I knew I could kill. That was a revelation very early in motherhood. I had no idea such an instinct lay dormant in me until labor and birth awakened it: I knew that if something or someone came at my baby to harm him, I could kill. That was more than a revelation; it was a shock. I’m pretty well known as a wimp, and proud to say it.
Recently I had cause to reflect on my latent killer instinct. I was driving on a lazy street with little traffic, thank goodness, when I spotted an obstacle in the middle of my lane. An ugly, greasy, stupid, arrogant, fat, feathered hog. Yes, a Canadian goose. The Protected. Grudgingly I slowed and, as an inveterate non-honker, fumbled for my horn. One good honk deserves another, right?
But he stood fast, immobile, intractable, feigning deafness. He was taller than the hood of my SUV and that single beady little eye was fixed on me. I double-dog dare you! it said. I sensed federal agents hiding in the bushes, taping the encounter. Nonetheless, I inched forward, leonine, taut, tempted.
Closer, closer. Was he scared? Not a bit. It was a stand-off. SUV vs goose. Would one flattened goose really be such a devastating loss to the planet?
I don’t know if my front bumper made contact — I hoped not because then I’d have to wash it — but it was close. What arose in me was perhaps not the same thing as mother’s instinct so much as the preference not to be bested by this girth-bound bird-brain, but still the urge was strong even as he eventually waddled off in antagonizing slow-motion.
We will meet again.