There are a number of things that I never imagined would happen in my own life, and among them, was that I’d share our house with a one-eyed, one-ear, hat wearing, taxidermy squirrel named Pierre. Constantly in sympathy for animal rights, the mere idea of a deceased person being filled, and used as decoration, actually turned my stomach. However, as I got older, I realized that, like individuals, they all have different stories, rather than all came through improper means.
Years ago, we weren’t so worried about protecting the lives of creatures, and they truly were used for food and sport. I won’t get into the politics of it, since most of us know, but thankfully we’ve become wiser to the effect that our searching pleasure had on the planet, and there are rules about what can and can’t become a decoration or an over-sized ash-tray.
But my experience with taxidermy is less than exotic, and definitely does not involve a loved and protected species.
Many years back, my daughter and I used to watch Oddities, a series about a little shop in new york called Obscura. Every week, they would present a few clients, and take the viewers on a tour of the eccentric collectibles; everything from a shrunken visit a medical device that made you wince merely to hear the title. It was an instruction into the (often) less desirable side of history; a location full of curiosities and questions.
She was thrilled, and, mercifully, the shop was exactly how it looked on television (even the misshapen, wooden mannequin was propped up crookedly out, sweetly allowing the Obscura signal ).
With all of her money in her hand, I told her she could buy anything she wanted (while keeping my fingers crossed that it would not be anything too dreadful ). Not everything was pricey, but condition mattered, and the more unique, pristine pieces were certainly out of her league. Many did not have prices on them, which made it hard for a young woman with birthday money. However, it was a wonderful place to shop around, and the questions simply poured from us. The store was empty, so we spent an hour in there.
There were two; one was really nice looking, with a shiny coat, and another was quite old, and very scraggy. We were told that he was out of the 1950’s, was used as a teaching aid in schools, and had only returned to the store recently. 1 ear was missing, along with a glass eye had popped out, but he was holding a nut, and the wooden bracket had a beautiful age to it. I was not thrilled with the notion of bringing him home, but it could have been something much worse, and I knew why he wanted him.
She felt sorry for himand hoped he was not too much money when she asked for the purchase price. It required every dollar she had, but she was so happy that she could manage the busted squirrel in her favourite shop. They put him in a paper bag, and she promptly took him out, drifting down the road with a dead, stuffed squirrel in her hands.
I cringed as she carried him through the front door, wondering how on earth he would fit into our house, which sort of mad mother was I, and did it matter? Therefore, we found him a shelf to sit on, we gave him a little, blue hat to make him feel less hurt, then, with what seemed like perfect timing, his tail dropped off…
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