A Note from Fatty: Thanks to everyone who yesterday left comments of support; I appreciate them. Susan’s doing considerably better now.
Last week, Dug, Karl and I headed out to ride some of the Corner Canyon trail we usually ignore — trail that’s good, but since it’s lower, we don’t use much once the higher stuff is available.
I led out for the first climb, because I’m the strongest and most handsome rider of the three of us and have undisputed claim to the alpha male role. It wasn’t even a question, really. I just took my position at the front and began the climb, the other two falling obediently into line.
This means, of course, that I was the first to see the skunk. Standing in the trail. Facing us, tail raised, eyes defiant.
Challenging my authority.
Taking control of the situation, I calmly locked both my front and back brakes, stopping a mere 20 feet away from the skunk. Close enough that it knew I had no fear of it, and would not be deterred.
Never one to back down, I said to the others, “Let’s turn around. There are other trails.”
Dug, however, wanted to press forward. I allowed him to, delegating to him the lead position.
Dug shooed away the skunk by tossing small branches in its vicinity. Immediately, I could see the cleverness of my plan of delegating the “shoo-ing” task to Dug, for the skunk walked off the trail.
And then it re-appeared back on the trail, approximately six feet further up ahead. And commenced to wander idly up that trail, at a pace which can accurately and eloquently described as “slow.”
After quickly assessing, evaluating, stack-ranking and otherwise considering all possible options, I proposed a bold course of action: “Let’s turn around. This trail belongs to the skunk now.”
By this, I of course meant that I chose to let the skunk use the trail of which I was in command.
Dug, however, did not want to leave. As wise as Solomon, I therefore told him, “Well then, getting the skunk off the trail is your problem.”
Dug walked after the skunk, tossing very small rocks and branches — hopefully enough to startle without actually seeming to threaten the skunk — to the side of the animal.
Slowly, the skunk disappeared around a bend. In slow-motion pursuit, dug…um…pursued.
For minutes, I took command of the situation by remaining where I was. Karl stayed in position, ready to do as he was told.
Then Dug reappeared.
I do not consider it a repudiation of my bravery to say that I was tentative in breathing when Dug first came back.
“The skunk went off the trail, finally,” said Dug, when I asked him to report. “I think it’s OK to go on ahead.”
We rode on. I rode in third position, since a leader must sometimes lead by pushing, not pulling, his troops along.
Also, I kept my fingers on my brakes and my eyes peeled, ready to execute a quick 180 should I smell even the most trivially skunklike odor.
After all, I am a great and inspiring leader, but I am also no fool.