Playin’ Possum

97% of the following is true. The name of the possum has been changed for his own protection.

I could stop there and let you imagine the rest, but let’s be serious. Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, and bloggers must blog. The short version is that I fell asleep with the back door open, and we have one of those screens that let the cats come and go. Apparently it’s not just for cats.

The protracted version takes place over 12 harrowing hours. I sent the boys to bed around 9:30 and fell asleep on the couch watching some game or another. I heard Mary El come in from rehearsal a few hours later, but I didn’t really wake up until 2am. I heard something crunching from the kitchen area. I listened for a moment, senses heightened. I decided it was just the house.

Now I’m up. I watch a Ricky Gervais Show, then flip on Sportscenter. Nothing’s working. I get up to go to the bathroom, which is off the kitchen, at about 4. I see what I at first think is our roommate Jim’s cat Burlius scurrying into the back room where the offending open door is. Except it’s not walking like a cat, it’s walking like a fat man toward a hot dog cart—seemingly quickly, but going nowhere particularly fast. It scuttles under the futon. I turn on the overhead light and approach with caution, tiptoeing into the back room. Just then our cat Max breezes by my feet, sending me approximately three feet straight up into the air. Max peeks under the futon, decides whatever is under there is not his problem, and saunters through the screen door. Wait ’til someone wants to be fed again…

I re-approach, with trepidation but resolute—I must protect my family after all. I look under the futon. There are two beady black eyes blinking back at me in that “I can’t see a damn thing but I sense something’s there” way. All I could think of was Mr. Mole, with his little round glasses. I open up the back door completely and try to shoo him out with a broom. He backs up and hisses.

As I contemplate my next move I hear Mary El get up to go to the bathroom. Oh no. I station myself at the entrance way to the kitchen. I hope she’ll go back to bed so can handle Mr. Mole myself, none the wiser about that open back door but him and me. Mary El comes out and sees me. We make some small talk—I can’t sleep, neither can I—then she moves to go past me into the kitchen.

Do you want something in there?

I was going to get a drink.

(brief pause) There’s a mole in the back room.

A mole? Just get one of the cats.

This is as big as a cat.

Let me see this thing…(she does)… That’s a possum, you moron.

(shrugging) It looks like Mr. Mole.

Mary El gets up on a chair and pokes under the futon with the broom. No dice. I try sweeping him out again, but he backs out of my reach and hisses again. We retreat to the kitchen and discuss a future plan of action. We end up adding a cardboard box to the aforementioned broom. We go in as a team, grim, determined, like Siegfried & Roy. I just hope I’m not the one who gets his head bit off.

We bend down as one, our taming tools in hand and…Mr. Mole is gone!  Disappeared. He must have snuck out the door while we were hatching our foolproof plan. We didn’t even need the box! Crisis averted. Our kids are safe once more. Except…

Fast forward to 10am, and I’m once again I’m asleep on the couch. This is what I awake to: “Hi, is this animal control? There’s a possum on my living-room windowsill, in the same room where my disabled husband is sleeping…”

Not any more. This time I grab a much bigger, plastic box. Mr. Mole doesn’t stand a chance. For some reason I can’t adequately explain, I start talking to the possum—something about staying calm, and that he’s as scared as we are, he’s just lost and needs to find his way outside. Mary El called me the Possum Whisperer. Just when I think I have him, he jukes left, moves right with his best Dwayne Wade move and scoots past me. All I can do is chase, which I do, all the way back to the trusty futon, where this whole thing started. I look under there and see…nothing! Again! Is there some kind of alternate universe under our futon? A trap door for possums so they can screw with our minds? Is this a magic possum?

Nope. But there is a little ridge against the wall about six inches off the floor that is just wide enough to keep a very frightened, blind creature out of sight. Ohhh…so that’s how…never mind the “comes the dawn” moment, I have work to do. Somehow I get Mr. Mole out from under the futon and trapped against the washing machine. I did this as humanely as possible, still whispering soothing words to him along the way. I kept cutting off his retreat routes into the house until all there was left was the open door and the great outdoors. He dove off our deck into the thick underbrush, off to explain to his wife why he was out all last night. And leaving me to explain to mine why I failed to close the door last night. (For the answer, see the “moron” reference above).

As he scurried out of sight I think I saw Max lift his head and perk his ears, ever the vigilant pet. Nah, he was just licking himself.

  1. Possums generally play dead when they’re frightened, you must not be daunting.

    • theresa petti butler galimi
    • June 21st, 2012

    LMAO, I couldn’t stop laughing

  2. I’m about as daunting as you’d expect a bald, disabled, man in his 40s to be. I don’t scare my children either.

    • mike
    • June 21st, 2012

    sounds like a fun night

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