The vastiness of the cosmos has been replaced by wonderment at the intricacies of mammalian interiors around here lately. The WideEyedLaundry is full of gored up shirts and khakis. My mind, in moments of distraction, traces ropey muscles, rubbery tendons, and white bones rather than the sparkle of faraway stars and dark matter. I imagine muscles flexing, tendons pulling, and mighty bison hooves stomping on dusty ground.
A buffalo died at the zoo a week or two ago. The strange nature of my job calls on me to transform this creature from fur and flesh to clean, white skeleton. The process involves waterproof shoes, a U-Haul van rental, several students, many scalpels, and protective gloves.
Defleshing a bison used to be normal. Well, not yesterday normal, not for me. But most of our human past required the ability to make dinner from something that used to be walking around. Personally make dinner, not abstract-grocery-plastic-wrapped-into-a-frying-pan-dinner. Now, it’s a little strange for most people.
I just can’t help but notice the way things go together in there, under the skin. I can’t help but marvel that it all works. I can’t help but realize that the bison and all of the creatures who passed through the lab before it this past year smell like food. Except the woodchuck. He had been on the side of the road for a bit too long and he smelled greenish. Not grass greenish. Bile greenish.
Smelling dinner all day, being up to my elbows in what is now biological waste rather than forthcoming meals, makes me want to dine on things that didn’t once have perceptions.
Yesterday after the bison I was standing in line at Trader Joe’s buying pizza dough, cheese, and beer. (Not, you’ll notice, plastic wrapped meat). My eye fell on the impulse buy shelf at the checkout: “Perfect for the ride home!” the little sign said. I peered closer – ah, a little bag of dark chocolate peanut butter cups. Perfect indeed!
This evening there was one left. One. I poured myself a glass of wine and shuffled the little guy out of the packet. I don’t know what happened but it flew out of my hand. I heard it ping against the microwave door, knock against the front of the fridge. I saw a gleam of the foil wrapper as it spun to the floor. To the Dog Zone. That peanut butter cup is safe in my belly now, but I’m telling you that there was an ugly period of fending off Miss Tibbit and Hamish and scrambling around to beat them to it. We won’t discuss that further.
For better or for worse, I know what the inside of a bison looks like. Therefore, I, not the dogs, get the last peanut butter cup.