I smelled it as soon as I walked through the front door. That one-of-a-kind-forget-me-not smell. That worse than the worse ever smell that fumigates your car, nearly chokes you to death and lingers for miles and miles down the road. So, yeah. I knew there was a skunk in the house.
Like a bloodhound, I searched for the culprit. And there, sitting on the couch giggling like two mischievous imps, were my brothers playing with, not one but three, bushy-tailed baby skunks.
I like wild animals; even wanted a raccoon once. But never a skunk! But they were so cute. So, after much whining and pleading, my parents said we could keep them for a little while in a box outside.
Oh, the plans that we made for our baby critters. We’d name them and care for them and show them to our friends. We’d be the envy of the neighborhood. The talk of the town. The kids with the baby skunks.
The next day, however, the charm of owning a skunk soon wore off. So I decided to give mine to my best friend, Florence, who was older and more experienced at caring for animals. After all, she took in every stray dog in the neighborhood. And besides, it was her birthday.
But, for some odd reason, Florence wasn’t as thrilled about receiving the cute little guy as I was giving it to her. And her mother was even less thrilled. I could tell by the way the house shook, and the windows rattled when she yelled, “Get that thing out of my house!”
Mrs. Morgenstern served four years in the Waves, had tattoos on both of her muscular arms, and was as intimidating as a Grizzly Bear. Not even the Godfather would have had the guts to question her authority.
“I just wanted to give it to Florence for her birthday,” I whimpered. “Besides, he doesn’t have a stink bag yet.”
“GET THAT THING OUT OF MY HOUSE!”
She must have scared the little guy, cause on the way home, he bit me.
Then he bit me again.
This time, he wasn’t fooling. I jerked my hand away and, landing safely on all fours, he raised his bushy tail and fired!
Suddenly, like a mud-wallowing pig, I was saturated from head to toe with an indescribable, eye-watering, breathtaking stench of awful that I never want to smell up close again!
A normal kid would have left it there.
But I wasn’t a normal kid.
Covering my mouth and nose with one hand and grabbing the back of the skunk’s neck with the other, I ran home. No, I flew home!
Confused and nearly blinded by the ghastly fumes, I staggered into the kitchen, where my dad sat eating a bowl of cereal.
He was a Clint Eastwood kinda guy; fearless, quiet and reserved. Even now, standing before him, feeling like an idiot smelling worse than a cesspool with a baby skunk dangling from my hand, he never flinched. Barely batted an eye. Motionless as a corpse. And as if he needed the slightest explanation, I whimpered, “He sprayed me, daddy.”
Calmly, he took a bite of cereal and said, “You need to take it outside.”
Mom stripped me down and nearly threw me into the tub of hot, soapy water, where I scrubbed and sniffed till my skin was blood-red, and my nose was burning. But like a tick on a dog, the stink had latched on and was there to stay for who knows how long.
That evening, I went to Florence’s birthday party.
Everyone kept their distance but was nice enough not to tell me I stunk like a skunk.
I was back in Mrs. Morgenstern’s graces and never took another skunk to her house again.
My brothers and I set the skunks free.
And if someone ever tells you, baby skunks don’t have a stink bag. . . don’t believe it!