Mr. Eggshells had grown up in a rural area, on ranch acreage that had once held livestock, and the nearest town populating at almost 3000 people. Conversely, I grew up in the multicultural, decidedly urban, and hugely populated Greater Vancouver area in Canada. Needless to say, we have slightly differing perspectives on life, and greatly different experiences with flora and fauna.
The parental units had been helping us with yard work (read: doing it for us), since we had crazy schedules and commutes. I was working from home on this beautiful sunny summer day and so the three of us had been chatting on and off as my day and theirs allowed. They had spent most of their day outside in the yard, coming in later as they'd finished working.
Around 5 pm I decided to put a load of laundry in the washer, which is located in the garage. Basket in arms, I descended the two steps into the garage. As I went to turn the corner to reach the laundry area, I froze at the sight in front of me...a giant humongous rat. Of course, I did the only reasonable thing, which was scream, drop the laundry and run into the house to call my husband. (Yes, folks, 40 years of women's liberation completely destroyed in one second by a rodent.)
While on the phone, hysterically telling my husband we have big, giant, mutant rats invading our home, I walk into our family room where the parents are relaxing. Hearing me, Dad leaps up to go investigate (note, also raised in a rural setting). Mr. Eggshells is still trying to calm me down and understand the gibberish while navigating the freeway, and he asks me to wait a moment while he gets the driving settled down. During this interval, Mom (note, also raised on a ranch) quietly asks me if I'm sure it's not a squirrel.
The question stops me dead, thoroughly indignant and I reply, "Of course not! I know the difference between a rat and a squirrel. Squirrels have bushy tails."
While she's laughing, I head back to the garage and resume my histrionics while watching Dad trying to find the offending creature. He's wielding a broom and poking into the dark recesses of every potential rodent hiding spot. My husband, not realizing what has gone before, now asks me if it wasn't a squirrel I saw.
"What is it with you people? No, it's not a squirrel. They have bushy tails. I know I wasn't raised on a farm but they have squirrels in the city. THIS IS NOT A SQUIRREL."
"Okay, okay. I'll pick up some D-Con on my way home. It'll be fine, I promise."
"I'm not doing laundry until that thing's gone!"
"It's okay, just let me get home. I'll take care of it."
At this point, Dad confirms that he can find nothing in the garage that shouldn't be there. Mr. Eggshells arrives home, and they do another search. By now, I'm sure they all think I've just imagined it, or that it somehow escaped.
About a week later I'm driving home and Mr. Eggshells calls me.
"I believe you."
"Excellent, do I get any context? Or is this just a general all-purpose belief?"
"I believe that you saw what you thought was a giant rat."
I can already feel the terror rising when I ask, "What I thought was a rat? What do you mean? What's going on?"
"It's okay I've taken care of it."
"TAKEN CARE OF WHAT?"
"What you saw was a juvenile 'possum."
"A WHAT? HOW DO YOU KNOW THIS? DID YOU SEE IT?"
At this point, I need to digress a little in the story and mention that we'd hosted the parents to a steak barbecue the weekend before. Unfortunately, our grill had run out of propane before the steaks were done. So we finished them in the oven, in our roasting pan. We'd left the pan to soak in the laundry tub and, like we often do, forgot that it was there.
"Well, yes. But I've totally taken care of it."
"You need to tell me NOW what's going on."
"Okay." Deep sigh. "I had to look it up on the web to be sure, but it looks like a juvenile possum. I found it in the roasting pan."
"The roasting pan? Oh, in the laundry tub?"
|It's just waiting to get me.|
Now I'm feeling ill, and kind of bad for the poor creature, but not enough to not be glad that it wasn't still roaming around my garage waiting to lunge at me.
"Okay. Well at least I wasn't seeing things. So you've gotten rid of the remains?"
"Yes. And the roasting pan. I considered just cleaning it up and not telling you but thought that might be bad."
"YES. Yes, that would be very bad. Good husband. Good good husband."
"Yes, I thought it was best."
"Thank you! Yes, that is definitely best. So that's a huge relief. No more animals that shouldn't be around here!"
The next day, the parents stopped by as we were on our way out - to get a new roasting pan.
"See? I TOLD you I wasn't seeing things. And that it wasn't a squirrel."
Dad got the last word...
"The rest of the possum family must be around your yard somewhere."
Mom starts laughing as I stare at him dumbfounded and Mr. tries to steer me away.