A most peculiar pair. July 28, 2008Posted by ourfriendben in critters, wit and wisdom.
Tags: big-game hunters, bizarre inventions, eccentrics, inventors
If you’re thinking that the title of this post refers to our friend Ben and Silence Dogood, we can only say that we’d have an awfully long way to go to catch up to this couple. Silence and I are spending a week at the beach in Emerald Isle, North Carolina, with Silence’s family. The family patriarch was reminiscing this morning over some of Silence’s blueberry muffins about his most eccentric relatives. And our friend Ben has to admit that they sounded like something right out of a James Bond movie. They were simply too priceless not to share with you all!
The couple in question had a home in Nassau that they shared with the wife’s pet, a cheetah. It resided in the couple’s living room, except for those times that it strolled outside to pursue its chosen vocation, which happened to be reducing the island’s poodle population. Eventually, the pileup of bereaved and aggrieved pet owners reached epic proportions, and the couple was forced to turn the cheetah over to a wild animal park.
This was the least eccentric thing I learned about them.
The husband had begun his working life as the owner of a brick-making establishment, but quickly abandoned this to devote himself to his two ruling passions, inventions and big-game hunting. His crowning achievement as an inventor was the paper casket. Made of compressed paper, it was, our friend Ben has to think, the ultimate recyclable. Unfortunately for our story, Mr. Hays was unable to tell us how it went over with potential customers.
He did, however, share one more irresistible tidbit about his inventor cousin-in-law. While hunting grizzlies in Alaska, the erstwhile inventor lost an eye in a hunting accident. Like many another in similar circumstances, he replaced the missing orb with a glass eye. But unlike any eye our friend Ben has ever heard of, instead of a pupil, his glass eye sported an American flag. One can only pity the people who had to converse with the man while trying not to stare at the flag.
You might think that the loss of an eye would dampen someone’s enthusiasm for hunting, but no. (Our friend Ben is reminded of early photos in my books on falconry in which German falconers proudly held their golden eagles on their arms, the birds’ beaks not coincidentally in perfect proximity to their eyepatches.) The inventor’s next project was establishing a big-game safari park in Maryland, presumably so budget-minded hunters could get a little target practice without heading for the African veldt.
Our friend Ben is left to wonder if the inventor and his wife eventually went to their reward in paper coffins. I suppose we’ll never know. But the next time someone accuses you of being too eccentric, you can now defend yourself by telling them the story of this couple. And then remind them that British research has shown that eccentrics live longer, happier lives. (Assuming, of course, that they’re not literally consumed by their passions, as might in fact have happened in this case…)