Thursday, July 2, 2009

Jackalopes and Indian Frank

Last Thursday I gave you a story about my youthful travels. You said you wanted more, so here's another. A few years older, but still painfully naive...

As I recall, Frank was a boy with dirty blonde ringlets that fell well past his shoulders. He wore, through our brief acquaintance, what my friend Ellin always referred to as a dirtbag hat; leather or suede with a wide, loose brim. He spoke softly and confidently. I thought he was beautiful. I thought lots of boys were beautiful, so it wasn't a particularly grand compliment.

I met Frank while camping with our family and some friends in South Dakota. South Dakota, as you're probably aware, is home to Mt. Rushmore. Which I thought was kind of overrated. But I was fifteen that summer and pronouncing things overrated, bourgeois or simply dull was sort of my job. And I was good at it.

To my way of thinking, the best thing about Mt. Rushmore was the souvenir T-shirt that pictured the four presidents carved into a mountain and read: Even the Nicest People Get Stoned. Mom didn't think that was as appropriate for a young teen as I thought it was. Back at band camp that August, I would've been a rockstar in that ringer T. Not appropriate. Whatever. Appropriate is overrated.

South Dakota, like many of the more rustic regions of the United States, is also heavily populated by jackalopes. If you're too citified to be aware (or if you've never eaten in a large chain steakhouse), a jackalope is a hybrid between a jackrabbit and an antelope. It looks for all the world like an everyday rabbit, but with a lovely little set of antlers. They were quite ubiquitous, as evidenced by the vast availability of specimens that taxidermists had carefully preserved in various natural poses and were selling in every gift shop. Mounted heads of the unfortunate horned bunnies were pretty readily available as well.

I believed in them utterly.

Why should I not?

I'd seen proof.

Who would go to such vast lengths to perpetrate a hoax? I couldn't grok the motivation behind it.

So it was in this place - this land of stoned presidents and jackalopes - that I met Frank and his golden curls.

Frank was an Indian.

A Native American.

I know this because he told me.

I couldn't think of a reason a slightly older teenaged boy might lie to a slightly younger teenaged girl who was hoping to catch a glimpse of a jackalope in it's natural habitat before heading back to her suburban home.

No reason at all.


Not a one.

I listened to his tales about his life and his people in wide-eyed wonder, fascinated. I asked him questions and he provided quick answers for every one of them.

He was dreamy.

And so exotic.

I believed every word he said like it was the gospel itself.

Naive? Well - um - yeah.

Stupid? I wouldn't be so quick with that call. I got to spend several evenings in the company of a beautiful blonde Native American with bountiful curls and a million stories.

How many people get to say THAT?


Pam said...

I have two teen daughters and you describe them perfectly. Anything that parents think is fascinating is "overrated". And, of course, parents don't know anything. A blond Native American Adonis, on the other hand, is the most fascinating and intelligent being ever created. Oh, to be sixteen again!

Sandy said...

O my did you bring back some memories.......were we all so gullible then?

Melissa B. said...

Good pub trivia team name: The Stoned Presidents. Pretty good, huh? I have one question: Did you want to go snipe-hunting at that age, too? My eldest left last nite for a European trek. She's 22, so I'm not too worried. But Hubz & I spent most of the past week exhorting her, in no uncertain terms, to ignore the good-looking Italian men/boys.

Unknown said...

Ahh, the innocence of youth, but with know it all attitude, I recall it well!
So curious, was there anything more to those long hours of jackalope watching?
And yes Melissa, I've got snipe hunting............ugh...LOL.

Gibby said...

Aren't you headed toward these types of vacations with your girls, but this time round you are the mom wishing they had picked a better t-shirt??? LOL!

Cute story.

Macey said...

Oh geez, sometimes I'm so gullible, I'd probably believe him NOW. And I'm old!
I think it's pretty cool that you got to spend your time with the blond indian boy... : )
One of these days are you gonna bind all of these stories? Your kids will love them. As would we, your followers.

Housewife Savant said...

He gave that same line of bull to the four stoned Presidents.

Alex the Girl said...

The Stoned Presidents (like The Dead Kennedys) sounds like an awesome name for a band.

I would have so been there. Not only was I completely gullible at that age, I had a sign printed on every shirt I wore that read "Pick me. I'll believe everything you say."

But you're leaving the gritty out...did...he...smooch you? Huh? Huh? Tell!

You're such a good story teller. I'm telling you, once you started describing the antlers of the bunnies, I was thinking to myself..."Wow, I thought that was just a folktale. Cool."

Vodka Mom said...

Tammy - I LOVED that story!!

well done, my friend. :-)

Carma Sez said...

A Blonde American Indian and Jakalopes - love it! Ignorance is bliss - esp when the blonde is a hottie ;-)

sitting on the mood swing at the playground said...

Very funny! When I saw jackalopes, I wondered if it was going to be a SD post! I grew up there and often heard (and later chimed in on) jackalope stories.

Claudya Martinez said...

I think blonde Native Americans and jackalopes are meant to be enjoyed together.