Just when I start to fret about what I’ll do with all that time on my hands when I voluntarily retire, or when my “golden years” are thrust upon me, comes an idea for a swell hobby: taxidermy.
I was inspired by an article in the WSJ Online, where, strewn amidst all the fulminating about that arch lefty Obama, there are all sorts of little goodies.
Like the one about the Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest, the fifth annual of which was held in Brooklyn recently.
The winner, by the way, was a woman who’d mounted – apparently, taxidermists don’t use the word “stuffed” – a rat terrier, fetchingly arrayed in a bead-studded, netting tiara. Alas, despite the fetching head gear, the animal struck me as more “rat” than “terrier”. Which is not to say that the late and lamented was not somebody’s baby.
I couldn’t copy the picture of the winning entry, because it was flash, but here’s Beth Beverly, the winning taxidermist, in a rather stunning chicken hat stuffed, I guess, with Ms. Beverly’s head. Even blown up, I can’t quite determine with 100% accuracy, but I do believe that what’s pointing to Ms. Beverly’s brow is the chicken’s head.
There were twenty-three other entrants, whose mounts included a hyena, a squirrel and a puffin.
Which got me to wondering about what animals I would use for my taxidermy-in.
For starters, I wouldn’t want to work on any animal I knew and loved. That would be way, way, way too upsetting.
Since I’m not a hunter and, even in retirement can’t imagine becoming one, that leaves the local fauna.
So my choices would be the usual: pigeons, rats, mice, Canada geese, ducklings from the Make Way for Ducklings pond, sea gulls and other birds. (And, no, I wouldn’t kill one for sport; I’d just have to be on the alert enough to find a fresh kill before too much unpleasantness had set in.)
What else do we have around here?
I’ve seen a raccoon, smelled skunks, and spotted a hawk. For a while, there was a turtle living in our front garden patch.
Maybe I could nab a coyote at the Cape. You can hear them howling from my sister Kath’s in Wellfleet.
While we’re thinking Cape, maybe a dolphin or a whale will wash up. (Might be easier to tackle something smaller, like a rat, for my first project, however.)
I guess I’m not lacking be lacking for ideas, just for opportunity, since I can count on one hand the number of dead animals I’ve seen that haven’t already begun decomposing. I understand that there’s a certain amount of yuck factor to any taxidermy, but I’d prefer that decomposition not be a major part of it.
Anyway, I probably have a few years to figure it out. And since there is such a thing as a professional taxidermist, perhaps this could be a follow-on career for me. And demand for things-taxidermed is apparently on the upswing:
"For many years, when you'd think of taxidermy, you'd think of some guy's wood-paneled basement red room out in the country," said Mike Zorn, a guest speaker and judge who co-owns Obscure Antiques & Oddities in the East Village and hosts a new television show, "Oddities," on the Discovery Channel. "Now it's everywhere, in advertising, fashion, art. Juicy Couture bought a pile of heads from us a couple years ago to decorate their stores with."
Advertising? Fashion? Art?
I bet I could easily rustle up a bunch of rat heads for Juicy Couture. What do you suppose they pay per capita?