I am poised to eat rattlesnake.
It is part of my birthday celebration and on the menu at an historic eating and drinking emporium in Denver. We are sitting at a table where Frankie Avalon ate last night. On the wall next to us is memorabilia from the legendary Wild West Show, including, to the right of my spoon, what claims to be the last receipt signed by Buffalo Bill.
I see not a vacant inch on the walls of this nooked and crannied place. It is swathed in a great menagerie of antiquated oddities—buffalo, deer, antelope, mountain lions, moose, birds. And hundreds of photographs and clippings in partial credit to the famous who have dined here since 1893: Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Sitting Bull’s nephew, Ronald Reagan, Bob Hope, Charlton Heston. Hung above the wine rack and next to a bear is a whale’s penis, sent to the restaurant’s owner by an appreciative diner from Antiques Roadshow. An organ out of water, it is the lone depiction of far-away aquatic life in this hall of mountain taxidermy.
Japanese seeps in from across the room. The two men speaking it are carving their buffalo steaks with gusto, as do the table of roustabouts to their left. The table next to us looks to be a first date. A family of six sits in the large round table and an older couple speaking German are next to them. We are a cultural smorgasbord in the parlor of a Wild West time capsule. All dining happily, undeterred by the light rail train that runs a stone’s throw from the front porch or the washed-up housing units that touch the parking lot.
I bolster myself with another sip and ponder this: Is it coincidence that I am surrounded by relics of vanished time and a changed place as I celebrate yet another birthday?
I think not.
Another year as fast as that.
Oh, the things I still want to do. Live in Europe for a while, see New Zealand, hike to the top of Mt. Bierstadt, make an excellent Crème Brulee, see Lake Louise, eat at the French Laundry for a second time, swim competitively in my 60s.
That’s not near the whole list. There’s things I want to do that I won’t even speak aloud. Some are a tad intimidating, some seem better suited to the younger, some are downright daunting. That part of my list usually hides behind the easier and more safe options I like to consider. But now and again, usually when I am unprepared and least expect it, a scheme uncoils and slithers across my path and hisses and buzzes and snatches my attention.
But is there still time?
I sip my wine again, look around the cluttered room and take a bite of rattlesnake. It’s just a small bite, but it’s a full nibble of courage washed down with a sip of bravery gone wild.
Surprisingly , it is mostly bland. Tame really, as it should be without rattles and venom.
What better way to turn another year older than to dig right in?
“How did it get late so soon?”
(It has been suggested to me that I often take nice and ordinary subjects and twist them into complicated and convoluted philosophical works of post length, but this is not necessarily true. I also tend to work every day photographs into convoluted philosophical works in post length. As you see, this particular post has a bit of both )