Dead Lions

Keep America beautiful. Don’t be a litterbug…

When I was a kid, public service announcements stressed, “Keep America beautiful. Don’t be a litter bug.” Fines for littering can’t be taken seriously.

The trash, along our highways, was diverse. A hat, understandably, could be blown from your head and out an open window. A shoe was less clear unless you drove barefoot and kept your shoes on the dashboard where speed and the right trajectory forced the shoe out the window. With the price of athletic shoes, I wondered why no one went back for the mate. I once spotted a naked guy on the side of the road. I hoped that was a freakish, once in a lifetime thing.

Dead animals were regulars along our highways. Do animals goad each other in games of chicken? “Come on Bucky, if you don’t take on the next pickup truck, you’re a weenie.”

Last week I received my answer to the dead animal question. Lions, animals are being chased into traffic by lions.

While we traveled on a rare weekend away, my husband said, “Did you see that? I swear it was a lion carcass.”

Travel, for us, meant a two hour trip to the mountains not the Serengeti. I thought Bobcat or mangled deer.

But no, my husband meant real African lion and wanted to go back. And what? Take pictures to post on the internet? At best, we’d be known as the rednecks that discovered a new species called caninous lioness. Until DNA analysis came back, and then we’d be known as the dumb asses who took pictures of dead pets.

“Come on,” he said. “Let’s go back.”

Honestly, I didn’t see the dead animal but suggested, “It might have been someone’s dog.” This wasn’t a lie, but a subliminal message to keep us from shame.

“Yeah, I guess you’re right.”

Damn right, we weren’t going back.

When I joined the garden club, I thought the only thing to soil my hands would be dirt. But I joined a garden club that defined beauty beyond marigolds. Along with planting a community garden, we also bagged trash along a designated stretch of highway.

Garbage viewed at 65 MPH is different when viewed at .001 MPH picking it up. American’s aren’t healthy people. Fast food containers and butts filled my trash bags and apparently people think 65 MPH is a suggestion.

If a Whopper took two hands to hold, who’s steering? Add cell phones and texting, while driving and the next Ford cars should be based on the specs from the vehicles in the Mad Max movies.

Discarded car parts along the road were understandable trash. Until the exhaust system on my Escort was fixed, I couldn’t hear when a piece of car fell off. Tires were different. You’d know if you’ve lost a tire.

People paid fifteen dollars for a bag of heart attack and six dollars for smokes, but wouldn’t pay four dollars to recycle a tire. Instead, tires were tossed along the road and filled with water. Tires became breeding grounds for disease ridden mosquitoes.

Litterbugs then wanted someone to spray insecticide to poison the mosquitoes to keep them safe from disease. But it’s okay if I walked through poisoned grass and picked up tires and thousands of cigarette butts while being eaten by bugs.

Collecting trash taught me to never look in any container or bag. There won’t be money in it. What seemed like a perfectly good cooler from the outside was in reality someone’s perfectly good toilet on the inside. A red Mustang convertible was never finders/keepers either. Someone always came back for a Mustang even if it needed a transmission.

On our trip to the mountains, we also saw half of a canoe. My husband said, “The other half probably rests in someone’s flower bed with petunia’s spilling from it.”

Before I opened my mouth, he said, “No, we’re not going back.” Damn, we should have photographed the lion.

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