Have you ever been around a couple that argues all the time? My parents have been married for over 50 years. You would think after all those years there would be nothing more to argue about. It would seem that they would have crossed all the bridges and settled all the disagreements that pop up in any relationship. My parents must be very special because they have found a way to argue about almost anything that comes along, even a dead possum.
If they are going somewhere they argue about who is going to drive. If my mother drives then there is an argument about the route to take. My father is a wonderful backseat driver who will talk on and on about the route, the traffic and the driving habits of the other drivers until my mother finally yells, “Oh just sit there and be quiet for heaven’s sake you are making me nervous.” This will then elicit a huge huff from my father while shaking his head in dismay that mom wouldn’t want his opinion on every little detail. Once they arrive at their destination there is an argument of where to park. Once the parking issue is settled and they exit the car my mother will go left and my father will go right. Somehow they can’t manage to agree on how to get into a building going in the same direction.
I would guess a lot of folks argue about how their spouses drive though, but my parents take arguing to a different level. I was visiting the other day and we were taking a tour of my mother’s beautiful back yard garden. The backyard is a thing of beauty when in full bloom with roses, hydrangeas, rhododendrons and wisteria all nestled along winding paths. Along the path that has ivy and ground cover I spotted a possum lying in the rhododendron and fern patch. It was a very large, very dead possum. “Oh Lord look at that!” I announced. Upon sighting the dead possum my mother immediately sprang into action going to the garage to fetch her pitchfork. My mother is a take charge woman. Over the years she has dispatched many a dead animal and has been the cause of death to many a bug or spider that would dare to come within smacking range of her hand or shoe.
Upon the return of my mother with her trusty pitchfork the three of us stand in a circle over the slightly odorous body of the dead possum. The first decision to be made is what will we do with him? Standing in 90 degree heat, swatting mosquitoes the size of horseflies the argument begins. I weighed in with tossing him over the fence into the vacant lot behind the house but that was met with “Lord no, he will stink to high heaven” from my Mom. Dad, slightly distracted, was more worried with how did he die? His thoughts were, “Hit by a car” but Mom countered with, “Couldn’t be because there were no marks on him”. Back and forth went the argument while I stood there dripping sweat and thinking how can two people argue over a dead possum?
Throw him over the fence into the vacant lot? Bury him in the backyard? Bag and toss him in the garbage? After much argument about the proper disposal and the possible demise of the possum, the decision is made to bag and toss. Dad takes charge by sending mom to the house to get two black trash bags. Upon her return she comes back with one white trash bag. “No, no, no I said we needed two BLACK trash bags”, Dad orders. “I couldn’t find the BLACK trash bags”, she flings over her shoulder as her little 5’2″ body stomps back to the house to get another white trash bag. Dad huffs loudly and mutters under his breath, “Everybody knows that a dead possum is a two bagger”. Waiting for the return of the bags I hold the pitchfork and try not to pull my hair out by the roots.
Once the necessary bags are on hand the saga of placing of the possum in the bags began with me and Dad holding the bags open and Mom dropping the critter in. I just knew she was going to miss and that possum was going to fall right on my sandaled foot. I began to do a little hopping dance while stating in a fairly loud voice, “Don’t touch me with that thing! I mean it, don’t touch me!” Fortunately Mom has good aim and thump, the possum is in the bag. I try to tie the top but Dad is once again in charge, “No, no give me that bag. You have to tie it this way” as he assumes the official bag tying stance and twirls that dead possum around and around. Once properly tied with a double twist and Dad’s special knot, in the garbage he goes. Finally the deed is done! The pitchfork is returned to the garage and we all trudge into the house to clean up.
The dead possum is still the topic of the day as we are sitting in the sun room trying to cool off.
“That is the biggest possum I have ever seen”, Mom says. Immediately Dad throws back, “Naw, that wasn’t a very big possum. When I was little boy my father used to catch them twice as big.”
“Now Jim you know that was a big possum if you ever saw one. It must have weighed at least 10lbs.”
“10 lbs? No, no couldn’t have weighed that much. I’d say more like 5 lbs.” Dad said.
“No I think that was the biggest possum I have ever seen and I think it weighed at least 10 lbs.” Mom states firmly.
Back and forth the argument goes with the cause of death thrown in for good measure. Shaking of heads, loud exaggerated sighs and sharp retorts fly about the room. I try to keep my head down and my mouth shut so I won’t be accused of taking sides.
I can only sit there and shake my head. How in the world do two people, two people I thought were half sane, turn a dead possum into an argument? I really don’t have any idea except maybe living together for over 50 years does something to your brain.