Someone told us there had been a deer on K Street the other day.
I turned to Nick. "Do deer bite?"
"Do they bite? Like, would they bite you?"
"They don't like people. They'd run away. I think you're safe from the deer."
"But a rabid deer? It could bite you, right?"
"Goddammit, Lis, are we back to rabies again?"
The truth is, we'd never left. He'd just had a brief respite.
I don't know if you heard that NPR story a few weeks ago about the woman who got attacked by a rabid, 30-pound raccoon? (Which I would link to except that I can never, ever seem to find the NPR program I want when I go looking.)
Anyway, she fought and fought and finally called her husband and son with her cell phone. They had to beat it something like 45 times with a tire iron before it died. Because rabies affects your central nervous system, the animal had much more adrenaline and strength than it otherwise would.
And I was thinking, Betty is just a little tiny thing and she spends a lot of time in the back yard. There's no way she could fight off a rabid raccoon. I immediately Googled. If you start looking, rabies is everywhere.
And then, then, when I wasn't even looking! There was that story about the woman in Arizona who ran a mile back to her car with a rabid fox clinging to her arm. She chucked it in the trunk and drove to the hospital, and then it jumped out and bit an animal control officer. They both had to get rabies shots.
I don't know how much you know about rabies, but once you start exhibiting symptoms, it's almost always fatal.
Plus, apparently you can get bitten by a rabid bat in your sleep and not even know it. So if you wake up and there's a bat in your room, you should assume there's the possibility of rabies.
Things like this terrify me. Even though I never see bats. But that's the thing. You might not even see it coming. And then suddenly you can't swallow and you're disoriented and then you're dead. See how easily it could happen?
I realize that I have a tendency to fixate. And that I come up with implausible scenarios. But, like eating the whole pint of ice cream, I can't seem to stop myself. Nick's patience has been worn thin.
"What about a bird? Birds could get rabies, right?"
These questions come out of the blue. Or as we're falling asleep.
He always takes a deep breath. "It would have to be bitten by something. Birds can fly, remember?"
"Right. But what if the bird ate a piece of a dead animal that had rabies? Or came into contact with the saliva. It's possible, right?"
"Yes, fine, yes, it's possible."
"And then the bird could swoop down and peck at you. . ."
"Can we stop with the rabies?"