The Observer Dec. 30 

The Observer found ourselves “volunteered” to go with one of our best buddies, an avid hunter — no, make that a rabid hunter — for a short road trip down to DeWitt to pick up a processed 12-point buck he’d shot in the deer woods down there. We say volunteered because the rest of his friends were either in the woods trying to get a bigger one or serendipitously had doctor’s appointments, flat tires, sick chameleons, etc. Buddy called The Observer in the wee morning hours, high on hunter’s hubris, proclaiming that he had finally got “El Muy Grande.” He’d been stalking Mr. Grande for three years. We didn’t mind the idea of the short journey to get the fruits of a 12-gauge, so we said OK. We’re a bit of a tomboy, anyway, and not especially squeamish around blood and guts, guns and ammo, and rednecks and four-wheelers. The processing house itself was nestled deep down a back road in DeWitt. As we walked into the bowels of the plant proper, several slaughtered bucks were hanging from a line, waiting their turn to be turned into bologna, etc. We could go into more detail about entrails, blood and gore in general, but we’ll save it. Our own stomach gave a churn when we saw the proprietor of the joint chomp down on a huge Sonic Burger amid the room’s sanguineous splatters. The Observer, after a peek into the deer freezer to compare and contrast Buddy’s catch with some of the others, spotted a lone, lost little deer leg. With this, we satisfied our blood lust, and were ready to get back to tall buildings and paved highways. One more thing to do. Buddy threw his packaged prize into the back of his truck. Then he handed The Observer Mr. Grande’s enormous rack. As we fondled and displayed, a la Vanna White, Buddy’s trophy, a couple of hunters fresh from camp stared. “Now, ’at’s a big ’un,” one declared (and we’re pretty sure he was talking about the deer). “Yeah,” admitted his jealous companion, much to the delight of Buddy. Back in Little Rock, The Observer was treated to a few well deserved (and much needed) beers for having braved the guts and glory of the DeWitt hunting crowd. We told Buddy that the pride on his face as the other guys admired Mr. Grande’s antlers made him look just like a high school quarterback getting an MVP trophy. “Yeah,” he said, “and tonight you were the Queen of DeWitt.” A true compliment, we think. The Observer is not celebrating the news that the day draws near when we’ll all be able to use our cell phones on airplanes. The airplane is one of the last refuges for people who resent, as we do, having others’ conversations forced upon them. The Observer would love to mind our own business. Nowadays, we’re not allowed to. It happens that The Observer had occasion to visit a large government agency recently. When we discovered that cell phones were barred from the waiting room, the rather long wait became much more pleasant. We may start frequenting the federal building. The Observer’s always been a somewhat pasty character, never one to go in for the fake-n-bake devices that could alleviate the shock of that first day of shorts in the spring. We’ve never set foot, nay, not any other body part, in a tanning parlor. And now we never will: On a recent afternoon, The Observer was listening to the car radio on as we circled the block near The Observatory looking for a parking spot. On came a commercial, featuring the voice of a recent Miss Something-or-Other, telling us that we should try Mr. So-and-So’s tanning parlor in Hot Springs, “where the beds are always clean.” Excuse me? Early morning vignettes from our daily stroll: A grizzled, bearded old man in a hooded parka, sitting on a park bench in the cold, gray morning with a boom box playing “Layla.” A black cat, mincing across our path, bird in mouth. A mockingbird with its wings still fluttering. A gingko tree, finished shedding its garments, the ancient and verdant leaves that turn gold at the end of fall. The owners of this great tree have allowed a few days’ display of its final show, a golden carpet beneath the bare scarecrow form. It is winter.

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