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Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tokyo Rose - the goose

Tokyo Rose Gets Her Comeuppance

Numbered among the animals on my grandfather’s farm north of Lubbock, Texas during World War II, were half dozen or so geese. Now, I didn’t know much about geese then, and I don’t know much more about them now. I guess you could say I’m geese challenged.

However I’ve managed to live all these years with that glaring gap in my education, and I suppose I can live the rest of them without my hair falling out or other such harm coming my way. To be honest, it stands to reason that only another goose would be interested in an intimate knowledge of geese.

At first, I never paid the gaggle of geese much attention. Any time I started toward them, I noticed the gander always took up his spot between his ladies and me. For some reason, that behavior always fascinated me. Here’s the male protecting the females. Almost human.

According to my cousin, Ed, for the most part the geese kept to themselves, except for one. She decided she was too good for the gaggle. That was the one Papa finally named Tokyo Rose.

Tokyo Rose was not content to stay with her own. She was independent, and I suppose that independence is what made her sneaky. You see, being a goose, about the only creature she could best was another goose or a chicken. The other farm animals were too large for her, so she developed two means of taking care of herself.

Her main prong of assault was the sneaky backside attack. She lay in wait beneath a bush, or behind a tree, or around a corner, and as soon as her victim, be it man or animal, passed, she’d burst from her hiding place, wings flapping like bed sheets on the line, and grab the meaty part of her victim’s backside with that bill of hers.

To her delight, her sneak attack so startled her victim, he ran, and she pursued with frenzied determination, that croaking goose cry of hers echoing across the farm, warning everyone she had her prey on the run. She chased him as far as she could, savoring every second of the torture.

Her second means of taking care of herself was the protection offered by Papa’s hog, Mussolini. Now, if you remember from an earlier column, Hitler the hog was Papa Holley’s boar Hampshire, the leader of the pack as the old rock and roll song goes. And Mussolini was number three. He was of the Duroc breed, a breed that Papa claimed didn’t have much of a brain, but he knew his place in the hierarchy of hogs. He always deferred to Hitler.

How she and Mussolini got together, I don’t know, but more than once, I saw Tokyo Rose perched on Mussolini’s back while the fat pig gobbled up his slop. The first time I witnessed the strange occurrence was one Thanksgiving when Ed and I saw Tokyo Rose carry out a sneak attack on one of Papa’s old hounds.

Instead of running, the dog turned on Tokyo Rose. So startled that any creature would dare dispute her authority around the farm, she turned tail and wings flapping, raced for the hog pen.

Now domestic geese can’t fly more than a few feet, but when she hit the top rail of the hog pen, she flew over twenty or thirty feet and landed on Mussolini’s back. Naturally, the dog did not pursue into the hog pen. He was angry, but he wasn’t stupid.

The next summer, I noticed Tokyo Rose, still up to her old tricks, was no longer a part of the gaggle. Whenever she headed to her gaggle, they ran. And the gander invariably took up his place between her and the others. During the next two months, the only farm animal I saw her with was Mussolini.

According to Ed, “That old goose got what she deserved. All the animals got tired of her sneaking up on them. None of them want to be around her, not even the old gander who used to protect her.”

I studied Tokyo Rose out there, strutting around, all alone except for fat Mussolini. I guess I should have felt sorry for her, but when I remembered her sneak attacks on me, sorrow just wasn’t there.

She live another two or three years. If animals can be lonely, she probably was. She deserved it.

Note: my cousin, Ed, lives in Amarillo. If he reads this, he might not remember it the same as I. That was a long time bad, and memory has a way of poking fun at us; but still, give or take a lie or two, that's how I remember it.

1 comment:

Jess said...

Great story, Kent. I know geese too. Back in the day I smoked, I loved thumping my butts to see how far I could send them. One day sitting on a friend's front porch, I accidently hit his goose in the head with the cigarette butt. She didn't do anything to me right then but she didn't accept my apology either. Talk about holding a grudge! Never again was I able to walk across his yard without being chased by that thing.

I don't like geese.