Friday, September 11, 2015

Opossums REALLY Do Play Dead


My dear friends and blog readers, this blog may be silly but it's entirely accurate. I'm not exaggerating as I've been known to do; however, this IS a real life, swear on my living mother's soul (God bless my dear, nutty mother), a true tale of the most freakish sort. And, as I'm about to impart it, though I admit to having tossed down a few ales and now am feeling somewhat toasty, it will be told with all the seriousness I can reasonably muster throughout my continued giggling.

And so I begin...

I am an animal lover. Let me shout this from the mountain tops, I LOVE ALL CREATURES GREAT AND SMALL except opossums. These ugly, nasty, rat-like creatures with snouts and horrifyingly long rat-like tails are comparable to Roald Dahl's despicable villains, the "Vermicious Knids" from the book, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator. There isn't a more evil name I can possibly conjure up for these fanged demons.

Why do I despise these ugly little bastards? There's always a reason and the reason is between me and the one that almost mauled my face the night I was taking out the trash. Did I know mama opossum was sorting through my parents garbage hoping to feed her four babies sitting directly above me on the brick wall? Of course not. I wasn't planning on making a coat out of her babies' pelts for goodness sake! I would have preferred to have missed the entire introduction but no, I was traumatized for life. So, since that fateful night many years ago, I am now indifferent to the lives of these beasts which will hopefully explain the recent brutal actions I'm preparing to admit to the world.

On a recent trip to Southern California, I was staying with my sisters and nieces for a big birthday celebration. While my sisters and mom were out for the day, I heard the unmistakable horrified squeal of one of my nieces. As it happened, their two large guard dogs had caught and "apparently" killed an opossum and left it in the yard for us to find and dispose of. Lovely. Well, since I was a guest, I suggested to my 22 year old goddaughter to scoop it up and throw it away before the dogs decided to eat it for lunch (I wasn't going to do it because it wasn't my idea of a quality vacation experience).

She was "grossed out" - as I certainly would have been - but went dutifully for a large shovel to remove said nasty, dead thing. Well, as she pushed the shovel under it, the damn dead thing's tail twitched! I can say with all sincerity that our two bodies have never jumped so high, quickly, in unison or made that sort of high pitched scream EVER in our lifetime. Dear God in HEAVEN! Now the question was, was that some sort of post mortem shudder or was the little creep playing mind games with us? I thought that opossums "playing dead" was all a hoax. I didn't think they seriously did that sort of business.

"Oh my God, Breezy! What do we do?"

Well, I being the serious lover of these monsters that I am, I said the first plausible thing that came to mind, "You're going to have to whack it, Molly and make sure it's dead. You don't want the dogs coming back and finishing the job and getting sick, right?"

"I can't whack it! You do it!"

"Naw, it's your critter. You do it."

"I can't do it! Pleeeease Breezy!!"

Don't judge me my friends but for the first time in my life the idea of whacking an animal sounded sorta, well...GOOD! "Okay."

"You will?" Molly sounded both surprised and somewhat shocked.

"Yep, hand me the shovel." And with three mighty blows applied directly to the head, I felt I had finished what the dogs had started. That little bastard was not "playing" any more. Vindication was mine.

After the commotion, I suggested that Molly place a large terracotta pot over it while we waited for Animal Control to come and get it. As she did this, the corner of the pot, which was cracked and exposed the tail, MOVED! THE TAIL MOVED! THE MONSTER WAS ALIVE! We screamed, we jumped up and down, we discussed the number of whacks, the severity of my blows, the impossibility of the situation and then...my smart ass 19 year old other niece who had quietly walked out to smoke a cigarette and witness the latter half of the ballyhoo says quite matter of factly, "You know, it's against the law in California to hurt or kill any animals on your property without the proper permit. You're going to be seriously fined once they figure out it was you and not the dogs."

Good grief! Just as I'm processing this information, a huge hulk of an Animal Control woman stalks up to the back gate. She's carrying a cage and looks impressive as Hell. The lady points to the pot, "Is this where the little guy is?" Molly and I nod our heads and say we're not sure if the dogs actually killed it or not. I stood protectively behind my mother's house gate just in case it was alive and remembered the wild redhead wielding the shovel. Elizabeth, the smart ass, continued smoking looking on in curiosity. The three Bryant girls waited with baited breath as the woman lifted the pot and DAMMIT! that demon came right for me! If it hadn't been for the lightning reflexes of Madam Control Officer catching it by the tail, my face would have had its second close call mauling incident. Two too many in a lifetime if you ask me.

"Ma'am," I managed, "how does it look? Did the dogs hurt it at all?"

"No. It looks fine to me."

Molly asked incredulously, "I saw them really go after its head. There's no blood or bruising?" With that question, I could see smart ass smirking through her smoke.

"Nope, not even a bruise. I'll relocate it and find a nice safe home for her."

HER?! How ironic? Of course it was a her. Bitch wouldn't DIE! They'll haunt me forever.

The slam of the house gate broke my morbid thoughts along with Molly's final comment, "Gosh Auntie Breezy, you really suck at whacking opossums."

Apparently it's an acquired skill. No judging my friends, no judging.