Playing Possum

When threatened, a possum will pretend to be either asleep or unconscious.  It will not run away.  It will NOT move.  I’ve heard this expression a million times over the course of my life.  Last night, I learned the truth. 

At 5:45 I parked my car in the garage.  I entered the house after a long day at the office, said hello to my fellas.  The Hubs asked, “Was the garage door open when you pulled up?”  I replied, “No, why?”  Ominously he said, “I thought I saw something in there earlier.”  Of course, neither of us did anything about that.  We just shrugged, like maybe someone else will figure it out, as if we aren’t the heads of the household. 

Forty five minutes later, as I sat editing an email at my office desk, a clamoring came from the garage.  “I thought I saw something in there” floated through mind; I quickly ignored it, and returned to editing.  I checked my watch and noticed it was time to leave to pick up The Goose from volleyball and drop Mister at basketball.  I hollered, “MISTER!  GET READY FOR BASKETBALL!”  I heard him busy about upstairs, no doubt styling his hair and looking for his shoes.  He came down to the office and said, “I’m going to grab a Gatorade and my ball.”  He opened the door, stomped up the garage stairs, and then bellowed, “OHHH MYYY GAAAHHHHH”.  Stomp. Stomp. Stomp. Door. Slam.

I jumped up from the desk as he huffed and puffed his way back into the house, white as a ghost, trying to catch his breath.  I said, “Buddy – what’s wrong?" He replied, “There’s….there’s…there’s somethin’ in the garage.” I said, “Oh,” as if this was new information, “what do you think you saw?”  He said, “It was like furry, white and black, spiky fur.”  I said, “Oh no! You think it was a skunk?”  He said, “No, yes, I don’t know mom.” 

We charged upstairs to talk to Dad.  As we walked he talked me through each step as he entered the garage and saw the critter.  “It was behind the wood pile and it darted out across over by the toys or fridge or somewhere.”  He shared his experience with his father and noted, “It had a tail like a hairless cat – a long, hairless tail.”  Possum. 

It’s important to note here that The Hubs was in bed because he was preparing for a long night of work ahead.   He planned to get out of bed around 10:30 pm to be at work by 11:30 pm; he did not want to get out of bed a moment sooner.  The possum’s entrance in the evening was not on the schedule; I didn’t even have the heart to ask him to look for the possum, I rushed the boy’s coats on, headed out the door, and into the car.  But, because he is a good dad, he followed us out the door. He grabbed a broom and started poking it around the million places a critter could happily find warmth in our garage: woodpile, ball box, toy shelves, under the four wheeler, behind the fridge, within the mountain of bikes.  We sat safely in the car, watching him thrash about the place, wildly like only an angry dad can.  Nothing ever happened.  No critter emerged. 

We went about our evening schedule.  Dad returned to bed, leaving the garage door open. I did the drop at basketball, pick up at volleyball, drop friend from volleyball, drop daughter from volleyball, return to pick up basketball player, and back to the blasted garage.  We had hoped, upon our return, we would see tracks in the snow indicating the welcome departure of the possum.  No such luck. Mister said, “We gotta get this guy outta here.” 

We went in the house and he formulated his plan of attack, while I reiterated my “let’s leave the garage door open long enough for him to see himself out” theory.  “No, Mom, I’ll put on boots so if he attacks he can’t get to my skin as easy.”  He opened the door, grabbed the broom as he’d seen The Dad do, and started poking around the garage.  “I SEE HIM!”

GULP.  Unenthusiastically, I asked, “where?”  He said, “Right there – behind the red box.”  He poked and poked at that possum and guess what it did?  NADA.  Heart racing, I snuck around to the front of the garage, and peeked at the possums suggested location.  There it was.  A white, frightened (or frightening depending on which camp you’re in) face just stared at me. 

Then, one good poke and Mister yelped, “HOLY SHIIIIIIII – it’s tail is so strong!” He poked the tail, and it poked back and that was the end of our adventure in the garage (hallelujah).  Decidedly he announced, “Yeah, let’s just leave the garage open for a while.”  Of course I locked the door to the house because I’ve seen Over the Hedge, so I know those little monsters have nimble thumbs. 

This morning, our possum hunt continued before school.  It did not help with our morning timeline and we cannot confirm if there is or is not a possum in our garage.  But we can confirm, the expression “playing possum” closely aligns with the actual behavior of a real possum. 

To be continued – or maybe not; we can’t be sure. 

1 comment:

Mary D said...

Now that is a great story! Almost as good as the dead (raccoon?) under the stoop in Downers Grove!! Our family has a bent toward really crazy stories, must be genetic!