Over the years my Father has been a source of amusement for our family. He labels EVERYTHING to the point of insanity and his clothing is organized and meticulously kept - to the point where if you were to so much as move a sock he knows. But the amusement I write about today (as you may have surmised from the title) revolves around his relationship with animals - the big and the small.
Ever since I was a little girl, I've had this love of animals and an uncanny ability to make friends with the wild and the misunderstood. I have even been known to have a wild robin land on my hand ala Snowhite. I have conversed with wild deer and helped an injured crow. I have nursed motherless squirrels and raised feral cats. I have befriended old circus ponies and rescued butterflies. My father, however, has had... well a slightly different relationship with the wild.
Any dog - ANY DOG - will run up to my father (who eagerly awaits them - "well hello there little fella") and they will look lovingly at him before they lift their leg and pee on him. This has really and truly happened. And happened often. I recall a cat that used to come to our house that was one of those overly friendly little cats with a slight nervous disposition that doesn't seem to have a home. At first my father ignored him - since he figured if he was nice to him I'd decide he was our new pet but, after a while my father started to pet him and play with him. Then one day decided to correct him for playing a little to roughly - "No. You stop that little kitty. Right now!" Followed by the lightest of taps on the nose. The cat suddenly turned from cute kitten with great big eyes - to a fire breathing hellion that attempted to ingest my father's arm. He got such a bad infection that it almost killed him. Once - in a flash of brilliance - my father decided to befriend some elk. "They look friendly, wonder how close I can get..." I remember my mother's words fading into the background as the sound of charging hooves took over.... "...probably not such a good idea - isn't this their rutting season?" And then there was the time he decided to "gobble" at the turkeys. It sent them into attack mode instantaneously. I don't know what my father said in turkey - but whatever it was it pissed them off.
The funniest story, I have saved for last. It not only demonstrates my father's OCD tendencies, it also is a fantastic example of his twisted relationship with nature. My parents were in Hawaii. They were feeding the fish. The fish get very excited while they are being fed and they literally surround you. Well, as it happened, my father felt the need to urinate. Being in the ocean he managed to convince himself it would be alright to live on the edge and pee where he was. Most of us have done the same, right? However, being my fastidious father, he could certainly not accomplish this task in his bathing suit. So, he removed himself from his bathing suit. (who does that?) Anyways - remember the fish? YOU GUESSED IT. Chomp. My mother claims that the yelling and screaming could be heard for miles. I imagine the laughter could too - knowing my mother. He made my mother promise not to tell anyone but that night, at a company dinner (it was a conference) she got a little tipsy and started to laugh every time she thought about it. Eventually everyone in the room knew about it. If only you knew my father - he sat there with this very serious face all the while the entire room fell to the floor laughing over this entire scenario. Poor dad. "Sorry Charlie, only the best tuna get to be starkist".