Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Curtis the Buffalo, Part Deux

Oh, yeah, life went on and I sorta forgot I owed time to the blog. And, previously, I promised to say more about Curtis (habitual serialization, you know), who's become a much beloved "pet" as well as a thoroughly reliable conversation piece.

So here we are in early May, and Curtis the All-Around Solid Loyal Buffalo is still with us. The problem of where to put him has been resolved. I stood him atop a small credenza under my great-grandmother's alpine cuckoo clock, and he seemed happy there, and we could all see him every day, so the first place apparently was the right place. Location, location, location! The bison has it.

Now, shortly after Curtis joined the household, I started to notice some odd things about him. Although adorable, he didn't look quite right to me. I thought American bison were brown with black. In a nearby preserve, there's one who's mostly brown. Curtis is entirely pitch black and very shiny rather than coarse. Another thing--Curtis has very long horns. In fact, they look like bull horns. They're white, curved, and tipped with black. In contrast, the real bison's horns are shorter, and all light colored. [By now I'm wondering what kind of animal this really is.] Curtis sports a fetching goatee (uh, buffalotee?), but above that is a snout that looks very plastic, a little too wide, and is molded in one piece to a distinctively downturned mouth. He looks unhappy, or angry, or perhaps getting a notion to charge anyone in his view. This is slightly disconcerting when you sit on the sofa with your back turned to him. Unhappiness would be understandable in any buffalo, given that the bison population is certainly controlled and its natural habitat is paved with cement and surrounded with fences.

Finally, Curtis's fur always piques guests' curiosity. It's curly and black and luxurious. "Oh, it's so soft, I can't stop stroking it," more than one visitor has commented. It's true--you just want to pet him whenever you walk by. The fur is real, not faux. Now here is where my imagination gets the better of me. I am certain he is an import, and that he comes from a country (someplace in Asia? China? Viet Nam?) where the buffalo look different. And the creepy thought that occurs to me, and I think it every time I touch his fur, is that he might be made out of cat or rabbit or monkey fur. Even a small dog. Horrors!

So I had spent quite a long time secretly quaking inside about this. We love him as though he's a real critter, while his origin is unknown and possibly involved animal cruelty.

Then some friends came over for a walk in the woods at the reservoir. (By the time we got halfway up the hill, pouring rain drove us right back down again.) While we were air-drying, they asked about Curtis. I gave the spiel. Susie, who was born British but grew up in Venezuela, suggested, "Perhaps he's a Patagonian buffalo."

Oh . . .

Well, there you go. What a stupid, small-minded American [nationality] rotter I am for assuming "American" means "North American" or "U.S."!


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