Why did the ar­madillo cross the road?

The Covington News - - THE SECOND OPINION - DAVID MCCOY COLUM­NIST David McCoy, a no­to­ri­ous sto­ry­teller and proud Yel­low Jacket, lives in Cov­ing­ton and can be reached at davm­c­coy@bell­south.net.

“Why did the ar­madillo cross the road?” is a trick ques­tion, if I judge ar­madillo road cross­ing skills by what I’ve seen on the in­ter­state this sum­mer.

In fact, I don’t think any ar­madillo has ever suc­cess­fully crossed the road. All of the ar­madil­los I’ve seen were dead as door-nails, flipped up­side down on the shoul­der, right next to the bro­ken bot­tles, dis­carded cig­a­rette butts, and man­gled chunks of re­treads that blew off the big rigs. On a trip to Madi­son, I saw dead ar­madillo af­ter dead ar­madillo, spaced roughly as if they were lit­tle mile mark­ers with tails. I imag­ined some­one giv­ing di­rec­tions to an outof-towner. “Yeah, go down Jack­son Road a piece, un­til you come to the ar­madillo in front of the el­e­men­tary school. Turn left, then go past three-and-a-half ar­madil­los. My house will be on the right. You can’t miss it, un­less a buz­zard made off with one of ‘em.”

The en­tire time I was grow­ing up, I saw only one ar­madillo. We were prob­a­bly on the way to Florida when we saw , and I’m sur­prised we even knew what it was. Maybe there was a talk­ing ar­madillo on one of our Satur­day morn­ing car­toons. Who’s to say I didn’t read a comic book about an ar­madillo with su­per pow­ers?

Any­way, we knew what it was. The only thing stranger than see­ing that lone ar­madillo was the time we heard that the man who ran the gas sta­tion at the top of the hill had an alien on dis­play in a big bucket near the pumps. We all raced up to see what he had, but it turned out to be a bloated jel­ly­fish he’d caught in Florida. Ev­ery­one was al­ways go­ing to Florida back then. Some of us saw ar­madil­los. No one ever saw a real alien.

Now, ar­madil­los are all over the place. Lit­er­ally. Their ar­mor pro­tects them from bumps, but not from bumpers. Here’s a bit of ar­madillo; here’s an­other piece; there’s yet an­other. You feel sorry for th­ese lit­tle, oth­er­worldly crea­tures. You won­der why they can’t make it across the road. You won­der why they don’t just go back to Texas or the cen­ter of the earth, or the moon, or wher­ever it is they hail from. You won­der if you should scrape one off the road, put him in a bucket and scare a few el­e­men­tary school­ers. You wouldn’t even have to drive to Florida to do it.

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