It’s a wonderful world when you have an ex-husband keeping you in stitches while you are trying to divest yourself of your current one. Jack, my handsome Prince Charming, has been regaling me with all kinds of recollections of our hysterical eight years together. This one broke through the cobwebs of my memory when he reminded me of a mouse in the kitchen of our NYC penthouse.
“Hoppin John and the Party Poopers” tells the story of how we found our little waterfront bungalow on Long Island in 1981, complete with all manner of critters inhabiting it. Months later, the ground had thawed and we were ready to have central heating and air installed. For technical reasons I can’t recall, the only viable way to do this was to have a giant tunnel dug under the house so that the duct work could be placed. No matter how hard he searched, our contractor couldn’t find anyone willing to crawl on his back in the August heat and dig out these trenches amongst the spiders and God knows what else living under there.
One day he triumphantly announced he had found a live and willing body who would do this for $500; that was the good news. The bad news was that the man had just gotten out of prison and desperately needed work, any work. We cautiously agreed and spent our nights praying we wouldn’t be found murdered in our beds. The project was moving along, when one early pitch-black Monday morning, the alarm shrilled that it was time to get ourselves on the L.I.E. and back to our jobs in NYC. Half asleep, I stumbled out of bed and crossed the hardwood floors of our bedroom to fumble for the light switch. Suddenly I heard a scratching noise and something EXTREMELY heavy, furry, and with huge claws ambled over my right foot. When the lights came on we saw that a huge possum had gotten into the house and had come casually sauntering out of my closet at the same moment I crossed the floor.
This thing was gigantic, with curved talons and wicked teeth. It didn’t look like it was interested in making our acquaintance. Jack and I were screaming at the top of our lungs, and running to and fro trying to find anything with a long handle to banish him, while staying out of his way. “You have to do something. Get him out of here!” Poor Jack was as sleepy and freaked out as I was and kept shrugging his shoulders, saying “What should I do?” We certainly didn’t want to smash him to bits on our brand new hardwood floors, so shooing him out seemed the least homicidal option. Jack wasn’t moving with the gusto I thought the situation required, so, as he scooted the critter through the living room door into our screen porch, I slammed the door behind him and locked it.
He pleaded for me to let him back into the house while he held Possum Boy at bay with a broom. “We could just leave him here and when we get back Thursday night he’ll probably to dead.”
Visions of the damage those claws and teeth could do to our newly stripped and repainted walls and windows and our beautiful porch furniture made this a bad option. “Jack, you are not getting back through this door until you get that thing out of our house!” The look on his face was priceless as he realized that, prior to battling the legendary traffic on the Long Island Expressway for the next three hours, he would first have to exile this creature to the back yard. I was bent over double laughing at the Jack/Possum ballet that played out before me, until finally, half an hour later, the deed was done.
Turns out our ex-convict had not closed off an opening from the crawl space into the house. God knows, we could have had an entire Noah’s Ark in there with us before the weekend was finished, so I guess just one possum really wasn’t sooo bad.
My sweet friend Sheila Waters posts witty and amusing daily quotes on her Facebook page. Sheila is the possessor of the ghosts in “The Empty Swing” story I told you at Halloween. Today’s quote is unusually timely:
Don’t let negative and toxic people
rent space in your head.
Raise the rent and
kick them out.
Tune in next time for “The Disappearance of Weighty Katie”.
Feature photo from marriedandflirtingchat.com