I thought seeing road-kill squirrel was bad enough, only to have it turn up mysteriously under the family grill on the back patio.
On a recent Friday, it got even worse. I was approaching the driveway and was about three houses up I noticed that someone had run down a possum.
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A little side note here. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary – an excellent resource, by the way – describes a possum (actually, spelled “opossum”) as:
1 : any of a family (Didelphidae) of American marsupials that usually have a pointed snout and prehensile tail ; especially : a common omnivorous largely nocturnal mammal (Didelphis virginiana) of North America that has grayish to blackish fur with white on the cheeks and is an expert climber
2 : any of several Australian phalangers
It then defines a “plalanger” as:
“… any of various small to medium-sized marsupial mammals (family Phalangeridae) of the Australian region that are chiefly arboreal and nocturnal and usually densely furred …”
I guess you could hurl an insult at someone by calling them a “phalanger.” That should certainly cause some confusion.
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Getting back to the story, the worst part about the possum wasn’t that it had been run over. The worst part was that it was STILL ALIVE!
As I approached it, the possum lifted its head and looked me straight in the eye. Isn’t there a rule about making eye contact with wild animals, especially ones that have been hit by a car?
Oh jeez – now what the hell was I supposed to do? I went into the house and thought about my situation. It wasn’t really a dilemma, because I wanted the possum to die.
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By the way, a dilemma is a situation in which all of the outcomes are undesirable. So you don’t have a dilemma if the choice is being given a car or being given a cat, unless you can’t afford the car and you’re allergic to the cat – at the same time.
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Let’s review my choices:
1) Find my hand gun and go out and shoot it. Downside: Neighbors would call the police, and I would have a criminal record.
2) Get back into the car and run it over properly. Downside: I wasn’t looking forward to hearing my car tires crush its skull. Worse yet, the damn thing probably would make eye contact again.
3) Get some type of blunt instrument and bludgeon it. Downside: I’d have to relive my “thug” days.
4) Get a baseball bat and beat it to death. Downside: See No. 3. Also, I didn’t want to be covered with possum juice.
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When we were working in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., this story crossed the news desk:
A family was holding its annual reunion/picnic. A raccoon ran into the house, and one of the family members grabbed a golf club and beat it to death in front of about 10 or 12 people, who were spattered by raccoon blood. The raccoon later tested positive for rabies, and everyone in the house had to get rabies shots.
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With this story cooking in my brain, I continued to give this some more careful thought. Thankfully (and I really mean it), the damned thing died before I decided how I would euthanize it.
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Monday: The possum was still in the street. The sun was now out, and the smell was simply horrible.
Tuesday: Still there, although I think it had been been run over several times. I hope some of those crows that I saw in the neighborhood the week before fly in and carry it away.
Wednesday: Finally, it was raining, so the smell had dissipated. Now it was a pile of wet gray fur. I was thinking I should have found the snow shovel and removed it.
Thursday: Still there. It was now a smear of “gray something” on the asphalt. Why – oh why – won’t the neighbors remove the carcass? That’s what it was at this point. Trash day was just around the corner, so I hope that those guys would clean it up. I’m sure they will – I’m sure they won’t.