Small Town Survival Guide: “The dead things that haunt you.”

American Gothic painting

Deedle-loo-doo-dee-doo-dee-doo-doo. Not a true depiction of most small town people.

Small town people like dead stuff.

This seems to hold true, whether it’s a coastal town, mining/logging town or farming area. Dead stuff, specifically dead animals, are a big deal.

And if you’re from either suburbia or an urban area this simple fact can be quite traumatizing.

Like taking a walk through a small town parking lot during deer hunting season.

If you’re really lucky, the child you are with will look up at you with those big disgustingly wide “Oh-look-at-me-I’m-so-adorable-because-I-haven’t-hit-puberty-and-become-all-gangly-yet” eyes.

They will ask:
“Mommy, why is Bambi asleep in the back of that truck?”
“He’s just going for a ride honey, and is tied down for safety. Like how we wear a seat belt.”

PIcture of adult bambi making lovey eyes at adult doe.

Awwwwww…. how romantic. Now take aim and fire.

There is also the option of just telling the kid “Bambi is dead. Like most of your dreams in life will be at some point.” But apparently that’s frowned upon and seen as “bad parenting.” And for some reason, if you tell a stranger’s kid something like that, you get into even more trouble.

Then there’s the fishermen who filet a fish with such finesse and toss the guts out to sea to be ripped apart by the gulls. Not exactly for the faint of stomach – but also quite a morbidly artistic thing to see.

Well known fact: the cuter the cow, the more delicious it tastes.

My personal favourite is introducing city slickers to the farm.

“Awww cute … what do you call her?”
“That one? Dinner.”

Even as a vegetarian for seven years, I began to delight in death and all its neat bits and pieces.

I found myself saying sentences like: “So I was out covering the opening of the new abattoir today for the newspaper. This is a picture of where they stun the cow. Here’s where the cow tumbles down. That’s where the blood goes, then they hook the cow up here, and this mechanism rips the skin right off… Hey! Why do you look pale and like you’re ready to throw up?”

roadkill cafe menu

The sad thing is, I’ve used this image before on this blog.

Road kill is also kind of a “big deal” in smaller towns. The dead that line the side of the roads aren’t just fluffy bunnies, cats or dogs. We have larger targets: deer, moose, bears, elk.

It becomes a sport.

Well Mary, I saw two dead deer today, plus a few squished skunks.

Oh how nice Petunia! I saw a bear smeared across the road, plus a fox. That’s 20 points I believe. Would you like some more tea?

There’s also the “you kill it, you grill it” mantra in effect for road kill and small towns. Can’t let good protein go to waste. Plus all is fair in tough economic times.

Anything that can be stuffed and mounted will be stuffed and mounted. Including grandma.

Anything that can be stuffed and mounted will be stuffed and mounted. Including grandma.

And lest we forget, when it comes to dead things and small towns it’s also all about the interior decorating. Dead things hanging on a wall have a certain … je ne sais quoi to them.

If you bag that moose or deer with a rack that would put (insert sexist reference to a celebrity’s chest here) to shame, you’ve gotta put that baby on display.

Same with that fish, or at least that fish that didn’t get away. Or horns, cowhide, cow skulls, turtle shells, or pelts. If it once had a pulse, it belongs on the wall where anyone who enters your castle can see the full glory of your dead animal collection.

It’s a total thumbing of the nose to Martha Stewart and all those other uppity interior decorating people.

You can’t fight it. Everything dies. Get used to it. We’re just keeping it REAL in the countryside, Martha & Co.

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