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June 14, 2003
A few days before the SARS outbreak, I boarded a plane bound for Toronto. One week before I left for Toronto, I read an issue of Upright Pet magazine and, from the back page advertisements, ordered a prairie dog.
The prairie dog was delivered to my house by UPS in a miniature Conestoga wagon carrying case. With raging fever and hacking cough, I opened the carrier and out leapt my very own and very angry prairie dog. I never realized how hard they could bite until it clamped down on my brow with razor-sharp teeth. The brown-clad delivery man kept a straight face while insisting I sign for the package. By then, the package had my nose in its mouth and my ears in its paws. Said the UPS man, "That's fine, sir. An 'X' will suffice. Your X-mark in blood? Not a problem."
The CDC in Atlanta has me on hold. Until I called, the hotline operator hadn't counseled a victim of both SARS and monkeypox. While the operator checked with her superior, I endured the CDC's on-hold music selection which, unfortunately, included the late Richard Harris singing MacArthur Park. I hacked into the receiver and stole a glance at my reflection in the hall mirror. Pale and pocky, I looked like a cross between James Woods and Ray Liotta, if either or both had a prairie dog humping his leg.
I'll never have that recipe again.
© 2003 by the beastmaster