Monthly Archives: November 2015

The Great Skunk Shoot of 2015 or; Another Day in Redneckistan

In Korea, I had two students that I thought were brother and sister for the longest time.  Turned out they were actually cousins.  There was only a year age difference between them, and their families lived together.  They called each other “cousin-brother” and “cousin-sister” in Korean.  I gather that this is normal for Korean cousins who are close in age, as family is pretty much the only thing for them.

I have two technical cousin-brothers – there’s only about three years from me to Tyler with Ryan in between.  We played together a lot growing up.  They have an older brother, Ike, and he’s a bit older than us.  Now that we’re all grown up and “responsible” adults or whatever, I’m closer to Ike than I am to Ryan or Tyler, and that’s just a result of similar personalities, I think.

Ike’s wife, Erin, once said that we’re an awful lot alike, which I guess is probably true.  That seems normal to me.  For one thing, we were basically raised by the same guy (don’t tell my uncle that because I think he’d be mildly offended to think he was that much like my grandpa).  For another, I mean, hell, we are related.  There’s a certain “fuck you, leave me alone, don’t touch my shit” attitude that runs strong in the Howe family.  Maybe not as strong as it used to, but it’s there.  Also the Howe hearing.  Might be bad genetics, might be selective hearing, probably a combination of the two.  Either way, we both have it.

Whatever the case, we get along, probably better than most.  We both appreciate the fact that really, when you get right down to it, you really can’t beat a cold one on the golf cart while you troll around the subdivision talking political philosophy and seeing what crazy shit Lloyd has put out on the burn pile past the lake.  Sound boring?  You’d be amazed at the fun you can have on a golf cart ride to the burn pile.

The moral of the beginning of the story is that I’m pretty good buddies with my cousin – I like to think of him as my cousin-brother, since I don’t have a real brother – and Erin is pretty cool, too.

It was the weekend before the Fourth, and the herd and I (sans ex, by that point) were out at Southbrooke for whatever reason.  Maybe I was out to celebrate the fact that I’d sold my lot across the road from their house.  (I’d been sitting on that thing way too freaking long, and the taxes were a bitch for something I’d long since realized I wouldn’t have the money to build on for several more years and would never get an actual profit from.)  Whatever the case, we were out there on a hot summer afternoon, probably not doing any particular thing. As sometimes happens when we’re there late afternoon, we ended up hanging around for dinner.

This is the part where I interject and say that Southbrooke/Mallard Lake is a country subdivision.  It’s on the edge of town, surrounded by cornfields.  The area out towards South Main has built up an awful lot over the past several years, but past the railroad tracks, it still feels like country.  And is as often the case when you’re out in the country, there are critters.

This past year there have been a lot of coyotes.  They (the subdivision board) went so far as to hire a tracker to find them because one of them mauled someone’s dog one evening.  Turned out they were crossing right through Ike and Erin’s yard.  Figures.  I don’t think they ever did get the coyotes, but there are still plenty of other animals out there: geese, foxes, rodents of various types, and best of all, et cetera.  Because you never really know.  My aunt thought she saw Bigfoot on the railroad tracks.  Yeah, you read that right.  Bigfoot.  On the railroad tracks.  Best if you don’t over-think it.

Anyway, we had all just sat down to dinner at the dining room table.  You can see out into the yard through the sliding doors, and as I was eating, I noticed that the leaves on one of their vegetable plants was shaking around.  I figured it was probably the wind, but my eye kept going back to it.

And then a skunk popped out from under the leaves.  And I went full redneck.

“Look, y’all!  There’s a skunk in yer yard!”  I pointed like there was really something to gawk at.

It’s a good thing nobody was standing by the door because they would’ve been trampled by the entire family.  The boys were pressed against the windows like there was candy outside.

“Xander!  Where’s my phone?!  Get the phone!  Call Lloyd!”

There was more stomping around, and here comes Xander with the phone.  Ike calls Lloyd, and we all stand there staring at this skunk like it’s Bigfoot on the railroad tracks.  It’s waddling towards the deck… waddling…and it’s gone. Under the deck.  Right by the fire pit.

After some debate with Lloyd, Ike finally agrees with Xander that we need to “get the gun.”  Maybe not the 9mm, but the .22 should work.  (Xander comes from the school of bringing a bazooka when a .22 will do the job.  Because you can never kill it too dead.)

Ike comes back with the .22 and proceeds to show me his “pest control rounds.”  I look at him dubiously because I was raised in a house where the .22’s were the pest control rounds.  But whatever.  Not my bullets, not my gun, and not my turf.  Stand and defend, son.

So we all sit there behind the safety of the glass and wait.  And wait.  We think maybe the thing won’t be back out for an hour, but then it comes waddling back out.  With a baby.

“Oh God, it’s got a baby.  Can I shoot it if it’s got a baby?” Ike asks.

I look at him like he’s nuts.  “It’s a fucking skunk!” I reply.  “There’s no moral dilemma here.  She will spray the minute you get too close, and if she’s living under the deck… Should make for an awesome Fourth of July cookout.”

Well, apparently the moral compass swung back my way.  Here he goes out onto the deck.  We slam the door behind him (courageous supporters that we are) and watch.  He goes down the top part of the deck like he’s on special ops or something.  Safe distance… Aim… Pop!

Skunk jumps about three feet straight off the ground and releases a cloud of yellow piss-looking stuff into the air.  Disgusting.  I mean, honestly.  Baby falls over dead.  So much for that moral dilemma.

Round one is gone.  Five shots left.  So he starts popping off at the mama.  She holds her ground, hissing and making whatever weird noises skunks make.  Kinda like cats, really.  Anyway, she just won’t fucking die.  No more rounds.

Skunk bum-rushes him.

So here comes my cousin, six foot three, 37 years old, the one holding a gun, running up the deck at top speed like a little girl with a skunk running after him.  We clear off, he throws the door open, and then he slams it shut behind.

Skunk slinks back under the deck.

“You’re a disgrace,” I say flatly.

“It’s under the freaking deck!  It’s going to die under there!” Erin says.

“Or sit and plot its revenge.  You killed the baby,” I add.  Insert dirty look here. “Well, you know you can’t come back from killing its kids!  What’s in those freaking pest control rounds, anyway?”

“They’re like pellets… It’s more like buckshot, I guess,” he says.

“Twenty-twos are pest control rounds!  You could have popped it off the first time!” I exclaim.

“Should’ve used the nine millimeter,” Xander chimes in.

“We’d be cleaning skunk guts out of the yard for a week if we used the nine millimeter,” Erin says.  Xander proceeds to tell us why that would be acceptable, given the coolness of exploding skunk to gut cleanup ratio.

“Well, what do we do now?  It’s under the deck.”

“It’s probably got a nest by the fire pit or something.”

“Maybe we can trap it… Lloyd has traps…”

“How are we going to get rid of the baby?  You know it smells like crap.”

“Maybe the coyotes will get it tonight.”

“Do you think coyotes are interested in stinky skunk meat?”

“I mean, it’s worth a shot.  Might save us having to go out there and throw the carcass in the cornfield or into the lake or whatever.”

“Do you think she’s pissed?  That I killed the baby?”

“I think she’s under there… Refilling her stink sac… Plotting… Plotting…”

“I better tell Lloyd that there’s a murderous skunk on the loose.”

“That thing better be dead by the Fourth.  I don’t think anyone wants to watch the fireworks smelling like skunk butt.”

Well, the skunk was never seen or heard from again.  Some say it died under the deck, but you think there’d have been a telltale odor.  The rest of us think it slunk off somewhere else to die, possibly from its wounds, possibly from a broken heart.  Nobody got skunked on the Fourth.  The coyotes were not interested in stinky skunk meat.  I think it got flung into the cornfield, maybe.

That’s what dinner is like in Redneckistan, and that’s what happens when you bring useless bullets to a skunk fight.  We’re all still laughing about the Great Skunk Shoot of 2015, and Ike is still taking heat for not only failing to kill it at point-blank range but then running away like a pansy.  I mean, nobody was expecting him to bludgeon it to death with the pistol, but still.

When I told Harry, he immediately texted Ike: “BABY KILLER!”

And somewhere in the great outdoors in the sky, Trusler Howe is shaking his head in utter disgust and saying, as he often did, “You gotta be kiddin’ me.”


Hard Times

I’ve thought about writing this post for a long time.  I probably shouldn’t, but I think it might be cathartic, at this point.

My husband and I are divorcing.  Ex-husband.  I have no idea how far away we are from the whole thing being finalized, but I already refer to him as my ex-husband.  No part of me wants anything to do with being married to him.  I started calling him my ex the day he left.

The point of writing this is not to bitch about how long divorce takes (too fucking long) or how expensive it is (too fucking expensive) or how shitty he can be.  I could write long, long posts about all of those things, but I’m not going to.  Not right now, anyway.  Probably never.  Everyone knows divorce is a dirty whore, that attorneys are scum-sucking bottom feeders who make too much money, and exes are usually the stuff of nightmares.

We’re divorcing because we were a horrible fit.  Because I’m not tidy enough.  Because he’s not sociable.  Because he obsesses about things that don’t matter.  Because sometimes I just honestly am an unpleasant loner.  Because no matter what anyone says, young kids will stress you to the breaking point, especially if your marriage wasn’t that great to begin with.  The honest truth is that we probably – okay, definitely – should never have gotten married.  I’m grateful that I got the girls out of it and literally nothing else.

He has gone back to the U.K.  He doesn’t see his kids except via Skype.  It’s extremely confusing to Brett, who is the only one who can really remember having him around.

I still work full time at the same job.  The girls go to the babysitter my cousins used. I get up at the crack of dawn to shower, get myself ready, get the girls ready, get everyone out the door and to the sitter, and then I usually slide into my chair at work just in the nick of time or about five minutes late.  My boss was once a single mother of three and takes pity on me.

Parker still doesn’t sleep through the night.  The only time I’ve gotten a full night’s sleep was the couple of times that my aunt had her overnight.  It was so amazing to fall asleep and not be interrupted that I felt like a brand-new person the next day, like i could conquer the world and still get the house clean.  Most of the time though, I’m crabby as fuck and walking through my life in a daze, so tired that my memory has basically ceased to function and caring so little that it’s sad.

The house is always in various stages of disheveled.  All of the rooms will never be clean at the same time.  If I get the kitchen under control, they’ve destroyed the living room or shredded a book in their rooms or peed in the bed or…or…or… The list goes on forever.

My biggest pleasure in life comes from the few minutes after everyone finally goes to sleep where I can stand out on my deck, which seriously needs to be power washed and stained (but not this year because I can’t leave the kids alone inside for that long while I do that job), smoke a cigarette and drink a beer.  I don’t always drink a beer – usually Friday and Saturday night – but I nearly always smoke a cigarette.  I haven’t smoked in years, but dammit if I don’t enjoy it now.  It’s disgusting and charring and foul-smelling, and it feels like an old friend – an old friend that is a kind reminder of the life I used to have.

I wish that I could say that I’m not angry and bitter and one of those women, but I am.  I really am.  I don’t hate men.  I don’t even hate him, although he’s as close as I’ve ever come to hating anybody.  I mostly hate myself for marrying him.

Because I didn’t love him.  I suspected it then and I know it now.  I always knew it was going to end.  I only ever loved one man, and he hurt me so badly that even when the time came that maybe it could have worked, I didn’t let it.  I couldn’t.  Fool me once… So then I fooled myself, and now I’m paying a worse price.

I wish I had never gone to Korea and met him.  I wish I had gone to law school, like I had planned on doing.  I wish I had seen my grandparents again instead of staying in Korea with him.  I wish I didn’t have to drive a fucking van.  I wish the baby didn’t look like him.  I wish I had an easier time losing the damn baby weight.  I wish a lot of things, but mostly I wish I had loved myself more.  I wish I hadn’t sold myself short because I did.  I really did.  I did the one thing that I swore on my life I would never do: I gave up on myself because I was afraid to be alone.

And when you’ve been alone most of your life, either by chance or by choice, it becomes a habit, a comfort, and a curse.  And eventually, you’ll either shut down or you’ll grab onto the first thing that comes along.  Most people do the latter rather than the former.

So here I am.  The sadder but wiser girl.

I have three kids three and under that I don’t have time to love because I’m too busy trying to keep them alive and in preschool and happy.  I have a house whose layout drives me insane but that needs virtually no maintenance.  I have a van that I hate but that is convenient when one has three kids in carseats.  I have two pairs of pants that fit, two pairs of tennis shoes (Chucks and Sambas because dammit, I love them both and I’m going to do me – like hell), and a lot of makeup that is collecting dust.  I have cigarettes hidden in my medicine cabinet, two bottles of Paulaner in the fridge, and an IUD that is no good to me because when the fuck am  I ever going to get laid again?

Why the fuck should I even care?  I can’t get rid of the jerk I’m still legally bound to. Well, truthfully, I really don’t want anything to do with all that at the moment.  I have enough to worry about.

But at night – always at night – it gets lonely.  Not so lonely that I’m willing to give up the rights to half the bed again anytime soon.  Maybe even ever.  And hell, I have three kids.  There are a lot of men that would run screaming, and I don’t blame them.  I had that effect on them before, anyway.  But sometimes it would be nice to have adult conversation.

Sometimes I think it would be nice if there was someone else around who would get excited about music or politics or Christ, anything but Alvin and the Chipmunks. Shit, I hate those singing rodents.  You can’t even imagine.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to have someone to bitch to about work or the intolerably narrow width of the garage door or dryer stains and where they come from.  It would nice to have someone who wanted to go see John Butler as much as me.  It would be nice to have someone to go with me to those Blues games I bought tickets for.  It would be nice to have someone who didn’t care if I smoked out back sometimes at night – just one, not a pack, and not even every night.

I know.  Wishing for all that is what gets you into this kind of shit.  But to loosely quote Ron Swanson (my fictional hero – him and that chick from 28 Days Later because she was a bad, bad bitch), if you don’t have love, life isn’t really worth much.

But given how all came about, I think it would probably be better to work on myself for a while.  Maybe a long while.  No, I don’t read self-help books, and I’m not going to pay a shrink.  But I’m going to buy a treadmill and a weight bench, and I am actually going to get back on board the diet train after the holidays.  I’m going to get back to teaching myself some programming because I don’t want to be an underwriter forever.  And I’ve got to try and forgive myself for being a fucking idiot and him for being an even bigger idiot.

Yeah, I kind of do hate him.