Norman: The Book-Eating Goat

It was 34 degrees out, I was 22 years old, and I was sitting in the snow.

Well, okay.  I’m exaggerating.  I wasn’t exactly sitting IN the snow – I was technically crouched on the edge of a set of wooden steps, outside a never-used guard shack – only my feet were actually in the snow.

There really wasn’t any reason for me to be crouching in near-freezing temperatures, on rotted wood, in the snow.

It’s just… I had finished feeding the horses, and it was at least 200 feet back to my cabin. The record snowfall made trudging something you had to pay attention to – with two feet of snow, you couldn’t just meander without looking.  it was too easy to fall into troughs, or holes, or other items that hid beneath the pristine, innocent-looking mounds of snow.

So in order to get back to my cabin, I would have to put aside the book I was reading and actually walk there.

That would take at least three minutes.

Did I mention it was my first time reading through the Da Vinci Code.  Whether you approve of the plot or not, Dan Brown knows how to write a good suspense tale, and I was at an incredibly crucial moment.

Having to wait three minutes while waiting to figure out a crucial plot element in a book is an ETERNITY.

So…. instead of walking back to my cabin and reading the remainder of the book while sprawled on my couch in luxurious warmth, I was crouched on the rotted steps with my feet in the snow and my nose turning numb.

Keep in mind this was back in 2003/2004 – Amazon wasn’t really a “thing” like it is now, and when you live hours from the nearest bookstore, the first time through any book will grip you like that, much less a bestseller like the Da Vinci Code.

I was just reaching the critical part of the scene when….

Norman happened.

Norman was a sweet, bottle-fed goat who followed people around wherever they went.  I do mean everywhere – somewhere along the lines Norman had decided he was a human, and that the company of horses was no match for hanging out with people.  It was cute at first, but eventually became a little annoying.  “Wranglers, the goat is out again” was a familiar cry coming over the ranch radio – that goat could slip out of everything.

Still – he had silky white fur and large, intelligent, amber eyes so it was easy to forgive him anything.

Until that day.  That day, Norman crossed a line.

I still own that copy of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code. Did you know my copy falls open to the page that gives away critical information that’s crucial to the entire book (you know, the whole Last Supper thingie).
It falls open to that page because as I was sitting on steps in the snow…. just as I got to that particular page….
 Norman, came up behind me and ripped the page out of the book and started eating it.
It was like a scene from a cartoon.  I was in the mountains, trapped in by an epic snowfall, with no access to a replacement book….. and Norman had torn out the most important page of the entire book and was calmly eating it.
Look, I’m not proud of how I got the paper back, but let’s just say that I managed to make Norman understand that it was very, very important he allow me to retrieve the paper from his mouth.  The good news is that with a little bit of cleaning and a little bit of scotch tape, I was able to restore the page to my book and finish the story.  I forgave him for tearing my brand new book and trying to eat a critical page, and he forgave me for pouncing on him and making the mountains ring with the echoing cry of “NORMAAAAAAAAAAAAAN” as I retrieved it from his wet, sticky little mouth.

The bad news is that…. well, if you’re ever over at my house and if you ever want to read that particular book…. well, I just hope you already know the big reveal, because the book now opens permanently to that page.

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