Wednesday, December 2, 2009

The civet

Ever since I stayed in that inn in Vermont last summer, I’ve been having nightmares involving civets. I open my closet and there’s a civet peering out of one of my cowboy boots. A civet is chewing on my toes. There’s a civet under the stairs and it has had a litter of about 80 little civets, all staring at me in the dark with their beady red eyes. Last night I dreamed I opened the freezer to get out some frozen spinach and there was a frozen civet in the freezer and it had eaten all the food before it froze to death. Even dead civets, frozen stiff, are terrifying.

The inn in Vermont was idyllic. My room was lovely—it had a big bed with a whimsical canopy of bent twigs, a stone fireplace, a patio, and a Jacuzzi tub. But on the mantle above the stone fireplace was a stuffed animal. Not a pleasant little furry toy stuffed animal, but a previously living thing that had been stuffed by a taxidermist. It was a ferret-like beast with piercing red eyes and sharp teeth. I arbitrarily decided it was a civet. Why would the innkeeper think that it was a charming addition to an otherwise peaceful room to have a small predator in the room? I couldn’t sleep with the civet looking at me. Even in the dark I felt its presence. So I covered it with a towel. I wanted to take the thing out of the room and put it on the patio, but I was afraid the innkeepers would throw me out for breaking some sort of rule.

Maybe it was a Vermont tradition to welcome guests with small predators. Although I didn’t bother to look through the information binder in my room until the day before I checked out of the inn, I found a long, long list of rules. For example, it was FORBIDDEN (in all caps) to light any candles in the room. I had brought my little tranquility candles with me and lit them at night when I was soaking in the Jacuzzi, so I was already in trouble. Neighbors had banged on the adjoining wall at 9 p.m. when I was playing banjo. I was playing softly, I swear. So between the banjo and the candles, I was already a troublesome guest. I had to sleep with that damned civet in the room for four nights. No wonder I’m having nightmares.

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