Life’s Funny

Much Ado(e) About Nothing

Loving reflections on deer and dears

By Maria Johnson

A dear friend and I were supposed to get coffee on the morning of Christmas Eve, a pleasant pause in the holiday madness.

She called at 8:30 that morning.

Could she get a rain check?

She and her husband were having people over for dinner that night. To that end, her mate had put a plastic-wrapped frozen turkey in the refrigerator to thaw several days before.

That morning, my friend had opened the refrigerator to find a thawed turkey, all right — and raw poultry fluids leaking all over the refrigerator. The aforementioned spouse had neglected to put the turkey in a dish or bag to catch the runoff. The result was a mess of Scroogian proportions.

My friend and I bumped our coffee date ahead a couple of days and ended the call.

That’s when the text stream started.

“Did I mention that  [husband’s name redacted] is at the gym right now?” my pal wrote. “Merry  Christmas. Insert hearty laugh here.”

I turned to my husband and described the situation.

“Uh-oh,” he said, a concise expression of brotherly empathy with .

I forwarded the comment to my friend.

“OK,” she replied. “That gave ME a hearty laugh. I sent  a photo of the inside of the fridge without elaboration. Did  [child’s name redacted] take care of the dishwasher last night? Nah. So I can’t even get the damn turkey into the sink. Nay! Do not sink into a foul stew on this merry morn! Isn’t this fun? Virtual coffee.”

“Yeah. For me,” I wrote. “I’d be tempted to leave right about now and let them deal with it. Except I think we both know where that would end — with you all eating in a Chinese restaurant tonight.”

“Oh, I thought about it,” she texted back.

It was clear that she was going to stay and clean up the mess.

“There have to be some extra Baby Jesus Reward Club points in here for you,” I assured her.

Minutes ticked by. Another text landed.

“The muck skirted the vegetable bins below the turkey. It’s on the outside, but not the inside,” she wrote.

“Let’s hear it for no salmonella juice in the veggies,” I texted.

“I think the damage is contained for the moment,” she replied. “I might make some cranberry sauce and cookies. It makes more sense to deal with the bird when it’s time to put it in the oven.”

With a keen sense of story, she joked that she’d just delivered me a column for next December. I filed the idea away. You never know.

“ ’Preciate your flexibility and companionship this morning,” she wrote. “Here’s the thing: One Thanksgiving a few years back, I put all the potato peels down the garbage disposal. When my dad arrived,  had his head under the sink, taking the thing apart. Never said a cross word. So after the cranberry sauce is made, I’ll finish the hazmat project. Grace cuts both ways, right?”

I could have waited until next Christmas to tell this story. But somehow I think it makes a better Valentine’s Day story.


Several readers emailed me to comment on last month’s column about Snow White, a young albino deer I saw on the greenway near Lake Brandt in early December.

“I saw an albino doe last February on the Guilford College campus near the lake,” wrote Richard Furnas. “Also felt that magical feeling of mother nature letting me see her beauty even though it’s a bit of a chromosome mixup.”

Phil Newcomb was just glad to know he wasn’t nuts for seeing a white deer.

About two years ago, Phil was driving through his neighborhood when he looked into a clearing for a gas pipeline right-of-way. There was a gleaming white deer standing with a few brown deer.

“It kind of gives you goose bumps,” he said. “It could be the same white deer that you saw or an offspring of it. If it’s the same one you saw, it makes me feel good to know that it’s still out there.”

Kevin Nabors reported seeing an albino deer while driving through Guilford Courthouse National Military Park one night in 2013.

“I saw the albino deer cross in front of me about 40 yards ahead. It took a second to register,” Kevin said. “My first thought was that it was General Greene’s white horse LOL. I slowed, and the deer was in no hurry. It was an amazing sight.”

The reader who seems the most likely to have seen the same deer I saw is Chad Rehder.

Early one morning just before Thanksgiving, Chad, 43, was riding his mountain bike on the Wild Turkey Trail between the greenway and the Lake Brandt marina when he came up fast on a juvenile white deer standing with some brown deer about 50 feet from the trail.

“I was by myself, but I think I said, ‘Wow! Look at that!’ I felt compelled to stop and get my camera out,” he says. “It was so surreal.”

The pale deer didn’t startle. As Chad snapped pics, it moseyed away with the others.

“There is somewhat of a magical characteristic about it because it is so unique,” he says.

Happy Valentine’s Day to all who can hold science and magic in their hearts at the same time.  OH

Maria Johnson can be reached at

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