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Sunday, April 6, 2014

The Skunkades

“Wake up! Wake up!” screamed my wife as her hands shook my shoulders.
“Mmmm…” I moaned, with my nose slowly scrunching up in confusion.
“Something’s on fire!” she exclaimed.
I was in a deep sleep and my brain was struggling to process her fussing.
“Damn midgets…” I mumbled as my brain struggled to grab hold of reality.
“Fire!” screamed the wife.
In a flash—my body launched from the bed, and I thrust Genevieve off me like a rag doll. Her body went crashing into the wall as I sprinted toward the stairway.
My young son looked on with fear, and he extended his arms toward me in anticipation of being saved. Instead I summoned Walter Payton from the grave and placed my palm on the child’s forehead, stiff-arming him to the floor and clearing my path to safety.
As I fled down the stairs, my 7-pound Yorkie-Poo stood between me and the doorway. I picked up the small hound and used his fuzzy frame to cover my mouth from the smoke’s wrath. With the dog twitching wildly in my grasp, I broke though the door and…
“Honey! Wake Up!” my wife screamed once again.
“Huh? What?” I mumbled, “I’m not a coward…”
“Wake up you idiot!”
I sat up from my pillow, relieved it was just a dream. I wasn’t George Costanza after all.
“What’s going on? What’s that smell?” I asked.
“I don’t know, I think something’s on fire!” suggested my wife.
It was a rancid stench, like somebody was burning tires in our home. It was unlike anything we had smelled before and we hurried downstairs to investigate.
We spent the next half hour inspecting every inch of our home, but I could detect nothing out of the ordinary.
“Steve! It’s a skunk!” bellowed the enraged wife, “Google says it’s a damn skunk!”
That was four years ago, and as first-time skunk victims we were confused and shell-shocked. After hours of research and consideration, it was determined that a family of skunks had burrowed under a pine tree and beneath our porch. It was there that they unleashed their odorous fury.
The stink-bomb carried deep into every crevice of our nest and it was the official beginning of The Skunkades—a four year war of good vs. evil—and my home was the battlefield.
My wife and I took the day off from work to put the pieces of our life back together. The horror stories from the internet suggested a month-long journey to recovery. We spent the whole day scrubbing the stink from our walls and floors, washing our laundry, and steaming our carpets.
“What’s your deal with midgets, anyway?” asked my wife, as she dipped her sponge into the bucket.
“What are you talking about?”
“That’s like the fifth time you’ve talked about midgets in your sleep…and like…in a really derogatory way.”
Our only break from the misery was when we picked up our son early from school. He was deemed too smelly to participate and was escorted from the premises.
The whole episode was a haunting experience. While the internet paranoia proved to be over-blown, the presence of skunk lingered in our home for two weeks.
I remember thinking it was finally over during a business trip to Connecticut. I attended a vendor show for my employer at the time, and didn’t realize how bad all my marketing materials smelled until it was too late. I spent more time suggesting the odor came from the neighboring booth than I did discussing my company’s product. It was a brutal day.
After everything settled down, I assured my wife I’d take the necessary steps to prevent this debacle from happening again. I knew the skunks would flee the den in April, and it was only a matter of sealing up the hole and taking measures to keep them out for good.
Unfortunately, I didn’t do a damn thing as the painful memories faded into obscurity and the year quickly passed into a new winter.
“No!” she screamed, “not again!”
My wife was disgusted with me. It was a year later and we were reliving the same nightmare.
“I want those little shits dead!” she demanded.
They were surprising words to hear from the same woman who routinely swerved into oncoming traffic to avoid rabbits in the street.
That year, I had two tons of river rock dumped in my driveway. I was confident—between the heavy rocks atop our garden beds and all the tuna I sprinkled near my neighbor’s porch—the skunks would find a new home.
But there was no such luck. They had created a penthouse under my home and had no intention of leaving any time soon. The Skunkades continued into year three.
The third year was the worst, as the skunks blasted us not only once, but rather four separate times.
The war reached its climax in the summer of 2012, when Ripley (our dog) tried to make friends with Pepe Le Pew in the back yard. Needless to say, he was violated—and Genevieve was not pleased.
You have to understand, when it comes to our dog—she says things like, “who’s a gonna be my babiest baby?”
This latest attack was her final straw and she hunted the animal outside for an hour with a baseball bat.
“Come out! Show your face!” she shouted into the dark summer night.
Unable to track down the enemy, she turned her attention to cleaning up our pup. She bathed him in a solution of hydrogen peroxide, baking soda and dish detergent. Ripley normally has dark black hair, but he emerged from the bath looking like Ponyboy Curtis on the run.
The wife was furious. “They must die! Or we have to move!”
I knew it was time to bring in the professionals. We found a wise-looking elderly man, a decorated veteran of many skunk captures.
“If you got skunks, I’ll catch’em,” he assured us.
But the days went on, and no skunks were captured.
“We just have to be patient, we’ll get them,” I promised my wife.
“I don’t want him released into the wild either! I want him executed!” she steamed.
“No, no, better yet,” she continued, “we’ll interrogate his ass! We will water-board him until he gives up the others!”
She was losing her mind and time was running short. Two weeks had passed and still we had no skunks.
“Well, I guess you ain’t got no skunks,” suggested the old geyser, “or I’d a gotten ‘em like I says I would.”
I knew the only way to solve this problem was to cut down my pine trees and bury chicken wire around my porch. It was a nightmare project that I kept delaying all year until winter approached once again. I decided to pray for divine intervention instead.
It turns out God doesn’t help with skunks. It was February 2013, and my wife and I lay awake, victims of a midnight skunk assault for the fourth consecutive year.
“Can you just hold me,” she whispered with tears of defeat rolling down her eyes.
It was then that I decided to finally man up. It was a brutal job, but I made the decision to cut down my pine trees and dig a trench around my porch. I buried multiple layers of chicken wire deep under ground, bolted to the base of my porch and extending under the garden beds five feet from the house.
It is with great pride that I formally announce the end of The Skunkades. We have made it through the 2014 skunk season without a single attack. The demons have been driven from our home.
Sure, It was sad when I looked out the window last month and saw our neighbor on her knees in the backyard—her arms stretched toward the sky.
“Why! Why God!” screeched her muffled voice through the window panes.
“Awe, that’s sad,” quipped the wife, “would you mind shutting the blinds?”

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