer in my beloved Eastern Tennessee and Western North Carolina. Sorry, Texas hunters, but you know I’m right.
“No, honey,” I said as soothingly as I could. “I think we hit a deer. Stay here and let me check out the car, okay?”
I got out and looked around. We’d lost the passenger side front headlight and there was an ugly dent with some hair and blood in that area as well. But the tire wasn’t damaged and nothing had hurt the engine, so I counted my blessings.
The wife and kids got out of the car at that point and looked at the dent. I suggested Sheila call my folks to let them know we’d be a little late as I anticipated driving slower through the hill country in the dark with just one headlight.
Then our oldest son piped up.
“Hey dad, I think I see an antler down there,” he said, pointing in the ditch below us.
Sure enough, there was one small two-pronged antler lying on the ground next to a blood trail.
Blood trail! Whoo-Hoo!! Despite my wife’s valiant attempt to culture me just a little bit and bring me on line with the modern world, my upbringing and hunter instincts kicked in.
“Come on, son; let’s find the deer daddy killed,” I said, scrambling down the hill to the ditch below.
It never occurred to me until later that after finding the blood trail, I shifted gears to “the deer daddy killed” from “the deer I hit with my wife’s car.”
The wife was having none of it.
“You two just wait a minute! What are you going to do with that … thing if you find it?”
I had an answer for that one. I was in full hunter/gatherer mode now.
“Well, I figure the boy and I will field dress it right here and then I’ll get it to my parent’s house. Dad and I can skin it tonight.”
“I don’t care what kind of dress you think it needs,” she said. “Not that I would let you put it in my car anyway, but where would you put it if you could?”
“I’m not putting a dress on it,” I said, attempting to assure her I had no intention of messing up her wardrobe. “Field dressing is where we cut its throat, let him bleed out and then gut it so the meat stays fresh. I’ll just toss the deer in the trunk.”
Folks, I’m here to tell you her jaw hit the ground so hard and so fast it left a pothole in that Texas state road.
“You’re not putting that carcass in the trunk of my car!” she exclaimed. “Our luggage is back there.”
“You’re right,” I conceded. “We’ll put the luggage in the tree line and Dad and I will come get it in the morning.”
Can I think of everything or what?
“I don’t think so,” she said. “Now, let’s get out of here before it gets much darker.”
About that time a very kind deputy sheriff from the small town we were about to drive through stopped and gave us the forms we needed to report the accident. It turns out; deer strikes in that part of the county are pretty common.
Sheila was still getting used to the idea we had struck an animal. She called my folks and told them we’d be late. I could tell by her voice she was pretty stressed.
So, I figured I’d help. After all, for her talking is sometimes its own form of therapy.
“Hey honey,” I began, “I thought you said once that cell phones wouldn’t work out here.”
She took a deep breath.
Here we go.
“Well,” she said, happy to have something to talk about. “There’s these things out here called towers, right? And I noticed one in that town behind the abandoned oil well and I hoped it worked and it did and everything but you see sometimes the signal bounces from place to place and so you’re roaming …”
Note: Insert about a 30-minute time lapse here. Thank you.
“… and then it’s okay to do the roaming thing, but it really depends on what kind of plan you have but we have one that isn’t very expensive that I found out about when I told the sales guy … Are you listening to me?”
“Yes, dear,” said the IVORMD. “You said ‘we have one that isn’t very expensive that I found out about when I told the sales guy …’”
“Okay,” she said, the stress coming down to a more manageable level. “So, I told him, ‘Look, it says here on this form this plan comes with …’”
She happily prattled on. I could tell she was feeling better.
I felt pretty good too.
I was daydreaming again and was on the high banks of Bristol, Tenn., battling my fierce rival Rusty Wallace who had knocked me into the wall earlier, damaging the front bumper of my race car. A quick pit stop revealed the tire wasn’t damaged and the engine was fine. I got back out to the track and was closing in on him with 10-laps to go.