how to be a sap: a commentary

by tobias crabtree

when i was twenty two, when i heard someone talk about how they heard a story or something and it made them cry, i would laugh to myself. oh yeah, i had cried, like when my gramps died, but that’s different. it’s alright to cry over someone dying, like if you know them. i mean, that’s natural…just don’t carry on for too long.

20 plus years of living and i will admit that i have changed. i have been changed by life. oh my, i’ve seen some strong men die. my dear friend on that one night in september, you know the one, and if you don’t, i do. and then that one time at christmas when the rangers from yosemite called, “do you know joe crowe?”…yeah, i remember.

sorrow has no favorite. there are broken hearts all around us. they are lying at the feet of the masses as they hustle to tweet to text to live. we’re a strange animal. we really are, and i’m not just saying that. how can we dodge this mess? how can we live with it?

i have turned into a sap. i’m a former marine. i have hated and hurt. now i drive my mother’s car and listen to npr. i listen to a story of an 80 old woman from utah who captured a fawn when she was a child. against her father’s advice, she kept it and made it a pet and put it in the town christmas play. everyone loved it. the deer was a town mascot and the pride of this lady when she was young.

the deer turned into a buck and soon began to wander. the lady and her sisters would put a bright red scarf on the buck, and a bell, so that he wouldn’t be killed in hunting season. in his first year free he was shot by a local 19 year old fella. he knew it was a pet but he shot it anyway just a few miles from the house of the family that raised it.

so, i wasn’t surprised about the young punk shooting the deer. i also understood the father saying, “that’s what happens when you mess with mother nature.”  but as i drove down the street and heard that hard old woman, still living on the land in the woods of her father, cry for that deer that was shot 70 years ago…well, damn it, that makes me sad. i guess it’s because i realize how long and how much the heart can feel. it’s so wonderful and terrible. that old lady didn’t sob, she only cried…and she said, “don’t tell your audience about the deer getting shot.” she said it was too sad and the kids shouldn’t hear that kind of thing at christmas time. she was just a tough ol’ gal and her heart was still hurting from a little deer she should’a left in the woods of her youth.

so there i was, driving and fighting tears over a story from the radio, and wondering whatever happened to me. i’m a sap. if you need directions on how to get to where i am, just ask. i’m pretty sure i remember how i got here.