In this week’s issue, David Sedaris reflects upon his search for the perfect gift: a stuffed owl:
The story sounds a bit far-fetched, but there was no denying that the arm was real. The cut had been made two inches south of the elbow, and the exposed end, with its cleanly severed radius and ulna, reminded me of osso bucco. “It was my grandfather who mummified it,” the taxidermist said. “You can see it’s not the best job in the world, but it’s really rather good for a first attempt.”
I leaned closer.
“Touch it,” the taxidermist whispered.
As if I were under a spell, I did, shuddering a little at the feel of the hairs. Equally creepy was the arm’s color, which was not Caucasian flesh tone but not brown, either, the way most desiccated body parts are. This was the same slightly toasted shade as a spray-on tan.
“I think I’ll just take one of those owls,” I said.
Photograph by Richard Barnes.