Life As A Pet Taxidermist

The phone rings and a quick glance makes it clear I probably don’t know the caller but though I know some things I don’t know any details about who is on the line so I answer it.

It is a political survey for a California candidate and though I don’t live there anymore I still have an LA area code and ample reason to spread my California politics in two states.

“We are looking for Mr. Wilner.”

“Great, I am too. He still owes me twenty bucks and an apology for sleeping with my wife.”

There is a short pause followed by a clear intake of air.

“I am supposed to read the script to you but I have to ask you a question. After what he did how can you settle for a simple apology. I would want to do more than that to him.”

“I am 97.3% even with him. As soon as he apologizes we’ll be mostly even.”

There is a brief pause and I fill in the blank.

“Are you having trouble with the math?”

“No, I am very curious. How did you get even with him?”

“Mostly even.”

“Ok, how did you get mostly even?”

Sometimes You Have To Run With The Moon

Some of the people who read I worry about you sent me emails offering support and or offered advice.

I responded to unsolicited advice with a couple of ridiculous responses in which I said sometimes you have to get naked and run with the moon.

Don’t know if the lack of response from one was because I scared them off or if they figured that wacky man proved he is incorrigible.

The other said to remember that some people love me and I thanked them for that. I know it to be true, some people love me.

Doesn’t fix the crap that bothers me or help me work through the stuff that just takes time. I am ok with that, I really am.

But there is a bit of push back there  and I wonder if they insist on pushing because it makes them feel better or if they really know me.

So I push back against them and tell them I had a dream that dad came back as a zombie and I was responsible for making sure he only ate people we didn’t/don’t like.

“That is horrible. How could you possibly think having a zombie father was or is a good thing?”

“Pretty simple. The guy grounded me one time too many. I didn’t lose my Top Siders. They really were stolen and even if the thief isn’t who I thought it was that doesn’t make it ok.”

“Josh, how old were you when this happened?”

“I was 14.”

Editor’s note: I never got grounded for the missing shoes, but occasionally I would hear about it. Hell, I know dad mentioned it this year. So 35 years later those fercockteh shoes made an appearance in conversation.

If that’s not proof that Wilner men can hold onto certain thoughts and ideas I don’t know what is.

“Josh have you thought about seeing someone to talk about your dreams?”

“You mean like an agent so that I can pitch the idea for a vengeful zombie father who eats the enemies of his children?”

“Joshua, I am serious. That dream is very disturbing.”

“It is not half as disturbing as discovering that your vengeful zombie dad still has a semiactive digestive system. Do you know how potent his flatulence was? It was bad when he was alive, but in death it ought to be considered a biological weapon.”

“Joshua, you are clearly upset.”

“Ya think? My dad just died. His birthday was last week. I am fine with saying that sometimes it bothers me a little bit. Both your parents are alive. You don’t understand yet what it means to be part of this club, But you will.”

“That is mean. You don’t have to be vicious when someone tries to help.”

“If your idea of helping me is trying to assuage whatever demons you’re wrestling with you are right. I probably am going to be a little harsh in my response. You’re tone deaf, slow and misunderstand who are you dealing with.”


You don’t need to hear/read the entire conversation to appreciate my position nor do I require validation for my anger.

Am I upset?


Do I miss dad?

Duh? I write about him often. Did you think that I might be processing it this way. It is healthier than walking into a place, climbing up on the table and screaming “And so it begins!”

I think it is safe to say I am far less likely to spend any time in jail/prison or require a week of Advil and bed rest to recover.

Believe me, admitting that I can’t bring the heat like I used to is punishment enough.

The next time someone doesn’t follow my train of thought and tries to blame it on non-sequiturs I am going to start quoting song lyrics.

Maybe I’ll start with this song or this one.

But How Did You Get Even

The surveyer knows they ought to follow the script but I have painted a picture of a train wreck and they can’t help themselves.

“What does it mean to get mostly even?”

“Are you supposed to ask me what I do for a living?”


I say ok and provide a dramatic pause.

“I am now a Licensed Pet Taxidermist which is a big relief because I spent a lot of years as an unlicensed one and that was very stressful. It is hard to stay one step ahead of the city inspectors and those crazy PETA people.”

I hear a long intake of breath followed by a series of “um, uh, I don’t know what to say.”

“Do you know how crazy those PETA people are? They are always trying to infiltrate the corporate offices of S.T.U.F.F., ya know that is the organization that issues our licenses.

Anyway, I shouldn’t tell you what we did to them when we caught them.”

A soft pause precedes the, “tell me how did you get even first.”

“He had nine dogs that he had to feed. Now he has 6.”

“OHMYGOD. Why only 6!”

“Because he slept with my wife. They shared a bed and one third of his body touched hers, so I could only take on one third of his dogs. It wouldn’t have been fair to do more.”

“Sir, that is sick. You abused those animals!”

“No, I made them look larger than life. I made them into their best selves and now they’ll never be forgotten. Isn’t that what we all want, to never be forgotten. Ask the Egyptians about their pyramids.”

There is a loud scream, followed by cursing and the phone goes dead. Part of me is disappointed because I never got to answer whatever questions he was going to ask me about candidates and their positions.

Maybe it is best, I don’t live there anymore so I probably should focus on where I do live.

About That Elephant In The Room

I am not really a licensed pet taxidermist and I cannot confirm nor deny having told anyone I am.

Can’t confirm nor deny having told someone else I am an expert in Glossolalia.

But I can confirm some days are harder than others and that dad and I discussed it. I can also confirm that part of me wants to wait to go back to LA because the first trip back will probably reinforce the truth I already know.

He is gone.

But I can also confirm it won’t stop me from going. I wasn’t raised to quit, give up or run from hard stuff.

Those of you who know me well know I am relentless about some things and that I keep coming. This will be no different.

Just going to take a little time and I am ok with that. I give myself permission to mourn and grieve in my own manner.

And that includes a PSA to those of you who find it hard, uncomfortable or awkward to talk to someone who is grieving.

All you need to do is say you are sorry. It is that simple and that easy.

P.S. If you haven’t guessed I like writing these ridiculous stories. I figure it is an easy way to make this extra energy into a productive use of my time.

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