A SULTRY SUMMER MORNING IN MICHIANA INDIANA (A CATCHY DITTY FOR A MUSICAL, WAY BETTER THAN “GARY, INDIANA”), MORE SPECIFICALLY – “GOOGLE MAP AVAILABLE” – AT THE INTERSECTION OF MICHIANA DRIVE AND CHICKADEE TRAIL, NOT IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD, BECAUSE YOU’D BE LIKELY TO GET RUN OVER, BUT CLOSE, IN THE ARBOREAL SURROUNDINGS NEARBY.
A MOTHER DEER AND HER TWO DEVELOPING OFFSPRING MUNCH AMBIENT FOLIAGE, THE MOTHER FROM LEAF-DAPPLED BRANCHES, THE DEVELOPING OFFSPRING FROM CLOSER TO THE GROUND BECAUSE THEY ARE AS YET NOT FULLY GROWN AND THE LOW STUFF IS CURRENTLY ALL THEY CAN HANDLE.
THE PROTECTIVE MOTHER DEER SUDDENLY HEARS SOMETHING, ALERTLY PRICKING UP HER EARS BECAUSE WHEN YOU SUDDENLY HEAR SOMETHING – AND YOU‘RE A DEER – THAT’S EXACTLY THE WAY YOU RESPOND.
THE DEER MOTHER: “They’re up.”
THE MORE OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING RESPONDS.
MORE OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING: “Who’s up, Mummy?
THE LESS OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING CONTINUES MUNCHING AMBIENT FOLIAGE, BUT IN THE DEMONSTRATIVE “LOOK AT ME” MANNER ACTORS CRITICIZE AS “INDICATING.”
“The people in the cabin.”
“The ones who come here one week a year and then leave and we lick the tree moss off of the siding?”
“Are we in danger, Mummy?”
“No. They just like to look at us.”
“Why do they do that, Mummy?”
“I suppose we’re a novelty to them.”
“You mean like ‘The Elephant Man’?”
“No, he was grotesque; we’re endearing visitors from Nature. How do you know about ‘The Elephant Man.’?”
“It was playing at the Dunes. I snuck in during intermission. I found it quite compelling for an amateur production.”
“They’re bringing in professional actors.”
“Well, so much for ‘spunky, small-town enthusiasm.’”
“It was that or close down forever.”
“What a dilemma for them. That will never happen to us, will it, Mummy?’
“Replacing us with Big City deer? They don’t have any. You want deer, we’re about as good as it gets.”
“Which makes us luckier than amateur actors. They can’t replace us with ‘professionals.’”
“Right, son. Well, enough chitchat. Let’s do this thing.
THE MOTHER DEER STARTS TOWARDS THE VICINITY OF THE CABIN, FOLLOWED BY HER MORE OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING. THE REBELLIOUS, LESS OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING REMAINS DEFIANTLY – YOU CAN TELL BY HIS “OVER THE TOP” PERFORMANCE – BEHIND. THE MOTHER DEER STOPS, TURNING HER HEAD.
“Hop to it, Junior. Before you know it, they’ll be out cruising antique emporia.”
THE LESS OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING DELIBERATELY IGNORES HER.
“I said now!” (SUDDENLY, TO MORE OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING) “Was that too loud?”
“No, Mummy. Though it was potentially life threatening. Or so you said when I accidentally stepped on a porcupine and you immediately covered my mouth. I am not being disrespectful, Mummy. Simply parroting good advice.”
“Thanks for reminding me. (TO LESS OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING) Can we go, please?
THE LESS OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING STOPS MUNCHING AMBIENT FOLIAGE, CHALLENGINGLY RAISES HIS HEAD.
LESS OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING: “No.”
“I’m am not doing that anymore?’
“‘Looking cute for the company.’ Such minstrelsy is demeaning to our species and I refuse to participate.”
THE MOTHER DEER HEAVES A FRUSTRATED DEER SIGH.
“What will I do with that boy. The disrespect for authority, and the natural order of things.”
“It’s all right, Mummy. Let’s you and me go. A mother and her young offspring doing ‘adorable deer things’? They’ll love it.”
“It’t totally disgraceful. You don’t see Dad doing ‘adorable deer things.’ Where is Dad, anyway?”
“He’s around somewhere. Male deer do other things.”
“Well I’m a male deer. And I am not doing that.”
“I’m a male deer.”
“A male deer who enjoys theater.”
“Watch it, Buster! I’ll take you out right here!”
“Look. You’re already munching ambient foliage over here. All I’m asking is that you munch ambient foliage over there. No gratuitous posing. I promise.”
“I’ll make a deal with you. I’ll pose for them if they’ll pose for us.”
“Son, I am not leaving you here by yourself. That’s like sticking a sign on you: ‘Predators Welcome!’”
“Okay. Give me one reason – besides that – that I should do this.”
“You want one reason? Lettuce.”
“You love lettuce. That’s his friends’ nickname for him, Mummy. ‘Lettuce.’”
“I can get my own lettuce.”
“How? You’re gonna walk into ‘Al’s Market’? They’ll call ‘Animal Control’. This is serious, okay? We need food all the time. Nobody will hire us, even at Minimum
“It’s the opposable thumbs thing. We don’t have any.”
“They don’t hire monkeys either.”
“Probably. But whatever it is, we forage. That’s what we do. The people in the cabin? They are very nice. At the end of their visit, they tear up the unused lettuce from the salads they didn’t make because they went out and ate hamburgers, they come outside and they spread torn-up lettuce-bites pieces around the property. Every year, they do that. And we want them to continue to do that. As a tradeoff, for survival reasons – and there is no better reason to do something than that and if you don’t you’re just stupid – we stroll onto their property, we do our regular deer thing – nothing overly demeaning – we munch ambient foliage, we stand around, sometimes still like statues – they seem to appreciate that – and then we move on. In our own time. We don’t hang around till they get bored and turn away. We move on when we’re ready. And that’s how we live. On the kindness of strangers.
“From ‘Streetcar’, right, Mummy?
“Right. Now, can we please just do this?”
THE LESS OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPRING HESITATES.
“For the lettuce?”
THE LESS OBEDIENT DEER OFFSPIRNG HEAVES A SURRENDERING SIGH.
“But if I see one focusing iPhone, I’m leaving.
THE DEER MOTHER AND HER TWO OFFSPING STROLL ONTO THE PROPERTY, MUNCHING AMBIENT FOLIAGE IN THE VICINITY. FROM INSIDE THE CABIN, THEY HEAR THE LOUDLY WHISPERED WORD, “DEER!” THE LESS OBEDIENT OFFSPING FLINCHES NOTICEABLY. BUT CONTINUES TO MUNCH.
At this point, you might reasonably expect a picture of the deer. Well we don’t have any. To assuage your understandable disappointment, I offer an exhilarating announcement:
Anna and Colby are having a baby.
That’s better than some clichéd deer picture, isn’t it?