It was a dark October early evening when Jane picked me up in her pride-and-joy white camaro for our weeknight gym ritual. It was the ‘80s so we were dressed in our “Flashdance” gym outfits: torn paint-splattered sweatshirts and sweatpants, and of course the obligatory sweatbands around our heads. We were on a small town winding road listening to music and yapping, when suddenly something big hit the windshield—little screams escaped from us both, “What was that?!”
Jane pulled over and we walked back to what we thought was the point of impact. There in the dark sat an owl, looking at us with accusatory eyes, by a lump on the ground.
“Oh, God,” Jane wailed, “I hit an owl! What should we do?”
I tried to take charge, “I don’t think it is dead; why don’t we see if we can take it to the Natural Science center down the street.”
Jane squinted at me, “How do we do that? I don’t know about you, but I’m not going to pick it up. That other owl looks like it wants to kill me!”
I thought for a minute; I could see the lights of house down a nearby driveway. “Let’s go to that house and see if they have a shoebox or something to put it in and maybe some gloves to pick it up.”
We walked down the driveway to the house set back from the street and rang the doorbell. A harried-looking woman answered the door. She looked us up and down disapprovingly. “Yes,” she questioned us impatiently. Jane and I looked at each other: you—no you.
“We just hit an owl,” I blurted out. She looked at me with squinty, suspicious eyes, so I continued, “Do you have a shoebox so we can take it to the science center?” She said nothing and continued to look at me; I started to realize how strange it sounded. We continued to look at her with concerned innocent eyes. She finally decided to give us the benefit of the doubt, “Just wait a minute…I’ll get a flashlight and a box.”
Jane and I started to doubt ourselves. “This is pretty weird, isn’t it?” Jane whispered. I gave her a sideways glance as the woman returned and then turned to a curious child behind her, “You stay here; I’ll be right back.”
As we walked down the driveway I started to feel unsure and nervous. I have never liked people walking behind me, but somehow I also had a bad feeling. “It was down here,” Jane said, leading the way. We were taking the woman farther away from her home. “Wasn’t it?” Jane muttered to me. We kept walking…there was nothing there. “It was right here,” I impassioned. I turned to look at the woman. She pursed her lips; she looked white-hot angry. She didn’t say another word; she took her flashlight and her box and stomped back to her house.
“But it was here…” Jane whined.
“Must have been stunned,” I mused. I suddenly thought that if we could have read the woman’s mind, she would have been assuming we were pranksters or worse, and swearing all the way back down her driveway. If this were a comic, I could see the cartoon bubble full of symbols. We looked at each other and started laughing, “I can’t believe it,” I said.
Jane must have had the same picture in her mind because she began to laugh even harder. Laughter can be contagious and dibilitating; it was difficult to walk back to the car.
“What must she think?!” I blurted. I suddenly saw us as the woman must have seen us — teenagers dressed in ripped clothes trying to get her out of her house…so our delinquent boyfriends, hidden in the woods, could rob her. We laughed all the way to the gym…that could only happen to us.