A Piece of the Possum
September 20, 2005

When I was five, we moved to Austin, Texas, and in my heart, I never left there. There's something about the Hill Country in Texas ... no matter what else you may think about Texas, boots, horses, the Shrub (yes, I mean the ex-National Guardsman who pretty much loses interest in everything and walks away), wilderness, snakes, rednecks, regardless of all of that, Austin is the most beautiful place in the world to me.

At the time, we lived waaay out on the outskirts of town, up on the North end, just off the highway and down the road from a quarry. Balcones Woods, as our community was called, was mostly woods when we moved there -- in fact, Dad took a section of the fencing down so we could go walking in the woods behind our house. Of course, my sister and I weren't allowed out in the woods without him, but it was fun to get as close to the gap in the fence as possible to see how long it took before we got yelled at.

I loved watching the rabbits and the deer wander into the yard and didn't really understand why Dad was trying so hard to keep them out of the garden -- they could eat all the green beans they wanted as far as I was concerned! I was utterly fascinated with all the wildlife (except the scorpions -- I even played with the "baby" ribbon snakes on a regular basis).

Mom and Dad converted our garage into a playroom for my sister and I -- and for Dad's train set (don't touch!) and his tools (don't touch those either!). Jenny and I were out there playing one day and Mom opened the side door to take the trash out.

She promptly screamed and slammed the side door.

"What's the matter, Mom?" I asked calmly. I was about seven and used to these little outbursts.

"There's a big ugly 'possum in the trash can and now I can't throw away the trash."

"I'll take it."


She stood there, quivering, next to the side door. She couldn't seem to put the trash down (it's dirty, after all) and she couldn't seem to move, either.

I moved toward the door. "I'll just knock the trash can over, Mom. Then he'll run away and you can toss the trash out." I generally tried to be helpful. Generally.

"NO!" She finally moved. "I'll call your dad at work."


"I'll get him to come home and get rid of the 'possum."

"I said I would do it, Mom."

Now, here's where the story gets either interesting or sad, depending on your frame of mind. I tend to find it hysterically funny. Most days.

Mom stared at me in shocked horror. "You can't!"

I rolled my eyes. "All I gotta do is knock the trash can over, Mom. 'Possums aren't that heavy."

"No! It has rabies and it will kill you."

Now Mom decided that it did have rabies after her split second look. Not that it maybe had rabies, but that it definitely did.

"I'll run back inside real fast," I assured her.

"No." She was still standing at the doorway, staring distrustfully at the door, as if that crazy ole 'possum was going to tear it down any minute now.

I sighed with all the grace of a seven-year-old. "I'll knock it over with a stick."

"No, it'll get into the house and give us all rabies."

"How about this, I'll just open the door up a little bit, knock the can over with this broom handle and then shut the door real fast?"

No. The 'possum was going to magically dart into the house the moment the door opened, bite us all and give us all rabies and we'd evidently be dead before Dad even got home from work.

I rolled my eyes again. "Well then, you hold the door handle mostly shut against the broom handle. I'll knock the can over with the broom and then yank the handle back into the house and the pressure of you holding the door against the handle will shut the door before the 'possum can get in."

Now she's finally full-blown hysterical.
The 'possum was going to jump out of the trash can at the sound of the door, use its little hands to rip open the door because it was stronger than Mom and it would rip the doorknob right out of her hands, come into the house and, say it with me kids, "bite us all and give us rabies and kill us."

At that point, I decided my mother needed more help than a seven-year-old could give her and I walked off. She finally set the trash down next to the door and went off to call Dad, who, of course, did not leave work to chase away the nasty 'possum.

And I, of course, went outside as soon as possible to see if I could rid the trashcan of the 'possum and play hero (even though I knew I would get in trouble if I did it).

Stupid thing was already gone by the time I got outside.

That was the day, though, that I realized something wasn't right with my mom. I probably should have realized it before then, but hey, I was only seven after all. And it would be a long, long time even after this incident before I realized that there really wasn't much I could do to make her feel safe.

But I could always go back into the backyard, look at the trees, rocks, grass, critters and everything else and feel that all was right with the world.

Posted by Red Monkey at September 20, 2005 10:28 AM | Storytelling: She was, of course, supposed to be sleeping. | | StumbleUpon Toolbar Stumble |


crazydan said:

You made the mistake of asking mom... Touching animals with sticks is cool.

September 20, 2005 6:38 PM


Andy Ternay said:

Your mom obviously knows about the radioactive possums.

September 22, 2005 5:42 AM
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