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Afternoon of a Fawn
Roy Blount
September 16, 1991
If it weren't for Jessie Betts's skating dress, the author wouldn't have had this close encounter of the deer kind
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September 16, 1991

Afternoon Of A Fawn

If it weren't for Jessie Betts's skating dress, the author wouldn't have had this close encounter of the deer kind

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Could you get rabies from a deer? But he wasn't showing any interest in biting me. I had never in fact heard of a deer bite. You could get Lyme disease from a deer tick, I knew, but I had never heard of anyone getting deer ticks directly from a deer.

At any rate, there we were. I felt strong enough to hold him at...well, at bay, didn't seem to be the expression. To a standstill. But for how long?

Enough. I had things to do. I gave the deer a brisk shove, freed my hands and flapped my pants at him.

I was wearing shorts. From the tennis. I had my long pants tucked under my arm. Waving my pants at him required that I push off and do a quick snatch-and-wave, and I didn't get a very good grip on my pants, and my tennis racket—which was also tucked under my arm—slipped down between my elbow and my hip, and what with one thing and another, my pants wound up on the ground. The deer, recoiling slightly, glanced down at them.

I didn't feel secure about bending down to pick them up. The deer butted at them tentatively. Then he lifted his head. My pants were hooked on one of his horns.

Oh, Lord, I thought. This deer is going to run off into the forest with my pants. Containing my wallet. And car keys. How can I get Jessie's red sequin skating dress to her in time for her competition?

I grabbed my racket and hit at my pants. They came loose. I didn't feel secure about bending down to pick them up, though. The deer surged forward. I grabbed his horns again, in the process dropping my tennis racket.

And there we were.

If you are attacked by a shark or a bear, I had heard, your best bet is to punch it in the nose. But it is hard to get a blow to the head in when you're in a clinch. I did manage to frap the deer's nose with my knuckles. It felt like—well, you don't get any gratification from hitting a deer in the nose. And the deer didn't seem to mind it. I twisted his head one way, and then the other. This he seemed actually to relish.

I decided to bulldog him down. I pushed his head all the way to the ground—lowering myself, in the process, to one knee. I didn't get his head turned over, though, the way rodeo guys do a steer's. His head was on the ground, but the rest of him was under no pressure to follow it. All four of his feet remained planted. And what if I did get him tumped over—those sharp toes thrashing around. Then I noticed that his points were now pointing at my groin. I stood up again, and his head came with me.

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