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Opinion >  Column

Paul Turner: Blame the coyote

Humphrey Bogart (1899 - 1957) and Ingrid Bergman (1915 - 1982) star in the Warner Brothers film 'Casablanca', 1942. (Popperfoto)
Humphrey Bogart (1899 - 1957) and Ingrid Bergman (1915 - 1982) star in the Warner Brothers film 'Casablanca', 1942. (Popperfoto)

It’s a famous line from the movie “Casablanca.”

I’m sure you recognize it: “Round up the usual suspects.”

But here’s a question. Around here, just who are the usual suspects?

That is, whom can we blame when something goes missing or we find ourselves in need of a scapegoat?

Coyotes, that’s who.

Oh, I’m sure they aren’t actually guilty in every instance. But can they prove it?

The beauty part about blaming coyotes for nearly everything is it’s quintessentially western and in the Inland Northwest it works in both rural and, to a somewhat lesser extent, urban settings.

Now admittedly, accepting responsibility for our actions might be the more mature thing to do. Sometimes though, it’s easier to just say, “Where did I put my keys … a coyote must have made off with them.”

Or, say, your boss sends you one of those ominous “See me” emails. You can, of course, put on your big boy pants, respond right away and face the consequences. Or you can disavow any knowledge of said email.

“A coyote must have signed on to my computer and deleted it.”

Yes, that’s not exactly telling the truth. But there’s a lot of that going around.

Now in suggesting we blame coyotes for various occurrences, I am not mocking the trickster character of native mythology. I’m just saying that if your cat never came home, well, say no more.

Nor am I wanting to see these creatures demonized. But they’re pretty wily. I think they can handle it.

A few weeks ago, I got a phone message from a local gentleman who wanted to tell me about something he had written about the Battle of the Little Big Horn. I wrote down his name and number, then deleted the message. But then that piece of paper disappeared.

Where could it have gone? I have a theory.

For the birds

Scott and Connie Brunell, of Spangle, discovered a pair of emus in their backyard. The large, flightless birds were eventually reunited with their caretakers, who live a few miles away.

Jenny and John Rose live near Shadle Park. “We are not close to water.”

But the other night, a blue heron alighted in one of their trees.

Old business

My friend Scott Miller shared this.

“When Armstrong walked on the moon in 1969 I was an actor in Pullman’s Summer Palace, which was a summer theater that featured plays from the 19th century. We converted a barn into a theater. The floors were sawdust, the audience sat on bleachers. They were encouraged to boo the villains and cheer the heroes.

“You may remember that the moonwalk actually took place earlier than originally scheduled. We had a TV backstage and were sneaking peaks when we weren’t onstage. When it became apparent that Armstrong was about to leave the Eagle, we stopped the play and put the TV on the stage so the audience could watch.

“Admittedly, those who were attending a play that night were probably not the most enthusiastic NASA junkies, but they all cheered when Armstrong jumped down onto the surface of the moon.

“It was quite a scene, actors in costume and makeup sitting with the audience. But after about 30 minutes or so we resumed the play.”

In the matter of readers’ reaction to a certain classic cartoon confrontation, Marty Fernandez wrote to assure me that I was not alone.

“Yes, I always rooted for the Coyote to catch the Roadrunner. Needless to say, I got mad a lot watching this cartoon.”

I had asked about growth spurts over the summer, and Cheney’s Hank Tiffany recalled his in 1974. “At the end of seventh grade I was 4-feet-11, by the start of eighth I was 5-feet-6 and climbing.”

As he kept getting taller, his pants length couldn’t keep up. “I spent most of the next year hearing, ‘When’s the flood coming?’ ”

Answer: “When the snow melts.”

And finally, Sue Chapin’s youngest daughter was telling her raised-in-Chicago boyfriend about Spokane. Eventually the young woman got around to the subject of marmots.

“He thought she was making them up, trying to trick the city boy,” Sue said.

Don’t you love that? Of course, he wouldn’t be the first to regard marmots as mythical creatures. Though they can seem quite real if they have chewed up your car’s engine hoses.

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