A few weeks ago I was sitting at my pub table in my breakfast nook when a yellow jacket flew in through the open window. The screens have long ago disappeared from these 80-year-old windows, and it’s kind of a miracle I can open any windows at all. Whenever my neighbors come over, they always express jealousy at my open windows. And whenever I visit my neighbors’ smelly, stuffy apartments, I thank the Lord that I got The One With Windows That Open.
I’ve got this intense fear of flying, stinging insects. I’ve got an intense fear of all insects, really, but mainly the kind that look really gross (spiders) and the kind that can and will hurt me for no reason at all. The kind that can hurt me, look really gross, and fly in unpredictable patterns are pretty much the trump card of Things I’m Afraid Of. They always fly right at me. They can sense my fear. My fear is unacceptable to them, and they let me know it.
I fled to my bedroom, where I stood whimpering for a while. Then I came to the terrible realization that I would have to take care of the situation myself.
The role of Insect Killer was one of Cautionary Husband’s most important roles. I would huddle in a ball on the other side of the house and yell “Don’t kill it!” He would, of course, quietly kill it and dispose of it, and then he’d come get me and tell me that he got it outside without having to kill it, and I’d pretend to believe him. Because while I hate insects, I don’t believe that they should have to die simply because they had the terrible misfortune of finding their way into my presence. They just need to, you know, LEAVE.
The yellow jacket would likely not leave of its own accord, so I picked up a flip-flop and crept back into the breakfast nook. It was crawling around on the stool, in and out of the slats that make up the seat. Its wings were jagged. After I stood there for a while whining to Cautionary Dog about how much I DID NOT WANT TO DO THIS, the yellow jacket crawled up through a slat, perched on a solid spot on the stool, and I thwacked it two or twenty times until I was sure it was dead. And then I told it I was sorry and gave it a burial out the window it flew in.
A few nights ago I had just turned out the light and was beginning the long process of unloading my restless mind so that I could find sleep at a halfway-decent hour when I heard an odd popping sound. Like plastic bouncing against plastic. I got up to investigate. I thought it was the a/c somehow blowing the plastic ends of the blind cord against the blinds in the bathroom, but they were still. I realized the sound was coming from my kitchen, and when I turned around the corner and flipped on the light, there, in the middle of my kitchen, was a possum. He (I’m assuming it’s a he) looked at me for a few seconds, and then crept through a hole in the baseboards under the kitchen sink. His tail slid through the crack segment by segment until it disappeared from sight.
I stood there for a bit with my head cocked, said, “huh,” turned off the light, and walked to my bedroom, where I called Cautionary Husband.
“I just found a, um, possum, in my kitchen.”
“A possum?” Are you sure it wasn’t a rat?”
“Did it have a fat tail or a thin tail?”
“Thin? I don’t know. What kind of question is that?”
“Well, how do you know it wasn’t a rat?”
“It had a flat, white face and a black snout, and it looked right at me.”
“You have to call your landlord. He has to kill it.”
“No! Why? Can’t he just cover up the little hole?”
“It’ll go to the neighbor’s apartment. He has to kill it. Come sleep here. You can’t sleep there.”
“No. I’ll take care of it.”
And I did take care of it. By putting a mug in front of the hole and hoping that I never wake up to a morning in which the mug is moved.
Hasn’t happened yet, anyway.