Have you ever read the book Cujo by Stephen King? If you haven’t (and you’re a Stephen King fan), then stop reading my blog right now and head to the library or bookstore to pick up a copy. You can come back and read my post after you’re done if you’re so inclined. Otherwise, be warned that this post is nothing but one big spoiler about the book and why it helped to make me a “worst case scenario” kind of gal.
Cujo was a humongous St. Bernard who, by all accounts, was a friendly family pet until he was bitten by a rabid bat. Soon, he was foaming at the mouth – attacking and killing anything that moved, including his owner (who was an auto mechanic who worked from his rather isolated home). You’d think that would be scary enough – but to make the story even more nerve-wracking, Mr. King decides to have a young mother and her 4-year-old son visit the mechanic…and no sooner do they pull into the yard than their ailing vehicle breaks down entirely. The unsuspecting mom hops out to get help and barely makes it back to the car in one piece after Cujo decides to have her for lunch. It’s a summer day, and the car is getting hotter and hotter…and mom and her son have no food or water. Mom tries at one point to escape to the house to call for help, but ends up getting bitten once or twice. After seeing Cujo kill a police officer who happens upon the scene, she realizes after a time that her son may die of dehydration while they wait for help, so she confronts Cujo with a baseball bat and manages to break it over his head and stab him in the eye. About that time, help arrives – but too late – because the son is ALREADY DEAD of dehydration! Yes, Mr. King is a deeply disturbed individual who apparently does not believe in happy endings.
I read Cujo when I was a young adult, and it made a lasting impression on me. As you know, I come from a family of Mormons who are very much into food storage and emergency preparedness (not “Doomsday Prepper” preparedness…but pretty damn close). The story of Cujo and the dead son just reiterated to me the fact that only those that are prepared will survive when the proverbial shit hits the fan. I started my preparations innocently enough, trying to make sure my pantry was well stocked with staples. Then I started carrying some sort of food in the glove compartment of my car – just a package of peanut butter crackers , some nuts, or some beef jerky . It was my “Cujo food” – just a little something to help with survival should a rabid dog hold me hostage or should I become trapped if my car plunged off the side of the road and landed in some ditch or tree and no one finds me for weeks (OK – don’t laugh – this kind of shit HAPPENS! Just Google “plunges of road” or “trapped in car” – you’ll see!)
As the years have gone by, there will be long months where I don’t even think about emergency preparedness or food storage. Then, the economy will get wonky, job uncertainty looms, a new epidemic will breakout in China, or I’ll see a disaster movie or a news story that deals with the importance of being prepared. That’s when I start to research plans online, buy my #10 cans of freeze-dried food storage (with a 25-year shelf life), and wish I had the money to buy a secluded compound in the mountains, complete with solar and wind generated power, a well, septic system, and a herd of goats (What? Goats are PRACTICAL – they eat anything, breed like rabbits, and keep your lawn looking well-manicured – and it’s important to have a nice lawn when civilization is breaking down all around you!)
People call me crazy – but I know that I’ll probably end up eating my food storage in 25 years, just because it is due to expire. And more often than not, my kids and I chow down on the Cujo food in the glove compartment just because we’re hungry while running errands. However, I’ll continue to restock my Cujo food and make my emergency plans, because I feel calmer and, perhaps ironically, more sane when I know I’m prepared…just in case.