THE WORLD ACCORDING TO HOOTER MCCORMICK -- ONE MAN'S TRASH. . .

by: Wes Ishmael

Anyone who has followed Hooter McCormick for long understands that he has a unique history and affiliation with armadillos. Years ago, he'd heard from someone who was supposed to know how South African ranchers tried to get rid of baboons.

Supposedly, they've been known to soak feed the baboons favor in alcohol. Like a tee-totaler on a binge, the baboons don't have to eat much of the feed before they're three sheets to the wind, making it easy to catch some of them and paint them white. When they sober up, the sight of these bleached monkeys scares their brethren so bad that they flee, followed frantically by the painted ones wondering what all the fuss is about. Soon enough the baboons have chased themselves away.

In a tight financial pinch at the time, Hooter saw no reason why the same thing couldn't be done with armadillos. He had envisioned the method as a cheap and effective service he could sell to city folks looking for ways to get rid of the unwanted pests known for ripping up lawns and gardens.

The results of his experimentation were dubious at best, except for the fact they ended up helping him scare the bejeebers out of a wayward animal rights activist who was on his trail at the time.

Now, between the drought, short cattle supplies and obscene equity requirements, Hooter was reconsidering his original idea from a different vantage point.

That and the fact that Aunt Pinky had threatened him with guarding her garden and flowers around the clock if he couldn't finally concoct away to keep the ubiquitous armadillo pests away.

“Spring's just around the corner. You best get your thinkin' cap on,” she told him.

So, he did.

Looking Opposite for Answers

“Before, it was all about making the armadillos undesirable, so that the others would chase them, that's why it failed,” Hooter explained to Cousin Charlie.”

“That and the fact that none of the armadillos seemed to notice or care what color each other was,” said Charlie.

“That's beside the point,” said Hooter, warming up to the notion. “The best way to get rid of them is to make everyone want one.”

“Huh?”

“Imagine, if the national news started ignoring that Yankee groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, and instead started wondering about how the annual pilgrimage of a noble armadillo affected the weather outlook.”

Hooter was referring, of course, to Ground Hogs Day in Pennsylvania which began as a German tradition.

“For one thing, that's already been taken, like a long time ago,” Charlie pointed out.

“Did Bill Gates let the existence of the typewriter keep him from dreaming?” Hooter asked. “Besides, some other folks are already developing the idea.”

“Huh?”

“It's called Armadillo Day and it happens on February 2, too.”

Hooter explained the nascent Armadillo Day is hosted by The Benevolent Knights Of The Raccoon and officiated by The Lone Star Weatherological Society.

“Our Mission is to Forecast the coming of spring in Texas in defiance of relying on the predictions of a Groundhog in Pennsylvania; a foreign land having no relevance to Texas or Texans,” explains the event's website.

“I've lived here my whole life and I never heard of Armadillo Day,” said Charlie. Thinking this might be one of Hooter's tales, he challenged, “Where's it at?”

“The West Pole.”

“There is no such place as the West Pole.”

“That's where you're wrong, my doubting cousin. In fact, not to be thwarted by physical reality such as the earth rotating about a North-South axis, making a North Pole and South Pole not only possible but intrinsic, the Texas Legislature adopted a congratulatory and honorary resolution in 2007, ‘Recognizing that the presumed site of the West Pole as being in the sovereign State of Texas.' I've done my homework.”

Hooter went on to explain that the West Pole is located at Bee Cave, Texas, about 12 miles west of the state capitol in Austin (this is true, as is Armadillo Day).

“For the record, you might also be interested to know that the nine-banded armadillo, the only species in North America, was named Texas' official state small mammal in 1995. And, you might recall that the mascot for San Saba High School is the armadillo,” Hooter informed Charlie. “His name is Bee Cave Bob.”

“Who?” Charlie looked downright flummoxed, and he knew Hooter better than anyone. “What are you talking about?”

“The name of the armadillo at The West Pole, they call him Bee Cave Bob,” Hooter explained. “Besides, the accuracy of “Bob's” forecast will never likely be any more or less accurate than “Phil's” whose track record—depending on the data you consult—is eerily similar to the flip-a-coin predictions of our local weather forecasters. Again, I've done my research.”

Charlie looked at Hooter the way lots of folks did and thought a while. “And, Bob the armadillo, how exactly does he predict the weather? I assume it's something similar to the groundhog and its shadow?”

“I've not been to the even myself, though I'm planning to go this year,” Hooter said almost as an apology. “As understand it, if ‘Bob' creeps out of his burrow and sees his shadow that means winter will be longer.”

“But armadillos see worse than a one-eyed bat at straight up noon; you know that,” Charlie said. “If there is a shadow, I doubt ‘Bob' is capable of seeing it. Plus, if an armadillo is focused on finding food at the time, you can walk right up one and they won't know you're there. You know that, too. That's why they jump up in the air when they get shocked and before their little legs hit turbo, which helps explain their fascination with becoming speed bumps.”

“True, all of it true,” Hooter agreed. “Again, I ask, how more or less accurate can ‘Bob' be than a prairie rodent too lazy to work?”

Stretching for the Point

“I still don't see what any of this has to do with Aunt Pinky's Garden or your lame-brained idea to sell armadillo eradication services,” Charlie said.

“First off, I'm proposing a solution that offers more than eradication,” Hooter said smugly. “Have you ever known anything that became popular which didn't end up worse for the wear?” Hooter asked. “It's like the cure for high cattle prices being high cattle prices. As soon as something becomes too popular, folks react in such a way that it becomes unpopular.”

“Huh?”

“Think of towns, even states that folks visit and then decide it's so perfect that they'll make it their new home. Before long, they and enough other folks of a similar mindset make it like their old home with all the reasons they wanted to move away to begin with.”

Charlie knew his cousin had a point.

“Besides, I'm not just talking about Armadillo Day,” Hooter said. “I'm talking about getting national exposure for the armadillo racing that remains a rite of passage for some. I'm talking armadillo cookbooks and armadillo pet care manuals.”

“You know that armadillos carry the same bacteria that causes leprosy in humans, right?”

“Indeed I do, Cuz. But a definitive link has never been proven,” Hooter said. “The more popular they get, the more hunted they get and bingo, no more problem. I like to think of it as a strategic extinction program.”







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