‘Out! Out! Damned …’

A&M Books

They say that good fences make good neighbors. Not on my street. We love our neighbors. Although in this case, a big bottle of Febreeze might make better neighbors.

One day during July 4th week I saw several cars on my neighbors’ driveway, figured they were in town and walked across the street to find them. There, in the garage, stood Neighbor One and a pal, each holding a black and white furry baby in their arms. The women wore sly smiles.

“Want a kitten?” asked Neighbor One.

I eyed the long bushy tails on the fur babies suspiciously. “What are they, baby skunks?” I asked warily.

“Yes,” said the pal, who was volunteering for some kind of wildlife rehab organization. “Aren’t they cute?”

“Yes, but aren’t they going to spray you? How can you just hold them like that?”

“Oh, they’re too young to spray yet,” said the volunteer. “We’ve been holding them for a half hour and they’re fine. Want to hold one?”

I held out my hands, and cradled one of the pointy-nosed, bright-eyed cuties in my arms. The little bastard looked up at me, and, apparently struck by sudden puberty, let loose with some sort of aerosol from his butt and eeewwwwwww!

I tossed junior back to the volunteer, just as the girls started wrinkling their noses and backing away from me. Step away from the Fay.

I’ve been skunked before, by a contractor who failed to finish a job or my sister who usually sticks me with the check, but this was getting skunked in the stinkily literal sense.

Peee-eewwww! I stood there, reeking. “Why me? “ I looked at the two women still holding black and white fur balls.” You’ve been cuddling these skunklets for a half hour and nothing. He takes one look at me and hurls a stink bomb. So much for them being too young to vote. Shit.”

“It’s not so bad,” said the volunteer, “it will go away in a minute. He’s just a baby.” I bent down and wiped my hands on a towel on the garage floor and then sniffed my palms. Auugghhh!

At which point Neighbor Number Two entered the garage saying “Omigod. I’d know that smell anywhere!” Getting the gist of what happened, she said “You have to get those clothes off, and not over your head or your hair will stink. And don’t even put them in the trash, you have to find a dumpster, or burn them. Omigod.”

And with that she grabbed a scissors, saying “Here, I’m going to help you,” and cut my new golf shirt down the back and started to peel it off me.

“Wait, I have to get across the street first,” I hollered, understanding that our road is a busy cut-through for traffic and not wanting to be in the newspaper as the Seaside Drive Lady Godiva. That could have caused a pile up or two.

So I started hauling butt across the street, my shirt flapping open in the back like a hospital gown. Neighbor Two caught up with me, walking behind me to keep me decent. When I hit my driveway, she retreated, I opened the garage door, closed it (this is important) and stripped. It’s a very odd feeling standing buck naked in your own garage, stuffing your clothes in a plastic bag and sealing the bag like it contains Anthrax.

So I went inside, showered twice, lathered, rinsed and repeated ad nauseum and finally emerged in clean clothes. Most of me was okay, but my right palm still had an eau d’ skunklet aroma.

Recalling the old wives’ advice to wash in tomato juice when you are skunk sprayed, I grabbed a bottle from the cabinet, put some ice, vodka and the tomato juice in a glass and had a few sips. Then, I stood over the sink and poured the remaining tomato juice over my hands. Handwringing ensued – perhaps over how many Bloody Marys died in this process.

During the next several hours I crossed my palm with Febreeze, Glade solid, Ban Deodorant and a variety of hand creams. Honestly, there is just a hint of skunk aroma left. I imaging it will dissipate before we next have to shake hands.

I suspect that “They’re too young to spray” now belongs in the hall of fame with “You can’t get pregnant the first time” and “the check’s in the mail.”

When Bonnie came home and heard the story she banished me to the porch until she was sure there was an all-clear. Out there, I paced like Lady Macbeth, rubbing my hands together, channeling some crazed Shakespearian, staring at my palm and yelling “Out! Out! Damned Skunk.” Just to be safe, I had another Bloody Mary for internal protection and soaked my palm in some more tomato juice. Perhaps Clamato would have been better. Darn, I could have had a V8.

When Bonnie and Moxie agreed that I passed the sniff test, I was allowed back in the house. In the ensuing days I discovered that half the lesbians in Rehoboth had been playing with those skunk babies, and nobody but me got spritzed. A personal July 4th detonation. Lucky me.

No harm, no foul, except for the loss of a great golf shirt, a ridiculously expensive brassiere and my pride. It’s tough knowing you’re the only one who got skunked. But hell, I choose to think of it as a gift from that stinky little fellow. He made my Letters from Camp Rehoboth deadline a no brainer. Thanks, little buddy. Sing with me. “Arrivederci, Aroma…”

Fay Jacobs is an award-winning and bestselling author (“As I Lay Frying—A Rehoboth Beach Memoir”), LGBT activist and schnauzer enthusiast. She’s also the publisher of A&M Books and contributing writer and Artistic Director for “Letters from Camp Rehoboth.”

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