Sherry Carter, Reformed Engineer

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Giggles & Games

October 2011

Lions and Tigers and Opossums, oh my!

I have an opossum problem. I have a familyóor seventyóof the cutest little opossums living beneath my mobile home. (What? You thought I lived in swanky Beverly Hills? Please. I live in a trailer park.) Why is that a problem, you might ask. The opossums, not the trailer park. Well, Iíll tell you. Because they think my dogís food is their food. I have Morganís food inside one of three big doghouses that sit side-by-side, elevated on concrete blocks so the insides stay nice and dry. Having the food inside keeps it protected from all the rain and humidity. Okay, so we havenít had rain to speak of in MONTHSóthatís a hint, Fatheróbut a huge thunderstorm could arise at any second. Morgan, bless her little heart, refuses to eat wet and squishy food. Canít blame her. I wouldnít either. I canít stand my cereal to get squishy. I wolf down the bits and pieces in seconds so they stay crunchy. I donít taste my breakfast until Iíve put the empty bowl in the sink.

Anyway, at some point in their happy little lives, the small opossums discovered if they squeezed through the opening between the chain-link fence and the side of the mobile home, they can get into the yard. Lo and Behold! Thereís FOOD in that enormous metal roasting pan! Oh, happy day, Iím sure the first one to discover the treasure thought. He/she/who-can-tell hurried off to share the news.

With apparently every single opossum located within a five mile radius. I should start charging rent. Set up cubicles so they can have apartments of their own. I cannot wrap my mind around why, out of all the dozens of mobile homes in this entire trailer park, these darliní little critters couldnít have decided to live at someone elseís abode. But they didnít. Oh, no. Iíve got Opossum Central beneath the floor of my residence.

Do you know when opossums are most active? Not during daylight hours when most people are awake and going about their lives. Negatory, buttercup! Opossums are nocturnal animals. That means when the sun goes down and the moon comes up, their little black eyeballs pop open and theyíre fully energized. Ready to face the dayóI mean, nightówith an overabundance of enthusiasm.

Everybody knows the most important meal of the whatever-time-it-is-you-wake-up is: breakfast. The body requires fuel. It canít function on dirt. Which is too bad since we have tons of the gritty stuff just lying around waiting to be useful for something. Iím sure in normal circumstances, the sweet opossums would head out into the wilderness hunting and foraging in all kinds of dangerous conditions for a tiny morsel on which to survive.

Not my precious opossums. They have a restaurant already set up quite nicely in my back yard. They donít converge like Sunday church-goers at Golden Corral ten minutes after the pastor says, Amen. One at a time is how they come to feast. Daintily, I might add.

Iím not sure why Morgan cares if opossums eat her food. She sprawls in the yard, watches every species of bird known to humankind zero in on her dish. Itís as if sheís erected a billboard on the atmospheric Jet Stream, FREE FOOD! COME TO MY HOUSE! Sheíd probably cut the chunks into bite-sized pieces for them if she could handle a knife and fork. Iíve had to start buying extra dog food to feed birds from Mexico all the way to Montana. (Because bird seed makes funky plants grow in the yard, thatís why.)

Here is where the problem begins. Morgan discovered these soft, furry beings drop to the ground and curl up in a ball when approached. Can you say, TOY!! Theyíre fun to carry around, drop on the ground and paw, carry around, drop on the ground and paw. And to bark at. As loudly as her Rottweiler voice can go. She throws every ounce of herself into barking. Iím sure people in Louisiana hear her yodeling at ten thirty at night. And Midnight. And three oíclock in the morning. And five oíclock in the morning.

As soon as I hear her howling louder than Ethel Merman sang ďGod Bless AmericaĒ (Google her, kids), I grab my flashlight and cell phone. Who knows? It might actually be a human being intent on nefarious activities. I have to be ready to dial 9-1-1. Save the neighborhood from evil, as it were. Maybe get on an episode of COPS. But it never is. Itís always a tiny, frightened opossum backed into the corner behind the metal turkey roasting pan in which I place Morganís food. Or itís huddled behind the doghouses. Two mornings ago, the adorable thing was at the bottom of the several-feet-deep hole Morgan has dug. Curled up, playing dead. (Yes, they really, actually do!) Three guesses who got to descend into the Pit Of Unknown Depth. And got knocked back down in it twice when Morgan attempted to get the ďdeceasedĒ opossum from me.

Morgan knows the phrase, ďLeave it.Ē That means donít touch it, back away from it. No matter what ďitĒ is. Her excitement is more than she can handle. She bounces around the yard like a rabbit on methamphetamines. Races around the perimeter faster than the Lone Rangerís speeding bullet. And in case I mightíve missed the object of her delirium, she charges into me, knocking me over so Iíll know to follow her. All of this accompanied by frantic barking louder than a jet engine.

Iím just relieved no one has a camera. Iíd get more hits on YouTube than that prepubescent Justin BeeberÖDustin BiberÖJustin PeeblesÖoh, who cares? Picture it if you can. Since itís Zero Dark Thirty at night, I am in my nightgown. All ninety pounds of a wigged-out dog is attempting to cram herself into the doghouse while Iím in there trying to get the cute opossum to play dead so I can save its hairy little life. Probably again. There are places a cold, wet dog nose should not go.

Or Iím having to drag Morgan backwards so I can reach the delightful opossum. All the while screaming, ďLeave it!Ē as if my home were ablaze. Believe me, when a large dog is determined to do her own thing, there are few forces on earth that can change her mind. Itís a wonder both my shoulders havenít been dislocated.

Or Iím attempting to spread across the top of the doghouses, using a long stick to gently scoot the endearing opossum toward the opening in the fence. And from there, escape. Morgan is jumping up and down, helping me climb atop the doghouses by planting her size six paws in the middle of my rump and shoving me and the hem of my nightgown upward. Again with the cold, wet nose.

The terrified opossumóand who wouldnít be? A short, round woman in a nightgown, hair stuck out to there, and a monster of gigantic proportions making unbelievable noises bearing down like a Great White Shark after an underwater cameraman, is enough to give the bravest animal a heart attackóattempts to make itself as small as possible. It hisses. Like itís a force to be reckoned with. But it doesnít bite. Simply shows its needle-sharp teeth.

Eventually the petrified opossum gets the hint. It keels over like Arte Johnson on the tricycle (Google the show, Laugh In), body in the fetal position, tongue hanging outside its mouth, eyes mostly closed. I carefully lift the ďdeadĒ mammal, place it in the box Iíve appropriated for this very purpose then head for the gate. Accompanied by a nearly-one hundred pound canine ping-ponging around me at forty mph. And still barking.

I manage to get outside the gate without Morgan knocking me over or snatching the charming opossum from the box. I carry it around to the back of the mobile home where the under skirting has come loose, lay it down then return to the yard to retrieve the flashlight and cell phone. By now Iím scratched, bruised, covered in dirt and dog slobber. And Iím completely wide awake. As is the entire neighborhood, Iím sure.

Last night a brilliant thought came to me as I was jammed inside the doghouse, Morganís weight pressing me forward, her voice echoing to the planet Pluto (Google cartoon dogs). After the energetic ordeal was accomplished for the 9420th time, I filled a used Hormel Ready-To-Serve meat dish plastic tub with dog food, took it to the under skirting opening and shoved it inside. This is what I call Meals On Wheels at my house.

After rinsing off, changing my filthy nightgown, regaining the comfort of my bed, and while waiting for the ringing in my ears to subside, I thought about how our relationship with God is. Painfully do I admit Iím exactly like Morgan. I turn myself wrong-side-out to get something I shouldnít have. Donít we all? We run around screeching like a banshee, arms and legs flying in all directions. We forget God promises He will provide all we need. Instead we should keep in mind if God isnít providing it, we donít need it. And on that thought, Iím putting back the fourth Triple Double Oreo cookie Iím holding in my hand.

Until next time, may you be filled with Godís tender mercies.


Jann (Sherry's sister)



 







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