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Monday, September 13, 2004


Anyone who has read any of James Fenimore Cooper’s classic Leatherstocking Tales about Natty Bumppo’s exploits will be familiar with the nickname; ‘Deerslayer’. I’ve always loved these classic 19th century wilderness adventure stories, and I especially liked the idea of Natty receiving a meaningful sobriquet from the Indian tribe that had adopted him.

The Native American tradition of awarding a name to mark a memorable event, or a distinctive character trait, seems very wise… and I have carried on this tradition in naming many of my family’s cars.

For instance, years ago I gave my mother’s trusty Volvo station wagon the name ‘Deerslayer’ because of the alarming frequency with which it seemed to hit these docile, four-legged road obstacles. The irony lay in the fact that my mom is a huge animal lover (please G-d, don’t let her ever have to chose between her dogs and any of her children!), and each one of these vehicular slaughters shook her to the very essence of her being.

On the memorable occasion that precipitated the name being given, she walked into our home, aghast at having ‘offed’ yet another defenseless deer. When she came into where we were all seated (barely keeping her composure), she glanced at the TV and saw that the kids were watching Bambi, and completely dissolved into tears. From that day on, her car was known (at least by me) as ‘Deerslayer’.

With that in mind, I’ve decided that my own car has earned a tribal name of its own: ‘Birdslayer’. I chose this name because I think my car has developed an unhealthy appetite for our fine feathered friends.

At least once a week I have the disquieting experience of having a bird fly directly into my windshield with a sickening thud. I then watch my rear-view mirror in horrified fascination as the avian remains execute a slowly rotating arc and come to rest amidst a cloud of feathers in the roadway.

Unlike the countless animals I see (and usually avoid hitting) during my daily commute… the birds fly out of nowhere, and are impossible to evade. On one memorable occasion, I watched in revulsion as the airborne carcass of a bird I had just hit slammed into the windshield of the car directly behind me. The second impact looked as though somebody had placed a hand grenade inside a feather pillow!

So...Birdslayer it shall be called.

Just as a reference…y’know, in case anyone is curious as to what this aweful event actually sounds like… click on this link to an advert for a Ford sport coupe that is eerily accurate!

Posted by David Bogner on September 13, 2004 | Permalink


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David's uncharaceristic vagueness in this piece might suggest many, even scores, of slaughtered Bambi's in the course of his mother's driving career. Allow me, from my passenger seat vantage point on each occasion, point out that there were only two (2). The first of this pair, in fact, bounced off the right front fender of our Volvo wagon, was airborne over the hood and into the bushes on the left, and scrambled quickly away --suggesting that it was at least ambulatory. The second deer, struck by our antiique VW covertible, was not so lucky; a policeman came quickly to the scene, where the poor animal lay in the middle of the dark street, occasionally struggling to get up. The officer humanely dispatched it with a bolt pistol. Both events occurred within a two-year period in the late '90's, and did, indeed, leave my wife very apprehensive about driving at night. Neither of us was aware of David's ominous nickname for the car. I mean, "Deerslayer" is a bit much! As for any doubts about his mother's choosing between a dog and our children, David might consider carefully that another blog or two of this ilk just might make the choice much easier!
In defense of David's ugly habbit of killing birds, however, i should point out ther apparent defficiencies of perception or intellect in some of them. During the colder part of the year when our two well-stocked bird feeders attract hundreds of birds during a typical day, some of hem (sparrows, I think) regularly fly directly into our casement windows, I think seeing the reflection of the sky there and heedlessly flying swifly into it. In several years of this, one has died and dozens have been stunned briefly and up to a minute. Considering tis, perhaps Israeli birds are no brighter than American, making them victims of almost anything. Thus, it might not be entirely David's fault...., although, "Birdslayer" does have a good ring to it!

Posted by: Delmar Bogner | Sep 13, 2004 11:31:10 PM

OK Dad... In your position I'd have to take my wife's side too... ;-)

Posted by: David | Sep 14, 2004 8:21:10 AM

Okayyyyy -- this is proverbal reality: "the apple never falls far" [or something like this]. Bestest comment thread of the day!

Posted by: mademoiselle a. | Sep 14, 2004 10:37:08 AM

Once upon a time - in 1999, to be precise - I was driving cross-county with my parents when a suicidal bird flew into the front of our mini-van. I wondered what about that poor bird's life was so horrible that it would feel compelled to fling itself at a fast moving vehicle, but an even more compelling question was, "Is there a certain amount of irony at a van containing an ethical vegan (me, at the time) being the instrument of death for a bird?"

'Tis a question for the ages. Or at least for a few minutes.

(BTW, I totally agree with mademoiselle a. - trees and apples indeed!)

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