The Newcomer

A totally inappropriate urge

by Frances Potts

Have you ever had an urge to do something for which you are totally unfitted? I have, many times.

Recently the silly side of me wanted to answer a Daily Sun News classified ad asking for someone to trim a llama. I wanted to pull my Jeep into that guy's driveway, pull out my new garden clippers and make the acquaintance of that llama.


No idea why.

It was just an impulse. I know nothing about llamas. But on that day, reading that ad, I wanted to be a llama-trimmer. I even envisioned the red print, western-style handkerchief I'd pull out of the back pocket of my Levis to swipe away the llama juice after it spit at me. (I've heard llamas do spit when irritated.) I figured that red hanky would give me an air of authenticity, of someone who'd come prepared, who knew the habits of llamas and was ready, willing and able to deal with one. That red hanky would give the llama owner confidence in my ability to shape up his furry, feisty critter.

My dream of llama trimming never proceeded past pulling out the red hanky, so it certainly never led to a real phone call offering my services.

Being a llama-trimmer hasn't been my only off-beat impulse. I once was tempted to plow my Chevy Corsica right through and over a long row of Harleys lined up side by side outside The Brick Tavern in Roslyn. (I didn't have my Jeep yet, so was driving a Corsica my son had labeled "a grandma's car.") It was just an impulse. I've nothing against motorcycles at all. They just looked so utterly perfect, spaced so evenly apart. I knew they'd go down like dominoes, and I could imagine their burly, tattooed riders spilling out of The Brick, waving their fists at the little, white, grandma car fading into the distance.

Of course, I didn't do it. I am a, grandma.

The motorcycles were a rarity. Usually it is classified ads that ignite my totally inappropriate impulses to be something I'm not. Ads that begged for people to work in Alaska on fishing boats or in slimey canneries had me mentally shopping for long rubber boots and counting the loot I'd earn. The same for the cruise boat ad in search of a recreation director. Only for that one I was planning a slightly different wardrobe.

It's to my credit that I don't take these urges seriously. I do know my limitations. I will not be trimming any llamas.

However, I think my penchant for these flights of fancy helped me deal years ago with a teenaged daughter when she took it into her head to answer an ad from a traveling circus looking for an assistant lion-tamer. "Will train willing applicant."

I stood by while she made the call to apply and drove her to Yakima, where we sat through a show in which the big cats snarled, snapped and clawed the air. When my girl seemed a bit hesitant to go on to the after-show interview, I urged her to carry on. I watched the interview from a distance. It didn't take long before we were headed home, all thoughts of traveling circuses behind us.

That day, so long ago, instead of blocking my girl's urge for adventure, I let her find out for herself that the trick to handling an outrageous impulse is to never dream past that red hanky.

. Frances Potts is a retired journalist who spent her career working at several newspapers in Washington state.


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