06.20.15SpongeBob vs. the Buffalo

If you’ve spent any amount of time with my family, you know we are quite the group of storytellers. Our idea of a good time is sitting in a circle and recounting hilarious memories from years gone by. Of course, we have our favorite tales that we retell year after year. This one definitely ranks high on that list. I jotted it down for my Dad last Father’s Day, and I thought I’d share the hilarity with y’all today. Happy Father’s Day!

spongebob vs. the buffalo

I grew up vacationing on the remote side of Catalina Island, where the buffalo really do roam free. We had had one exciting buffalo encounter the year before when a herd decided to stampede through our campsite. But it was nothing a quick dive into my tent or hop onto a nearby picnic table couldn’t solve. So, in my 9-year-old wisdom, I thought the biggest buffalo danger I could face on the island was the plethora of brown pies littered about the sandy hills.


Lovely Avalon on the front side of Catalina Island—definitely NOT where my family camped. Picture these hills and gorgeous blue ocean with zero buildings. Oh, and with wild buffalo. Lots of buffalo.

I remember one afternoon, it was growing late; the sun’s rays inched closer to the water. We had spent the whole day swimming in Little Harbor, and I needed to visit the restroom—an ancient porta-potty located at the top of one of the trails. I let my Dad know where I was headed and took off. About halfway up the hill, I heard a loud snort. Startled, I turned to see a huge buffalo with her baby not 15 feet from the trail’s edge. I panicked and bolted back down the hill toward my Dad.

“Dad! Dad!! There’s a HUGE buffalo by the trail and I can’t go by it!!”

“Is it on the trail?” he asked.

“Well, no. But practically!!” I replied.

“Just put your towel above your head,” he said calmly. “It will think you’re bigger than you really are and leave you alone.”

I remember waiting several seconds to see if that familiar grin would spread across his face in a joking smile. But he was serious. I realized that this insane man was about to send his fourth-grader back up the hill toward the evil buffalo.

But this craziness must run in our family, because I swallowed hard, lifted my towel with trembling fingers and began to walk toward the porta-potty once more. As I neared the giant beast, I gave it all I had, stepping on my tiptoes with my soggy SpongeBob beach blanket blowing in the breeze above my head.

The buffalo snorted once. Then twice. She stomped her hoof angrily at me, lowering her head as if to charge. I took off running, yelling some barbaric cry as if to scare her away, the whole time holding my towel high until I reached the safety of the blue plastic outhouse.

I remember hanging out near that decrepit porta-potty for a little longer than necessary, hoping the giant beast would get the hint and leave. Sure enough, she did, giving me a clear path to rejoin my family at the base of the hill.

“Dad!” I cried, running up to him. “Dad, I walked by the buffalo like you said, but she almost charged at me!”

“Oh, really?” he asked, a bemused look on his face. “Well, you made it, didn’t you?”

“Barely!” I said in my best Bob Wiley* impression. “Barely!”

*Bob Wiley is a character from one of our family’s favorite films, What About Bob?, which is best watched with someone who nearly hyperventilates from laughing so hard (i.e., my Dad).

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