Column Classic: To Catch A Predator

By Lisa Scottoline

I have a crush.

On a fox.


What can I say?

He’s foxy.

Let me explain.

A few months ago, I noticed that there was a baby fox running around my backyard, hanging out in some brush to the left, far from the house. He was red, fluffy, and adorable, with delicate black paws and ears, and I began to spend time watching him.

That makes me sound lonelier than I am. 

Also creepier, especially when I use my binoculars.

If I get a GPS on him, call the authorities.

In time, the fox grew up, going from cute to handsome and then some. Imagine Justin Bieber turning into Hugh Jackman, like Wolverine only nice.

A stone fox.

His body got fuller, his coat glossier, and he sprouted a thick patch of white fur on his chest. 

I like chest hair, even if it’s white.

I’m at that age.

In my own defense, I also like nature, especially when it can be even remotely classified as a Woodland Creature. 

Chipmunks, call me.

Also I loved that animated movie The Fantastic Mr. Fox, so it was all I could do not to catch the fox and dress him in a pinstriped suit. In case you were wondering, my thing for the fox has nothing to do with the fact that George Clooney voiced the fox in The Fantastic Mr. Fox. As we know, I’m over my crush on George and have moved on to Bradley Cooper, because crushes are highly transferrable, especially when they’re completely imaginary.

And also this is one smart fox. 

I didn’t know that foxes really were smart, but believe the hype. 

He darts away if I go out the back door, then sticks his head up from the brush when I go inside, as if he watches my comings and goings. He comes out only at certain times of the evening, when we sit and stare at each other from across the lawn. I begin to notice that I’m looking forward to our end-of-the-day staring sessions.

In other words, dates.

Words aren’t always necessary, between us.

Frankly, I’ve had entire marriages that were far less interesting.

By the way, foxes mate for life.

Unlike me.

My fox is so cool and elusive, the ultimate mystery man. Either he has intimacy issues, or I do.

Daughter Francesca came home to visit, and I showed her the fox, but she frowned. “Mom,” she said, “he’s cute, but stay away.”

“I know, he could have herpes.”

“You mean rabies.”

“Right.” I meant rabies. “I was wondering if I should put some food out for him.”

Francesca’s eyes widened. “Are you serious? He’s a predator.”

“So what? They have to eat, too.” 

“You want him around?”

“Of course. Isn’t he great? I mean, he’s like another dog and cat, combined.” I didn’t tell her he’s my crush. I didn’t want her to think I like bad boys. 

So I didn’t feed him, because my daughter is smarter than I am. 

But neither of us is as smart as my fox.

I say this because the other day he ran by with a bird in its mouth, and I realized that it might have come from my bird feeder by the back door, which I keep full because I like to watch birds, too.

Though with them I manage to check my romantic urges. 

No chest hair.

Although yesterday I did see a superhot blue jay.

Anyway I felt terrible about the bird who was about to be dinner, and worse about the fox. And now I’m thinking that all this time, on our nightly dates, the fox wasn’t watching me, but the bird feeder.

He wasn’t the man I thought he was.

Copyright Lisa Scottoline