I spent much of the Eighties chasing, capturing, eating, domesticating, petting, and feeding animals. My grandparents’ grey tomcat, known only as Mister Cat, and my bulldog Sassy watched over me. My Uncle Harry had a parrot named Samson, and my Uncle Mike had a mynah bird named Coco. Samson only repeated “How’s it going?” and then bit me. Coco, short for Cocaine, was acquired in a drug deal, and his phrases were “Roll a joint!” in a high woman’s voice and “Co-co-co-cocaine” in a low baritone. Every Easter my grandparents bought about 200 chicks that we would chase and fondle, and I would cut their heads off, boil them, and pluck them in the fall. The seasons defined what I fished for—spring, crappie; summer, catfish; fall, stocked trout. I spent my winters alone in my room with my kingdom of animals I’d acquired that year, keeping them in cages and aquariums and imposing my own anthropomorphic moral code on them. If a crawdad, for instance, hurt another crawdad, I would boil it alive. If a snapping turtle crawled out of the aquarium, I would cut its head off.
Just added to The List and the Story: Against the Eighties