Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Definitions: Gruntle Bunny

(1) Someone who makes you feel good, who turns "disgruntled" into its opposite. A friend. A compatriot. A reliable companion who helps you smooth out and cruise through those all-too-frequent unfortunate episodes that come along, like that giant cloud of flies back there.

(2) A small stuffed animal that you take along on backpacking trips, preferably a synthetic one, though if you know a good taxidermist you can get something made to order out of that collection of former pets that has been accumulating in the freezer. If you are that kind of person.

Store-bought companions are usually pocketable and hand-washable without fear of shrinkage or rot, and normally don't attract quite so much attention, but it's your call. Even some big, strong, tall tough guys take along a fuzzy squeaky toy every now and then, just because, though they may be slow to brag about it in public.

(3) A cuddle-buddy.

Maybe you've developed a close relationship with someone, but not quite that kind of relationship. You're good friends in practical terms, without crossing any lines, and even if you do bump shoulders every now and then when the two of you need to share a tiny tent, that isn't a problem. This is someone you understand, who you can talk to, and who you can count on. A genuine pal in the right and true sense.

So when you wake up in the dark, in the middle of the night, on one of those nights when you do need to share a tent, and you know that your friend is there, you may be only half awake but you are still completely aware that you have nothing to fear because your best buddy is close by.

And then you hear a gentle snuffling. Feel movement, a fleeting touch. Breath on your face. Light, gentle breath. A tongue runs over your lips. Then your lips feel other lips, and behind them are teeth. Pointy teeth, at which time you remember that no, you actually are going solo this trip.

And then you realize it's even worse than the first horrified thought that scampered across your dawning consciousness. You realize that something that shouldn't be there is there, inside the tent with you, and by now it has climbed up onto your chest and is getting insistent, intrigued by that faint trace of tuna you didn't quite wash off after supper.

Go ahead now, reach for your squeaky toy. See if that helps.