When I arrived home the other evening, after a day that started at 5 a.m. and still required a kid shuttle to swim practice within the hour, I noticed a large slab of raw meat perched on a tray on the counter.
“Oh, that’s some venison from upstate New York,” said the Gearhead. He
was nonchalant about it, as if he were describing the finest white truffle harvested from Alba, Italy. But my suspicions were raised. Not because of the venison; we’re regularly gifted venison steaks or sausages at this time of year from local hunters with permission to use the land. It was the “upstate New York” that piqued my curiosity.
“Why upstate New York?”
“Well, funny story,” he said, “[a friend] asked me to take a peek beneath his car…”
He had my full attention now. He went on to describe how our friend had hit a deer. Well, he hadn’t actually hit it, the truck in front of him had, and our friend had run over the deer that had already been hit. The Gearhead twirled his fingers around in the air describing how our friend’s car had been thrown sideways, spinning after impact. The friend had called the Gearhead, wanted to make use of the car hoist, to assess the damage done, remove any incriminating evidence. The Gearhead pointed at the slab on the counter.
“And this chunk of meat was stuck underneath the car!” He was beaming.
[wife edits: okay, stay calm…]
“Ewwww. It’s bleeding!!” said one of the kids.
“We’re not going to eat that!” said the other.
“Of course we’re going to eat it! I think it’s the tenderloin,” said the Gearhead.
I looked at the red hunk, oozing on the tray. It definitely wasn’t a tenderloin. I wondered if the Gearhead was flipping into upsale mode, I wondered how one might be able to tell from the ripped up pieces of muscle, what part of the animal this may have come from? There were little bits of gravel stuck on the one side.
All I could think to say was, “But we’re having salmon tonight.”
“Ewww! We’re not going to eat that!” said one of the kids. I wasn’t sure if in reference to the deer or the salmon. Probably both, or rather, neither.
I should pause here to explain that the essential — the absolutely necessary — key to succeeding through a work week of extracurriculars, including my own, is a chart on our fridge that I fill out, as ritual, as religion, every weekend, that will instruct me, dead tired, each weeknight, what to cook us for dinner. It ensures that I shop for the stuff we’ll need and have the ingredients on hand. It saves me from having to make a crucial decision when everything (read: everyone) in the house slips sideways into angry temper tantrums, hungry as we all are. The chart prevents me from stepping off the precipice into the yawning mouth of insanity. This week, Tuesday was salmon. Not Venison. Not Venison from upstate New York. Definitely not road kill harvested from beneath our friend’s car. I pushed the thought of the Gearhead scraping the fur from the item resting on my kitchen counter.
“You’re supposed to hang deer, to let the blood drain out, to let it age and air dry.” I said.
“But thus has bled out! It’s been hanging for two days beneath the car! It’s been air chilled to perfection.”
“I don’t know…”
“Oh, where it was hanging next to the exhaust got cooked. I cut off those bits and fed them to the dog.”
I looked down at the dog and she looked up at me, wagging her tail with great big wet seal-like eyes. She didn’t look like she was about to keel over.
“We’re having salmon.”
“Fine. I’ll put it in the freezer.”
So here’s the invite folks. If I get a bunch of brave takers (message me), I’ll cook that roadkill and we can all have a taste of it. I’m sure it will carry a note of asphalt, the texture of gravel and the chew of fear. Don’t worry, I’ve got some Slivovitz in the pantry to wash it down. Maybe we can tear at it with our hands like cave men. Bring a change of clothes…
“I think you should call your post deer shift.”
“I think you should call yourself a lucky husband.”