By Logan Cox
Instead of having a list of things to do today, I had a list of things not to do.
The article my mom sent, said not to shop hungry. At first glance, the reasoning appeared flawed. If you shopped famished, you’d purchase more items you’d like to eat, which was the point of dragging yourself to the grocery store.
I wasn’t supposed to buy liquor before noon because it made you look like an alcoholic.
I ignored both of those rules and bought many potato-chip-based items and something called “cookie butter,” which sounded as though it could make my blood run thick as maple syrup. I didn’t have a drinking problem, but the value pack of beer was on sale, so I grabbed one.
I wasn’t supposed to visit my girlfriend because she didn’t want anyone to see her while she was sick. I knew better than to disobey. Since her mom was around, I had some level of confidence that she’d be fine.
I unpacked my bounty of groceries that ended up running me the equivalent of two regular trips or twenty-four car washes.
My house, which was about twenty miles outside Anchorage, included ten acres of woods. Delightful traces of frost and snow adorned the spruce trees. The air was painfully cold but clean and delicious.
Staying home all the time was one of those things you shouldn’t do, but no one was around to stop me from walking the trails alone.
A nine hundred-pound moose blocked the path, and normally I’d turn around and hurry away, because I wasn’t a demented lunatic.
There were a few things you shouldn’t do when encountering a moose, such as standing your ground. Extrapolating from that point, you shouldn’t sneer and make rude remarks, calling the creature overweight and gangly.
The moose didn’t exactly charge, as much as it meandered in my direction, seemingly wondering why this petulant child was so insolent.
Since it appeared to be listening, I shared my mental state. “I don’t care if you’re pregnant, angry, sick, exhausted, or just generally entitled. If you don’t leave the path in less than five seconds, I will charge you.”
My words weren’t exactly kind, and the huge product of Alaskan nature before me did not ask for this crap.
About two seconds before it would’ve made contact, I regained my senses and backpedaled. My expensive sunglasses flew off my face and into the snow. Those sunglasses probably made me look a little stuck up.
The moose studied the glasses, seemingly interested in the new object it had acquired. It picked the frames up with his teeth, but didn’t chow down.
I moved a safe distance away.
The moose looked over, as if to check with me. “These are mine?” it said with its eyes.
“Yeah, alright.” Who was I to argue with a force of nature?
Long after it had gone, I stood around until my toes got cold. I changed clothes, took a Xanax, and decided to do another thing I shouldn’t do.
Her mom looked happy to see me but then reminded me that I wasn’t allowed to visit right now.
After I let her know that she couldn’t stop me if she tried, she settled for a hug.
“Trayne, if she asks, I put up a good fight,” she whispered.
“Course you did,” I agreed.
From the number of over-the-counter medicines scattered around, it became obvious that a Guillain–Barré patient with the flu wouldn’t recover in a couple of days.
“No!” The tiny brunette on the couch threw a blanket over her face.
“Would you stop hiding, please?” I asked.
“No…” She whimpered.
“Listen, Sadie.” I sat beside her. “I don’t care if you’re pregnant, angry, sick, exhausted, or just generally entitled. If you don’t take the blanket off in five seconds, I will do it myself.”
“You’ve never seen me without makeup.”
“I’d really like to,” I said. “You just heard a list of the things I don’t care if you are, and we can add that one right now if you want.”
“Okay.” She cautiously moved the blanket aside.
She was at least three pounds lighter than the last time I saw her, and she weighed even less than that after she threw up the cookie butter on me.
After we all laughed, and her mom cracked open the value pack of beer, Sadie rinsed out her mouth with a nearly depleted bottle of mouthwash. She then assured us that throwing up was not funny.
“Where’d your speech come from anyway?” She wrapped us both in her blanket.
“I yelled at a moose,” I said.
Her mom rolled her eyes. “You’re supposed to back away urgently, not agitate it.”
“Believe me, a very well accessorized moose in my woods got a stern talking to today,” I said.
That earned a weak smile from Sadie. I held her sweaty body close and kissed her cheek. Perspiration wasn’t on the original list, but that was okay too. It was going to take a lot more to scare me off, and she could have a lot more than my sunglasses.
Shopping hungry was ill-advised, but then, what were you supposed to bring when you showed up uninvited?
Buying beer before noon probably made me look like an alcoholic. Not that I had time to drink. I had things to do, animals to scream at.
I wasn’t supposed to see my girlfriend without her makeup, but I’d ignore that one more often.
I would take care of her. Watch movies with her that I hate, on VHS tapes that barely work. Wash and replace her puke bucket. And though I couldn’t cure her, I’d still protect her from sunglasses-stealing moose.