Sometime during the early 1980s a new business called House of Blades opened in Fort Worth and I decided to check it out to see about purchasing a nice set of knives for a mother's day gift. My parents had recently moved into their newly purchased and remodeled farmhouse and I thought she might like a new set of knives for her new kitchen. Stepping into the store I was greeted by Rosebud the mountain lion.
She was sitting to the right of the door on a pet bed serenely watching everything going on in the store and locked her gaze on me as I entered. The effect of the encounter took my breath away as deep instinct kicked in and I stopped in my tracks. Standing stock still I checked the store for other people. I was the only customer and a man stood behind the counter watching me with a broad smile on his face. The smile didn't help me relax much.
"Don't worry. She's tame," he said.
I thought, "Yeah, right. All the wild gone from a live, apex predator able to easily kill me."
The man motioned at the beautiful creature and said "Her name is Rosebud. You can pet her. She likes it when someone scratches behind her ears."
Looking back and forth between the man and Rosebud a few times first, I decided to ease up closer to her. She watched me and blinked, looking friendly, no teeth bared. No growling. Although instinctive fear still gripped me firmly in the gut, I knew this was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I wasn't about to let it pass without petting a real live mountain lion. Gently scratching behind her ears she began purring very loudly and raised her head a bit to indicate she wanted more scratching. I gave her what she wanted as she purred and rocked her head this way and that then I eased away to shop for the set of knives, talking fairly breathlessly with the man behind the counter about Rosebud as I shopped. He seemed to be enjoying my reaction to the store mascot.
A year or two later I went back to that store to see if Rosebud was still standing guard there but the man behind the counter told me she had died of some kind of disease they weren't able to cure. This saddened me more than I expected it would, having only met Rosebud once before and only for a matter of minutes. But the memory of her loud purring while scratching behind her ears lives on, and so does House of Blades in Fort Worth. If I ever return to Fort Worth (highly unlikely) I think I'll visit that store again to get a new set of knives for my kitchen. In this day and age there's no way in hell a live mountain lion would be allowed to greet customers as they walked into the store, making for a damn cool memory.