Take a hike
© Eric Sparling – Amherst Daily News
Eric Sparling is rugged in a recycled paper rain poncho by Hermann Saint-Louis, while Pam MacPhee is ebullient in a hi-tech wind chemise constructed by NEXor from organic spider gossamer.
There were no birds on my walk with Pam MacPhee. Hurricane force winds and driving rain might have had something to do with it. Or perhaps a bulletin has been sent out to all fowl: “Pam MacPhee hates us.”
And she really does. In fact, Pam the Subway manager doesn’t like many animals, be they winged, hoofed, clawed or tentacled. She detests birds most of all, however, and there are no exceptions. Even the giant ostrich gets lumped in with budgies and pigeons.
Horses are her second most hated animal. I asked if she’d ever ridden a horse. Yes, she said. I asked if she’d ever been thrown from a horse and then had birds peck at her unconscious form.
“No,” she said.
I was stumped. I’m returning my Junior Psychologist DVD for a refund.
A few beasts are exempted from the sandwich artist’s hall of hatred. She has two dogs, Trooper and Daisy. Trooper is a rottie and Daisy is a shi-tzu. She adores them. Daisy is six pounds and bosses 125-pound Trooper around.
The manager has had cats in the past. It pleased her when the cats caught birds and brought them to the door.
“I would sew a feather from each kill to their little kitty collars,” she said. “My tabby, Eagle Slayer, had so many feathers we could hardly see his adorable face.”
A goat lived with her and her husband. He went everywhere with them. Even to Ikea.
She doesn’t like bear or deer hunting because they’re cute.
“Coyotes are OK to shoot,” she said.
When I pointed out coyotes are canines like the dogs she loves, that didn’t make any difference.
“We’ve gone over this, Eric. I like dogs and cats. Not wolves, not lions, not foxes or cheetahs. I do not like them, Pam I am.”
She thinks hippos are “cooler” than rhinos but elephants are the best African animals of all.
We turned around, heading into the storm. My glasses were instantly coated. Good thing I’ve actually got those little windshield wipers you always thought were a joke installed on my specs.
…whick-whicka, whick-whicka, whick-whicka…
MacPhee will eat an animal, but I suspect even that is an expression of distaste. She’s like me with vegetables: I eat vegetables because I hate them and want to punish them by feasting on their crispy (or sometimes mashed) carcasses. My guess? Subway Lady is one angry carnivore.
But even anger won’t bring her to eat a bird.
We were within sight of our shared home base at Amherst Square when she finally admitted the truth.
“I haven’t spoken of this in years, but my best friend’s dog and cat were killed when a horse-faced pilot named Robin crashed his plane into her front yard, squashing Belvedere and Xeno.”
I nodded solemnly.
“I understand, Pam,” I said. But really I didn’t.
Disclaimer: Take a Hike is a mix of fact and fiction. Eric’s guest may or may not have said what appears in this column. It’s probably best you assume s/he didn’t.
The next installment of Take a Hike will appear February 18.