Toward the end of his reading at the Lensic Theater in Santa Fe, NM, David Sedaris began riffing about wild animals. He told of how often they appeared on his rural West Sussex, England property, with its field, large front yard and barn converted into an office. He mentioned how he had befriended a fox. He remarked how he was so happy he didn't have domestic pets since they formed a major source of conflicts among couples. How much should you feed a cat, for example? As much as he wants, because all an animal really desires is food, so why not satisfy that urge? Alternatively, who wants a fat cat who can hardly move, and is unhealthy to boot? Well, but larger animals cannot jump as high and knock over antique lamps and such is the answer to that one, and so on, back and forth.
David and his partner Hugh had argued thusly, and continued to differ over the wild beast David has adopted. Even the neighbors entered the scene, claiming that foxes were dangerous and that they kill other animals. David answered, but we don't have any chickens, so that problem's off the table. Meanwhile, Hugh dug up a desiccated thumb-like protuberance when gardening, holding it in the air, asking David, "What's this?" "Oh, that's half a hot dog," said David, "for Carol," the name he had given the fox. "Can't you throw the food out in the back meadow instead of in the front yard," asked Hugh, to which David just shrugged his shoulders. Against all odds, David developed his relationship with Carol.
As you see in the picture above, Carol doesn't like to make direct eye contact, a habit carefully noted by her human collaborator. In a peak moment, David strolled through the nearby woods one night, carrying his pocket flashlight. He heard a pit-pit patter of feet, and by god, there was Carol trailing behind him, following him to his door. A few minutes later, David said that Carol was eating out of his hand, but his tone showed he didn't want to brag or make too much of that to us, his audience.
So concluded a night of reading and talking that had highlighted a story about a kid who hitched a ride with a guy he thought was Santa Claus. The mysterious driver ended up beating the kid's cruel and neglectful second step-dad to death, which was as hilarious as it was horrifying, if you can believe that. After that, David had treated us to the human/animal connection, as tender as it can get. As a footnote, today, while opening my car door to put my purse in the back, I thought I heard a pitter-pattering next to me. Sure enough, it was a very quiet medium-sized black dog, nuzzling my hand. I think it was one of the neighbors' dogs. I had never seen it in my driveway before.
- Andee Baker