Monday, April 11, 2011

COLUMN: Chupacabra

When I first considered purchasing my own home last year, I sat back and tried to form a gameplan for every future challenge that would come my way. I thought about lawn care, snow removal, electrical problems, mortgage payments… you name it, I was braced for it. I bought my house confident and secure in my ability to handle any problems that may come along, or at least in my ability to pick up a phone and call someone overpriced who could handle it for me.

But in all of my fantasizing about lightning strikes, burglaries, and broken dishwashers, I somehow failed to form a contingency for CORPSE REMOVAL.

Have you guys seen a compulsive little show on SyFy called "Destination: Truth"? It's TV crack and I'm a junkie. Like its sister show, "Ghost Hunters," D:T features investigators who go traipsing around with video cameras and an assortment of gadgets in hopes of capturing proof of the unexplained. But instead of wandering through dark buildings seeking the supernatural, Destination: Truth concerns itself with even more outlandish creatures: from Yetis to aliens, Nessies to Leprechauns, D:T is a one-stop for mythical monster hunting.

There seems to be only one condition to the Destination Truthiverse: If you've got a bogeyman in your suburban backyard, they'll probably take a pass (which is bad news for me as you're about to read.) D:T hunts down all kinds of creepy crawlies, but only if they crawl around the most desolate, exotic, and entirely out-of-the-way places in the world.

The show's host -- a snarky, Indiana Jones wannabe named Josh Gates -- informs viewers of reports about an unusual creature terrifying the villagers of Randomtown, usually a remote island, nomadic campsite, or abandoned Chilean mountain mine only accessible by hot air balloon. The monster is usually fanged, often winged, indescribably powerful, and invariably carniverous. Then the show follows Gates and his team as they fly, drive, pedal, paddle, repel, and hike to the middle of nowhere.

Do they ever find anything? Nope -- just more of the same "OMG SOMETHING MOVED" or "I HEAR A WEIRD NOISE" that's kept "Ghost Hunters" in business for a decade now. But the show is edited in such a fantastic way that you are ABSOLUTELY CONVINCED that every rustle in the bushes has GOT to be some kind of vorpal ManBearPig ready for dinner.

This brings us to the other morning. I woke up to newly-fallen snow and set out early for some shoveling. As I stood on my porch surveying the task at hand, I happened to look down at the bushes surrounding the front of my house. "That's funny," I thought to myself. "Those twigs over there look just like animal legs." And those twigs were attached to another altogether larger twig that strangely looked exactly like a torso. And two more leg twigs… and, umm, a tail twig, and…

Ewwwww. It WAS an animal. And "was" was the appropriate word, because this fella wasn't sleeping. It was a frozen dead critter-sicle. My stomach churned as I realized this sort of thing was now my responsibility to clean up. Yes, I know, I'm supposedly a man, and both stereotype and evolution dictate that my role is to shoot cute and fuzzy animals with arrows and proudly display my kill to the tribe. Screw that. Dead animals are ucky and I'm not ashamed to say it.

But what WAS this belly-up buddy in my bushes? My outdoorsman instinct and years of classroom training took over and I performed the most exacting scientific methodology possible: I poked it with the longest stick I could find.

Now, I realize that you probably didn't pick up today's Arts & Living section with the intent of vomiting, so I'll keep this description blessedly short. My newfound former critter had brown fur, a wiry rat-like tail, and what appeared to be muscular, over-developed hind legs. It was too big for a rat yet too small for an opossum. This left only one conclusion: I was staring at the legendary chupacabra, the Puerto Rican goat-sucker of lore.

Thanks to Destination: Truth, I knew all about the chupacabra. With eyewitness reports claiming resemblances from a small bear to a kangaroo to a spiny reptile, this "mythical" creature has been blamed for mysterious vampiric livestock deaths throughout Latin and North America -- and I was positive one of them was now lying dead in my bushes. All I needed to do was see the head to bear witness to its goat-sucking fangs…

That's when it got kinda gross. This thing, whatever it was, was fully intact -- as if it were pleasantly strolling around my bushes and thought, "Well, then, here's a fine place to die." Except when I poked it with my poking stick, it rolled over -- and where the head SHOULD be, nothing remained but a skull. Two immediate theories sprung to mind:

Theory #1: I have found a mythical creature far scarier than any description of the chupacabra, and I hate to tell you all that our town may be plagued by giant death-rats with skulls for heads.


Theory #2: I should stop worrying about this gross dead thing in my yard and instead worry about whatever ate its face off. There's a good chance I was right here in my living room watching Destination: Truth while ManBearPig was right outside my window chomping on hors d'rat head.

I decided then and there what my best move would be: never speak of it again and just go about my business living a life wherein face-eating monsters are NOT stalking the perimeter of my home. Like I said, I'm confident and secure in my ability to handle most any crisis, or at least my ability to pick up the phone and call someone to do it for me.

That's why I called my dad… who graciously came over and sent my critter-sicle to Destination: Trash Can. I suppose a braver man would have handled it himself. But YOU try watching a marathon of "Destination: Truth" and then go carcass-disposing and see how much you like it. You show me on my mortgage where it says I'm responsible for chupacabra clean-up and I'll man up. Until then, I remain your humble, yet fairly wussy, homeowner.

No comments: