It was more than a year ago I first saw him...just a glance out of the corner of my eye, and then I shook my head. Travelling at 65 miles per hour on the freeway and seeing something like that near the foothills above Southern California...nah, couldn't possibly have been...
But yes, this is Southern California, and anything really is possible, so I looked again about a week later on the same route home, and all I saw was a very tall barn with no sign of life. Two days later on the same drive I looked again and he was there, tall and sort of yellowish and brown, but he wasn't moving. It must have been a very large stuffed animal.
It became the only possible way to go home, to see if there was anything to be seen on the right side of the freeway in that tiny window of opportunity when that barn could be seen, and occasionally my vigilance was rewarded with the sight of...well...a giraffe. The first time he moved I was ecstatic. A real live giraffe was living within 2 miles of me. A giraffe!
And then there was always the possibility that I had been writing too many strange things and I had only thought I had seen a...well...you know...a camelopard, Giraffa camelopardalis, (named camelopardus by the Romans because to their eyes it had characteristics of both the camel and the leopard).
So for days I was afraid to say much of anything about it, lest I be accused of having finally lost touch with reality, and for days I continued to drive by my long-necked friend to see how he was doing. He. How did I know if it were a he or a she, especially travelling down the freeway at 55 miles per hour? Of course I didn't, but I recalled a TV commercial for a toy store called Toys R Us (with a backwards R that my keyboard will not duplicate) and remembered they had a giraffe named Geoffrey as their -uh- spokesanimal, so Geoffrey he became. Or she. It no longer mattered. Geoffrey had become my equivalent of the 6-foot invisible rabbit Jimmy Stewart used to talk to in the film "Harvey", and I was duly waving hello to this giraffe as I drove by at 45 miles an hour.
And then one day I let it slip to a friend who had lived in this end of town much longer than I had and I asked her if she had ever seen a giraffe in the area.
She laughed and said "Oh sure, He's an animal actor. He does a lot of commercials and all. You can see him off the freeway not too far from here."
So if you see me driving down the freeway at 35 miles an hour, don't honk. I'm just trying to wave at Geoffrey on my way home. And if you look over to the right side of the freeway after you have slowed down, you may see him too.
After all, anything is possible in Southern California