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One of my favorite daydreams involves getting attacked by a cougar – it’s pieced together from cougar attack stories I read once in a book I found in a gas station on an Indian reservation, called True Cougar Attacks or something, which stated in the introduction that cougars rarely attack people, but when they do, it’s usually petite female joggers. I find the daydream really calming and satisfying for some reason.
In the daydream, I’m jogging along the Clark Fork river in Montana when I hear this clicking sound behind me. It’s strange enough that I stop running to check if there’s anyone behind me – but each time I turn around there’s nothing but the still grass and still trees and the slow-flowing river. Even though I don’t see anything, though, both my above-average perception that something’s amiss coupled with my almost-animal-like connection with Nature alert me to an unseen predator.
I jog on, a bit faster. This time when I hear the clicking, I whip around and see the cougar behind me – the clicking is the sound of his claws on the rocky beaten path. The beast – 110 pounds of muscle and sinew – springs at me through the air, and the moment lasts forever. NO – rather, the moment is timeless, something that is always happening somewhere and something that has happened for thousands of years past and that will happen for thousands of years in the future: the predator and its prey. Survival. The freaking circle of freaking life.
The cougar easily knocks me off my feet and – as they often did in the stories from the gas station Indian reservation true stories of cougar attacks book – bites down on the back of my head with its deadly fang-filled jaw. Like one woman in the book, I actually hear things in my head crushing and crunching.
But, on another, deeper level, everything is quiet. I hear a magpie in a nearby fir, rustling its feathery wings. I look down the sloping path to the river and see a pair of salmon silently slide by, perfectly in tandem with a gliding cloud reflected in the water’s surface. I see a caterpillar on the tip of a blade of grass, blindly reaching for the sky. I see a heavy branch a foot away, bleached and cracked, seemingly waiting.
I even see the beauty in the cougar – she smells of musk and earth and heat. She is beautiful! I am not terrified, even as my ear drum explodes and even as I feel her needle claws taking hold of my soft middle. Mostly, though, I am excited to test my physical and mental prowess out in the real world – away from artificiality of human civilization.
I proceed to reach up to the cougar’s face and gouge out her eyes. It’s enough for her to release my head and give me a chance to pick up the heavy branch that I had meditated on a moment before. I beat the cougar to death, and then rest curled next to her still-warm body. Perhaps – and this is only when I really milk the daydream – I can feel a bit of the cougar sprit enter my own as it leaves the shell of her former body.
Oh – and then I drag the cougar’s corpse into town. I’m all covered in crackled dried blood and missing an ear, maybe. Everyone is shocked, both at what they see and how at peace I am.
At the ensuing press conference, which takes place from my hospital bed, I try to explain my deep connection to Mother Nature to the reporters, though no one seems to understand, what with their fancy automobiles and frozen dinner lives. I try to explain that the animal was not evil, but merely driven mad by the growing human presence in her natural habitat. Much like the coach of a winning Superbowl team, I am very respectful toward the loser and her efforts.
“She was a beautiful creature,” I’d say, “Tough and wild and free like no other thing I have ever encountered. It killed me to gouge out her eyes, beat her to death, and drag her into town, but she and I both understood it had to happen. She and I both understood the importance of survival. I have kept her glorious pelt and will wear it always.”
Of course, in another manifestation of this daydream, I just turn to the closest news camera, my head stitched from my chin to my forehead, and say, “Fuck cougars.”
I suppose I should be having daydreams about helping people or being president or something. But I don’t know. I’m pretty happy with this one.