I can pull it off pretty well in public, being normal. In my real life as a designer, I seem okay. My big southern hair is usually in place, I often wear lipstick and matching clothes. I like to wear shoes that cause other women to rethink their entire lives. I like earrings sparkly enough to make Amish women sin in their hearts. All normally goes well until I’m consulting with a client, slip up and something like this tumbles out, “I LOVE dark stain on a floor with a high gloss finish. I have that myself. It usually looks great but yesterday, after I mopped, the stinkin’ oposum climbed up in the dishwasher, got her feet all wet, and tracked it all over the floor”. Uh huh, that awkward silence that lets me know this was outside the parameters of what my clients were expecting when they contracted for design services. What I do in my “other life” has crept into my big girl life and I’m getting that look from a volvo driving client who is over her head at home with just her goldendoodleschnitzapoo.
Several years ago, I got my wildlife rehabilitation license from the GA DNR because people just kept bringing injured animals to me just because I have a barn, opossums among them. And it’s true, we did have an opossum who lived in our house for years. I retrieved her on a rehab call with her bottom jaw stuck in a fence. She was so glad to receive my help that she snapped and growled her appreciation throughout the entire removal process. Although I knew I should probably euthanize her, I worked on her for weeks. She lost a good portion of her lower jaw giving her an overbite and a lisp that would have made Drew Barrymore proud.
Glamorously named Jawbone, she refused all attempts for release and found every possible way to get into the house. Periodically, I would look up to find her reclining on my 18th century living room sofa with the $200 yard velvet, with her tail curled provocatively around her while she opened up a $6.00 truffle I refused to let my kids eat unless a special occasion rolled around.
My daughter was in high school at the time and threatened law suits, emancipation and/or dressing me polyester and not plucking my whiskers when I get old if the secret ever got out. Once, when she brought a new boy home and he was standing in the kitchen Jawbone sauntered through the dining room behind him. There was a moment of panicked filled eye swearing while JB continued through the kitchen, daintily plucked a treat from the cat’s dish and continued on in what I can assume was an errand of the utmost importance. The boy never knew what happened, although I have put aside money in a special fund for epilation after age 65.
I love opossums. I can’t understand why they are abhorred by people everywhere. They could be the mascot for the south. They’re not rodents, they’re marsupials, just like a kangaroo, the only ones in North America. They don’t carry disease, they’re slow and steady and eat all the garbage in the world. I love anyone who will clean up after themselves and have yet to train anyone one or any animal in my family to do so. They’re slow, I admit, but cause no harm and only hiss and drool because they’re afraid. They almost never bite and will occasionally do that really cool thing and get quiet and play dead, a great talent for anyone.
Great southern women have big hearts for all living things. Southern women are not namby pamby, scardy cats who faint when a ground hog climbs up on our porch. We don’t hesitate to get out of our cars, in our high heeled shoes and move a turtle across the road, flippin’ our hair while we save a life.
Show me a woman who is afraid of an opossum and I’ll bet she’ll be the same woman who will refuse to dress up in a prom dress after a glass or two of wine. Give me a woman with an opossum in her house and I’ll show you a woman who will blurt out something at a party that will cause her mother to alert the prayer chain. Now, that’s fun.