My seventh grade Thanksgiving was something to remember, more different then any before or any yet since. It started off slow, had pain and suffering through the middle, and an ending that left us full of gratitude and a house that smelled for weeks. It definitely was an occasion that I hope stays a memory and does not refresh itself with even one of the offending events. Our house full of strangers, my brother and I had cooked the whole dinner, and there was the permeating perfume of skunk everywhere. You could almost get used to it and then you would forget and inhale too deeply through your nose. Gag!
Let's go back four days. Mom was working at a ship yard and a boat had come in with several sailors with no family to go to for thanksgiving. My mother felt bad for them and decided we could use their company as much as they could ours. So she informed us that she had invited several over for Thanksgiving and that we would need to really clean the house to help to welcome them.
Count down T-Minus three days to Thanksgiving. Mom is sewing my brothers pant up, right before school, we're almost late. She get in a hurry and then lets out a yelp and holds up her finger and the needle from the sewing machine is sticking out of both side of her right index finger. She goes to the doctor and they removed it and told her she can't cook, clean, or otherwise use her finger or get it wet. My two younger brothers and I met this information without too much concern. Mom was okay and dad can cook.
Down to two days to thanksgiving. Everyone is strung tight, there's going to be a lot of people showing up, everything needs to be really nice. Me and my brothers can not seem to stop arguing. Mom is ordering us around now and trying to get us all working on something(kind of like trying to herd cats). What is that I smelled? Is that the faint odor of skunk? While doing dishes that evening my brother and I were in rare form. Fighting, yelling and otherwise being nasty to each other. My dad, finally having enough growls “That's it!” and storms towards us. The kitchen was completely soaked from top to bottom, with water dripping off the ceiling. I could immediately tell that this was not a false run, dad's really irritated. He got within range and reached up for my brother at the exact moment he stepped into water. His momentum was too great. He suddenly shot forward in a half standing, half crouching, ice skating slide across the kitchen. It would have been comical if I didn't already know he meant to teach us some sense. Then, faster then the blink of an eye his glorious first attempt at ice skating ended. He fell and broke his arm on the cabinet on the way down. He went to the doctor and they put him in a cast and told him, no cooking, cleaning, or other wise using your right hand or arm.
The day before that most remarkable Thanksgiving. Now my brothers and I are quite concerned. With both mom AND dad out of commission all the cleaning and cooking is in our less then competent hands. Not good. By now the smell of skunk is fierce and my dad's disposition is close to that of a bear just left hibernation. My brother and I are arguing while peeling apples for an apple pie when dad comes in through the sliding door and announces that there is a skunk under the house in the proximity of his bedroom. I think it should be said that he showed unbelievable restraint by keeping the growling and tearing at his cloths to a minimum. Dad called one of his friends and procured a live trap, not wanting the skunk to by killed and, well, unleash under the house as it were. I watched with deep interest as dad filled the bait bin with canned dog food and then pushed the trap under the crawl space. We crossed our fingers.
Thanksgiving morning. D-day. We all pile outside in our pajamas to check the trap. Dad and mom don rain slickers from head to toe, complete with a hat. You know, the yellow kind. Mom warned us to stay back and dad opened the crawl space and sure enough, the beady eyed monster was staring out from inside the trap. Dad grabbed a plastic bag and slowly wrestled the trap out while placing the bag around it and a lively discussion took place about what to do with this house cat sized pain. I vote on a public execution with which my father vehemently agreed. But my mom and brother decided it was too cute to kill and needed to be humanely reintroduced to the wild. My poor dad is now so unamused he is talking to himself and twitching a little. We all load up in the car and go for a drive into the woods. My dad tried to stop in several driveways to which my mother told him “No, farther out hon. Wouldn't want this to happen to anyone else.”
Finally we find the spot and we all get out to watch. I would like to point out here that I expected something very exciting from the next few minutes and I was not disappointed. Dad gets the trap out of the car and puts it on the ground. Mom and dad, still in yellow rain gear, warn us to stand back. Dad pulled the bag from the trap and used a stick to open it. The skunk didn't move. Dad, now cussing, takes a whack at the back of the trap and the skunk chose that moment to play it's ace in the hole.
Springing from the trap like a convict suddenly set free, he shot across the dirt road straight at my mom and us kids. All four of us raised to new heights of fear, rose straight up into the air and shot in random directions I even ricocheted off of my brother once or twice while trying to find a skunk free place to go and we all decided simultaneously on the family van. The skunk skidded around a tree and headed for my dad who nearly climbed out of his slickers and broke the sound barrier while fleeing around the our family van with the skunk closely behind him. After two laps around the van the skunk ran up under the van and disappeared into the under carriage. My dad by then was gnashing his teeth and hitting the ground with the stick hard enough to break it several times. In his opinion the humor had long fled the situation. My hopes increased again for a public execution. Also it suddenly didn't seem so safe in the van. Dad paced the van twice looking under it from a distance hurling Skunky expletives the whole time. Finally he yelled “Pop the hood!” and mom did. Dad yanked the hood up and shoved his head in looking down near the ground. And there was the skunk, sitting on the battery less then three inches from my dad's head. The air was shattered by my dad's ear splitting shriek and the skunk jumped straight up in the air, higher then the hood and his little legs were making three hundred mile an hour revolutions when he hit the ground and sped off into the brush. Finally having enough of this crazy family and their shenanigans.
We drove in silence back to the house. Thanksgiving dinner went off without a hitch and we had several navy men over. Only one of them had a good sense of smell or maybe less social grace. He looked at me and said “Weirdest thing. I keep thinking it smells like skunk in here.” All I could do was smile and nod when I told him “Why yes, yes it does.”