Monday, July 5, 2010

The Pact

I have made a pact with a friend of mine. The terms are simple: if we both survive to retirement, we will hunt Cape Buffalo in Africa. Sound like a dumb idea? Stop reading.

Still here? Good. Look, man, you only get one lap in life. Yes, I know the poor African buffalo just wants to chew plants, gore anyone who pisses him off, and meet big-horned ladies, but the world is changing. There will come a day when there is no more hunting. Anywhere. "Meat" will be but one flavor of soy product you buy at the grocery store.

I object to this future, so I will follow in the footsteps of Teddy Roosevelt and Ernest Hemingway while their tracks are still visible. I will go on safari, shoulder a rifle with a caliber close to my age, and hunt the buffalo, one of the most dangerous game animals in the world. I've chosen this beast for that very reason: he has a sporting chance of getting to me and grinding me into the African earth for only wounding him. But if I place my shot correctly, the indiginous people keep the meat, the local government the hefty trophy fees (which pay for game wardens), and I return with a wicked-looking horn boss.

More importantly, I shall return with memories: the burning sun above the red African earth, a glass of whiskey outside a tent in one of the last wild places, the stretched moment as the rifle's trigger is pulled. This, you see, is living. It has nothing to do with a flat screen or a hybrid vehicle. Living only exists when dying is close at hand. And dying is not kept at bay by assuming the fetal position, it is warded off by a raised fist. This is why parenthood tends to improve people: they spend much of their day keeping Death away from their little ones, who are constantly running into the street, poking electrical outlets with forks, and attempting to guzzle household chemicals.

A century or so from now--hopefully--one of my young descendants will come across a memory chip thingy containing an image of me beside an enormous Cape Buffalo who has just met his demise.

"Did Great Grandpa really go hunting in Africa?" little Peaceflower will ask his mother. "Yes, dear," his mother will reply. "Great Grandpa was a little bit crazy: he had tattoos, dogs, and drank liquor. He also made pacts, and kept them."

1 comment:

Kristin said...

Yes, Grandpa was indeed quite a nut.