I do my best to avert my eyes. After four days on the road, too much imagery of animal carnage can paralyze me. It happened on a cross-Canada trip I took several years ago. It’s why I don’t drive between dusk and dawn. Too risky. A car’s headlights must be as blinding as stage lights to a creature accustomed to prowling in darkness. An animal doesn’t stand a chance when faced with a light source that’s traveling 75 miles an hour. Especially when that source is a semi.
But even Mary in her Mustang, driving a tad under the speed limit in broad daylight, would have posed great danger to deer. She was probably distracted after her breakup. Any delay in braking or swerving and a deer goes down. Even a swerve can prove fatal if animal and driver react in the same direction. So, yeah, I’d want to inspect Mary’s fender. No free pass for America’s sweetheart.
It’s true that I made it without downing a deer. Maybe Mary managed, too. Maybe all the wildlife kept her alert and distracted her from the schmuck who couldn’t commit. (To Mary Richards, for gosh sake!) Maybe she had a special connection with animals. It’s not a stretch to compare her with Snow White. Not a stretch for me anyway. So let’s cross our fingers and at least make believe no deer suffered despite all that roadside evidence to the contrary.
There was other inevitable carnage. My windshield revealed a relentless siege from the sky. The splatter marks showed that the air raids were foolhardy but there was no cease-fire. It took driving in Minnesota for me to realize my new car had never been stocked with windshield wiper fluid. (Or maybe I was pressing all the wrong buttons.) I had to squint through a drying Jackson Pollock canvas, exploding insects standing in for paint. My photos, trying to emulate Mary’s drive to Minneapolis, as seen in the familiar opening of each “Mary Tyler Moore Show” episode, have cloudy spots in the frame. Nothing wrong with my phone cam lens. Just a mix of bug splatter and bird poop. Maybe even bird splatter. There was one rather noisy splotch. Hummingbird? Sparrow? Perhaps a Minnesota mosquito.
I drove on, wracked with guilt. I tried to console myself. No deer suffered on my account. I feel good about that. Relieved, at least. But I arrived in Minneapolis a mass murderer.
Just like Mary Richards.