On Saturday night, I got a chance to wait tables with a guy named Josh. This was the first chance I had to really interact with Josh and I found him to be a little bit of an enigma. When first talking to him, I thought he was like me and my people: tongue firmly in cheek. He has a definite hippy image and energy and he works at one of the local farms, but I have met a lot of educated, ironic hippies. However, as the evening went on and we cut more and more fava beans, I wasn't quite sure that my initial assessment was correct. I realized his statements were a weird mix of cynicism and earnestness. It was like he knew that what he was saying might be seen as a little dippy, but he believed it anyway. It was charming. He also said some extremely odd things.
While we were prepping fava beans (an hour and a half at ten dollars an hour per person; those are expensive fava beans), we were doing a little life-story talking and I said that a lot of my time on the island has been spent healing.
"That's really interesting, especially since there are so many deer here."
I cut in silence for a little while since I could not for the life of me figure out what this meant or how to ask the question tactfully.
Luckily, he picked the conversation back up, "I mean, deer are always symbols for healing in Native American beliefs."
"Oh," I said.
"Which is funny," he continued, "Because I really want to kill one with my bare hands."
"Huh," I said. "Why is that, do you think?"
"I don't know but it's just something I've been wanting to do. You know, snap it's neck and feel the life force flowing out. . ." He made an illuminating hand motion, with the paring knife still in his hand.
I tried to fish around for a little bit and give him the chance to attach some spiritual motivation to this somewhat disturbing confession of violent tendencies. It was additionally disturbing because he said it all in a conversational, but passionate tone of voice, like it was completely normal to want to do this. I asked him if he would eat the animal.
"Yea, but that wouldn't be why I killed it."
Then Shelley joined in. Shelley has trouble keeping up in conversations and she says things that tend to embarass the rest of us because she is so rediculously nice but has a phenomenally small world view. She began talking about her "half-Indian" cousin who had been required to tear the heart out of an animal that had just been killed and he had to eat the heart. Those last three worlds were delivered like a 12-year-old telling a ghost story. "And the hook was hanging from the car door handle."
Josh got even more excited. "That would be great. To hold its still-beating heart in my hands!"
Shelley and Josh continued in this vein for a little while until finally, I talked about someone telling me that if deer get into a fenced vegetable garden, they were legally considered varmints and could then be hunted. I had thought this was a way to change the subject and it mostly succeeded, except that Josh then told about the owner of the farm, George, and how he hates the deer that get into the farm to the extent that he takes of running after them with the gardening knife poised in his hand. "He hates them."
A gentle, touchy-feely, sensitive hippy guy talking about killing deer with his own hands. All in all, the perfect island conversation.
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