Encounters with Unexpected Animals

I found Johnston’s short story “Encounters with Unexpected Animals” to be extremely strange. Everything about the story is unexpected; a macaw on a mans shoulder, zebras with cattle, goats on top of peach trees, peacocks in San Antonio, the geeky son going out with a girl with a reputation, the detour Lambright takes with Lisa in the car, and finally the move Lisa pulls to one up Lambright.
Even though Lambright’s character is supposed be a protective father I found him creepy. Even his name creeped me out, being so different from the others like Lisa and Robbie. Lambright knows that Lisa has “a reputation, a body, and a bar code tattooed on the back of her neck.” which he sometimes notices “when her green hair [is] ponytailed.” We learn that Lambright is aware of his sons 17 year old girlfriends body and sometimes looks at her tattoo all in the first paragraph. We also learn in the first sentence that Lambright will be taking Lisa home after dinner. Maybe if we had gotten to know more about Lambright the first paragraph wouldn’t have seemed so off, but because it starts off with that I immediately got a strange vibe from him. The story grows more uncomfortable when Lambright takes Lisa “outside the city limits” and turns off the car to tell her to stop seeing his son. ”’Lisa,” he said, his tone pleasingly superior. He liked how much he sounded like a father.” Lambright seems to like being dominant and in control over others, especially Lisa. When she scoots towards him he notes that no one is around. He “smelled lavender, her hair or cool skin.” All the little details that he notices about Lisa throughout the story felt inappropriate. A dad shouldn’t notice his sons girlfriends body, tattoos, or the way she smells.
I almost felt bad for him in the end when Lisa runs away, threatening to lie about what happened. Lambright may have had good intentions when he took Lisa out there to lecture her but from the way the story started and how Lambright notices Lisa I think theres more to it. Lisa’s movements “stirred in him a floating sensation, the curious and scattered feeling of being born on waves or air or wings. He was disoriented, short of breath. He knew he was at the beginning of something, though just then he couldn’t say exactly what.” Johnston leaves us hanging with the feeling that something is about to happen. Im almost glad it ended like that, the story was strange enough without the reader knowing what happened, and this causes us to form our own conclusions.

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troe

October 28th


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