There are few experiences in life that prepare you for this. I could be talking about the death of a loved one, or even the birth of a child. But what I actually am talking about is having your car sprayed by a skunk.
It’s something that no one ever looks forward to, and certainly that no one goes out and asks for. There’s a reason there is no such thing as “skunk” perfume, unless you’re a hunter or something. (Those guys spray and pour things on themselves that would make your hair stand up in places besides the back of your neck.)
Earlier this past summer I had escaped an episode as I was out for a walk. I spotted a baby skunk along the side of the road, and immediately thought that if there was a baby one, that meant there would be a mama one around. I immediately retreated and ended up walking past yet another baby skunk–meaning that the first skunk I’d seen was actually the second one I’d walked past! Luckily, no mama skunk in sight, and I just beat it home–free of nature’s perfumes or dyes, and grateful that I didn’t have to do hand-to-and combat with something that could bring me to my knees with a swift lift of her tail.
By comparison, President Obama has no greater power.
It all happened last fall as I was delivering meals to my guys in the field. We had just gotten a new car. Our van had 120,000-plus wrestling miles on it after six years of following our boys to their meets all over God’s creation, and it was beginning to give us trouble. We had never before stuck our necks out to get a brand new vehicle; after all, it’s nothing but second best for our familyand there was plenty of neck to stick out after all these years of never being brave enough to do it.
Anyway, I was driving along a gravel road in the dark, when out of nowhere a skunk ran out for an impromptu appearance right in front of the car. I had little to no time to react, so I gritted my teeth and sucked in most of the oxygen in the county as I prepared for impact with a very unattractive and odiferous creature that I still wonder why God created.
Nothing hit. Then it was like the ominous quiet after the storm.
“Awesome!” I thought. No dead skunk, no skunk smell on the car, I had NO problem.
I had ONE problem.
When I arrived at the field where my husband was working, I shut off the car and emerged with his supper feeling pretty good about my close calluntil I smelled it. Feeling like all was not to be lost, I approached my husband when the tractor and ripper got to that end of the field and asked, “Have you smelled skunk here in the last little bit?”
Not knowing that I had just had a run-in with one, he said he hadn’t smelled a skunk all day. Well, I’ve BEEN skunked, and I’ve smelled a skunk or two at my places of employment over the years. But dang it; the fact that he hadn’t smelled a skunk all day meant that the smell was coming from the car. My close call that I was so happy about turned out to be the passive-aggressive version of nostril helter-skelter.a spray & run, so to speak; a test of nose hairs versus beastand it was obnoxious as all get-out.
Well, the next day when I was in town, I watched people as they walked past the car. Truth be told, the smell was quite ripe by then, and dare I say that it was almost funny as I saw peoples’ faces go from one they wore as they were just walking along the sidewalk, to noticing that something was terribly wrong.
In the following days after the word got out, people knew when we had arrived somewhere.
“What’s that putrid smell?” some would ask with great fervor, knitted eyebrows and hands covering their noses, looking around as if to find a mummified something-or-other nearby.
“It’s just the Schwallers here,” would be the reply.from someone sitting far away.
Oh, the shame of it all. It’s enough to give a person a complex.
A trip to the car wash took care of some of the smell, but it still had a long way to go. We couldn’t even park the car in the garage for fear that it would take over and we would have to live in the barn like skunk-driven refugees.
Next time I’m going for the deer. At least I’ll have something to show for it besides shameand peoples’ backsides as they walk in the opposite direction of our car.
Schwaller is a Farm News correspondent from Milford. Reach her by e-mail at email@example.com
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