Talking to a colleague/one of a couple of bosses I have at MatadorNetwork last night as he was in Santiago, getting ready with his family to set up shop someplace entirely different, I was reminded of a million and one stories that I hope I never run out of time to tell. In the interest of time, I've clumped three together in a collection I like to call: Animals will take your food, and you will let them, unless you are an idiot.
I can recall three times in my life that animals have seized my food, either while I was eating it, or before I could get to it. This if we're not including the occasional mouse that may have inhabited my old house in DC or the legions of ants that attacked the trail mix in Cuba (how did they get in through the plastic bag?) I'm also exempting the weird grain moths (or weevils, like I liked to call them) that took up residence in the pantry one year, living on the bulgur, quinoa, brown rice and any other carbs they could get their six legs on, taunting me with their beating little wings until I smashed them with a swiffer (with which I always used reusable covers, because hey, I'm green when I want to be), moth massacre aside.
Three times, food has been swiped from me. We were careful in Yosemite, leaving food wrapped, in a cooler, in the car. Didn't want any bears paying us a surprise hello. But how can you be careful of stray dogs, seagulls, and those giant-four legged scavengers, the wild ponies of Assateague?
The dog story is good one. I like to call it "insult to injury." A college friend of mine and I were in a bus station in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, waiting for an ill-thought-out overnight bus to Oaxaca. Somewhere along the way, her small on-the-bus bag got stolen, this after she'd pulled out a loaf of bread and her journal so she could write down what she was feeling. Which afterwards was probably long columns of stars and arrobas (at signs) and exclamation points because damn, her stuff got stolen. Later on that evening, as we were making phone calls (or trying to) to cancel credit cards and decide what else to do, we had our stuff resting on the ground by the broken payphone (which, by the way, did not respond to kicking). And up came a mongrel cur, opened his maw, swiped the bread and scooted down the street. Not willing to be victimized once again, I started running after the dog, as though I was going to take the bread back from him if I managed to catch him. I eventually realized my folly and went to lick my wounds with the aforementioned friend. Later we got to give a police report to a shirtless police officer who was haciendose cariño (petting himself) with the side of his sidearm. Spiffy! Also hairless, if you were wondering.
The second food-theft story involves sitting on the beach in North Carolina with some of my ex's friends. I was vegan at that time, an animal lover in the extreme (later mothkilling be darned), and as everyone else nibbled daintily on their cheese sandwiches, I had a hummus sandwich in hand. I remember I was sitting on the beach, knees bent, with the sandwich in my left hand, elbow flexed, resting upon my knee, the universal sign (apparently) for "I am no longer eating this sandwich, please come and thieve it from me). I remember the feeling of my sandwich suddently becoming bouyant, floaty, upward-pulling even. And I did battle with the seagull there for just a minute before I realized that much like the bread I'd have wrested from the dog's jaws, there was no way I was going to eat this hummus sandwich after it had been in a seagull's beak.
Which brings us to the third, and most mane-flowingly tender story. I was sitting outside at a campsite in Assateague, Maryland (close to neighboring Chincoteague, Virginia where the locals hold an annual pony swim to raise money, and yes there are ponies on Assateague as well, because sometimes the ponies swim just on their own, apparently), when I heard a kid at a nearby campsite say to his mother, "Mom, there's a horse. There's a horse, right here." The wild ponies stand in the surf, walk around on the roads, and pretty much do whatever they like in this area, looking much like the Icelandic horses/ponies (difference? I'm a wordsmith, not an equestrian expert) with their broad hooves and thick manes. The wild ponies at the beach are an attraction on both Assateague and Chincoteague, sometimes causing traffic backups and being generally darn cute. They also have long flexible pink tongues which they will daintily use to slurp up your cereal and soymilk out of your dented tin bowl while you step back to feel around for your camera to get a picture of the horses that are "right there."
Up until now, I have not had any more animal food thievery, or at least none that I know of. I used to have a cat who really liked watermelon and honeydew, and would stand on his hind legs like a cat posessed, for a piece of potato, which has nothing to do with anything, but man was that ever cute.
Foodtheft? Just me? Not you? Oh come on, tell the story of when an animal took something from you. Hopefully not a chunk of your shoe like a stray dog tried to from me in Santiago not too long ago. Glasses? Camera? Icecream? oh come on, I can't be the only one!