Okay, I didn’t actually catch Scarlet Fever in my living room but thanks to many articles, photos and jokes sent to me by helpful friends and readers, it was a serious concern of mine. For every comment of “Oh, those shy and gentle creatures are the darlings of the forest!” there were five “Opossums are bags of ancient diseases, like little time machines on legs!” I had images of waking up covered in sores, the doctors shaking their heads in wonder at how I managed to catch five different extinct strains of typhus.
As chronicled in my article of September 22, opossums had moved into the walls of my home and we were at war. My porch has been the front line of this war and what I originally thought was a single opossum turned out to be one small opossum and one GIANT REVOLTING opossum. I captured the little one, but the Giant Gross Dark Queen Opossum of Grossness eluded me.
No matter how carefully I blocked the openings, the Dark Queen managed to make it home every morning after a night out on the town. It was like having a drunk, smelly roommate who staggered home after last call and fell asleep inside the wall. Still, I had already caught one member of the Royal Family and the Dark Queen didn’t like that one bit.
My Great Opossum War quickly became a Cold Opossum War, with stealthy sneaking around in the dark, traps laid and traps avoided, whispered curses (mine) and quiet giggling (hers). Because she wasn’t already disgusting enough, the Dark Queen also managed to get herself sprayed by a SKUNK. I am not making that up. Poison gas had been released into my home, and I burned through many a scented candle and incense stick to counteract the fumes. It usually made things worse.
Do you know what an “Autumn Harvest of Skunk and Butt” candle smells like? I do.
I saw the Dark Queen many times, emerging like a furry black bus from underneath my porch, sniffing delicately at my baited trap and casting a saucy glance over her shoulder as she slipped away into the night. Many clever readers might ponder, “Why doesn’t he just block the dang hole, call a professional and be done with this? Also, why doesn’t he put on pants before running outside in the middle of the night waving a mop?” Valid questions, these.
Because. That’s my reason. You can joust at your own windmills, this one is mine. I wasn’t going to let these dinosaurs win.
A startling discovery during the Cold Opossum War was that the Dark Queen had two other offspring who also lived in my home, but since my skill at identifying individual opossums is rather lacking, I didn’t realize it right away. They should wear different hats or shoes or something. Let that sink in; the Dark Queen had given birth to at least three babies inside my home. As enemy combatants, they were just as culpable as the Dark Queen and I apprehended them in short order. I sent both of them away to start new lives where they have lots of room to run around and be disgusting.
By the way, it’s not my fault if these ugly little monsters eventually fall in love with each other and begin building a kingdom of cross-eyed, web-toed offspring with hemophilia. It’s what royal families do, right? So what if they end up with an extra tail? They’re already awful.
The end of the Cold War with the Dark Queen was rather anti-climactic. I had given up stalking her and figured at some point I was going to have to get into a physical altercation with her underneath my house, like a cartoon fight with fur and limbs flying about. Instead, I happened to glance at the trap on Sunday and there she sat, embarrassed and ashamed at being deposed, all because she couldn’t resist a little dry dog food.
(I know they all look freaked out and terrified. I would point out that these beasts kind of always look like that. Don’t worry, they’re fine.)
I admit, I expected the sound of trumpets, a shaft of sunlight beaming down on me, my square jaw set with satisfaction and triumph, a glint of steel in my eye. Instead, there was only the rattling cage and a whiff of old skunk. A bit of a letdown, but a victory is a victory. The Dark Queen and her Ugly Revolting Brood have been banished from my lands, hopefully for good. Many thanks to my brother for turning her loose so I could take a final picture of the event.
Sharing a small, tastefully decorated home with FOUR unwelcome marsupials would push anyone past their limits. I want to say my dignity has been restored but many of my friends would helpfully point out that I had precious little of that to start with. Not a single one of them was shocked to hear I had been fighting an animal in my yard, armed with a mop. Many of them would ask “Just one mop?”