By Richard Gambino
I had a dream recently in which a deer talked to me — he even showed me a picture of his two kids. You can’t make this stuff up! He said he’d been chosen by his kind to deliver a message to us humans on the East End. Here’s what he told me — make of it what you will:
“My dear human friends, I don’t know your names, so I’ll just address you as Jane Does and Buckaroos. You see, there are in excess of 30 million of us whitetails in North America, at least half of us in North Haven. At least that’s what you’d believe in talking with some of the two-legged residents there. And I don’t mean the turkeys there.
Or do I?
“First, I want to thank you. A hundred years ago, there were only 1 million whitetails in North America. What accounts for our phenomenal growth? You humans have created, and are still creating, suburbs, and they’re the ideal habitat for us. I know, I know, you think of the East End as ‘country.’ But I have to tell you, I have family who live in real country places. Like the national parks. Clearing forests of trees and bushes to make all these ’burbs may harm other four-legged animals, but it just gives us whitetails more accessible plants to eat — now over one hundred green plants in the suburbs which we like to munch on — to the tune of seven pounds per day, which is what one of us eats. Much of it is grass, so you humans should be grateful that there’s that much less you have to mow, with those damned mind-assaulting noisy power cutters and blowers — jeez!
“Now, I have to get into some of the more problematic interactions between you people and us whitetails. Let’s talk about what happens when we let one of you approach us. We try to be pleasant, gazing at you with our big, beautiful dark eyes. But then, more often than not, you yell, and/or wave your arms, and/or throw stones at us. Not to mention those among you with guns or bows and arrows. I mean, don’t you kill enough of each other with your infernal weapons? Must you turn them on us, too? And, oh, just a reminder that all warm-blooded creatures — birds, field mice, chipmunks, squirrels, raccoons — carry ‘deer’ ticks. ’Nuff said?
“Also, there’s that ‘deer in the headlights’ thing. Car lights overwhelm us — but how about you? Try staring into some truck’s high beams. Don’t get smug. Our hearing is much better than yours — and not only are our eyes prettier than yours, but our ears are also prettier than your wrinkle-ups, n’est pas? And our noses! Each of our lovely shining black noses has 300 million olfactory receptors. That’s more than those in a bloodhound’s nose, and far more than your human snouts’ 5 million. Whitetails have been around for 3 million years — our noses give us great survival value. Yours? They just give you colds and allergies. Fact is, we can smell you people from hundreds of yards away. But then, no offense, you humans need to shower more, and wash your clothes more often. Did you ever detect b.o. given off by a whitetail? Never.
“We have four stomachs, and take our time using them to totally digest all we eat. We don’t need no stinking Pepto Bismol or Tums. And we chew our food slowly and carefully. Have you watched yourselves at McDonalds? Enough to turn even our four stomachs.
“And, hardly least, we need to talk about death by car. We like to eat next to roads, in the open sunlight, because that’s where the grass grows best. And we need to cross roads, well, because you divided the land with them. Do you text while driving? Do speed limit signs mean, ‘hit the pedal to the metal,’ to you? Do stop signs mean, ‘screw it, we’re in the country,’ to you? When will you stop ‘culling’ us with your cars, trucks, guns, and bows and arrows? It’ll be your loss when you wipe us out. The East End will be Queens. And you’ll no longer be able to buy 16 oz. sodas — yick! Natural justice, I’d say.”
RICHARD GAMBINO lives, astonished by his dreams, in North Haven.