Tim Brys, father of the most recently famous five-year-old fossil hunter, Wylie, is a close personal friend of mine. You see, Tim likes old, dried-up, dusty, sedentary things. And he likes fossils, too.
A few weeks ago, you couldn't escape (and believe me, I tried) all the dozens of news stories about the father and son who went digging around in the dirt behind a construction site and found what could turn out to be a new species of dinosaur.
Wylie found the fossil way back when he was four years old, about 8 months ago. It took that long to secure permits to move the find to Southern Methodist University, where it could be analyzed by their paleontology department. Read one of the stories and/or watch the video.
In the interest of science and my own standing with Mr. Google, I asked Wylie for an interview.
He was unavailable, so I got Tim instead.
QUESTION: So, Tom, which "man" is you?
TIM: Hey! They told me those pictures would be just between us and now I find them on the internet! Despite rumors, none of those are me. Also, isn't a police line-up usually turned to face the witness?
Also, Homo erectus seems to be misnamed.
QUESTION: If you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?
TIM: I don't think I would like to be a diosaur because they are all dead. While that might make a few people happy, if I was dead then I couldn't respond to this interview which would make my friend An* very angry and you wouldn't like her when she's angry.
But also Ankylosaur.
(*My "nickname"--it's ridiculous.)
QUESTION: If you could live in any period in history or pre-history or future history, what is your favorite color?
TIM: Rumplestiltskin Gold. It's kind of a straw-ish gold color.
QUESTION: So, Tom, what's Wylie really like?
TIM: Well, there are some who call me "Tim". Wylie, or "Sir" as well call him... don't tell him that I said this, but he's a real diva! Always ordering us about, throwing his champagne glasses at the wall, slamming his trailer door. "I said, SPRING water, you idiots!" It can get real stressful at times. He fired his last dad for not running a proper temperature for his bath.
QUESTION: In all your digging adventures, what's the strangest non-dinosaury thing you've found?
TIM: Well, I've found a number of interesting things while out exploring: A young albino ribbon snake, a rare colorphase of a glorious jewel scarab, a couple getting busy in the bushes, and one time, at a park near this parking lot, I found a large, blue, rubber item in the bushes... I didn't touch it and I left it there. Weirdest though, would be the guy off in the distance roaming around in a long-sleeved blue shirt with no pants on. My friend Cliff, and I, who were hiking to a fossil creek that day, decided to go back the other way and not investigate further. All true stories*.
QUESTION: Would you consider this fossil-hunting hobby part of something more epic, like, say... a quest, perhaps?
TIM: Well, An, really, you need a sword, a cursed gem, a wizard or something, for going on a quest--a good one, at least. I only really go questing when I have The Magician Bogan* with me.
(*Magician Gerald Bogan: fellow fossil-hunter, master constructor, shape-shifter, part-time tree troll, actual wizard.)
QUESTION: If this is a quest, are you the wizard, the knight, the troll or the cute blonde princess who sings great?
TIM: Well, I did have to wear a blonde yarn wig and dress for a college lip-sync skit, but no, I would probably end up being the porter most likely. Or maybe the guy who follows after with the broom and dustbin to clean up after the horses*.
(*As the insect house keeper, Tim performs similar duties, but he says he's "collecting" pig poo for his dung beetles".)
QUESTION: Have you found any unicorn fossils yet?
TIM: Sadly, no. It is one of my greatest hopes though.
QUESTION: Where is Jimmy Hoffa?
TIM: Why does everyone keep asking me that?! After running into him that day in that long-sleeved blue shirt, I stopped hanging out there.
QUESTION: Tell me about your gnome collection?
TIM: Um, I have reputable witnesses saying that is something which YOU actually collect. Come on! Are we here to talk about you or all about me? I collect everything else.
QUESTION: Are you a twin?
TIM: Yes, sometimes.
QUESTION: You are also a taxidermist. Why this obsession with death?
TIM: Well, as my son said: "That's what happens... you're born, you grow up and become an adult, then an old person, then you die. That's how gravity goes."
As for the taxidermy, the squirrel voices in my head make me do it. I think the voices may be the restless spirits of the roadkill squirrels that people drop off to be immortalized as recompense for the humans' trangressions. Also, death is a close, personal friend of mine.
QUESTION: How is therapy going?
TIM: Well, I am still alive. See above answer though.
QUESTION: So what's next for the father of the world's youngest and famousest paleontologist?
TIM: I think I'll start with breakfast and a shower, not necessarily in that order. I'm still hoping for that unicorn someday. Fossil or living, I don't care which.
QUESTION: To get uppity, close and personal, do you and your wife have plans for another wunderkind? If so, what kind of prodigy would you like this time?
TIM: I'm still hoping for a hedgehog---maybe some day, when we can afford it. On two zookeeper salaries, life gets pretty tight. Maybe I'll send him off to be trained by The Magician Bogan? Would that make him a Hedge-Wizard?
QUESTION: Now, I suppose you'll go out and find Loch Ness.
TIM: We did. Turns out, it has been there for quite awhile. It's large and filled with water.
***For permission to use any portion of this here interview, please contact the voices in Tim's head.***
Click here to see a couple of the zoo exhibits Tim and I worked on (it was mostly Tim--but he let me pretend I was helping).