The Possum-bilities are Endless


 

(Tomorrow night I will be the emcee for the next session of our local oral storytelling group.  I was considering reading this as a bit, but thankfully, my wife and children convinced me not to.)

A couple of years ago, I found the skeletal remains of a dead possum in my back yard.  There was no hair or fur, and no internal organs, just a skull and some bones. It actually looked pretty cool.

But then I started thinking – how did I know? This was a possum, after all.  And what do possums do?  They play possum, they pretend they’re dead to fool predators.  They’re like the actors, the little thespians of the animal world. So how did I know that this possum was really dead?

He certainly seemed, with no flesh or internal organs, to be dead, but how could I be certain he wasn’t just giving the greatest performance ever by a possum? I thought of Robert DeNiro, and how for Raging Bull he put on sixty or seventy pounds. How could I know that this possum wasn’t a method acting possum, Robert DePossum, and was so dedicated to his craft that he shed all of his flesh and internal organs to heighten the realism of his performance?

All I could come up with was to find when the possum Oscars are scheduled and where they are broadcast. If Robert DePossum is nominated for best actor, I’ll have my answer.

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June, 1978


I was standing on the back porch of the little yellow house, waiting for who only 30 seconds earlier had become my ex-girlfriend  to get  off the phone and come back to  the porch and finish dumping me. It was a beautiful late spring day and as I stood there, I became aware of the sound of songbirds and the warm late afternoon breeze that lightly brushed my face.

Sherilynn was still on the phone. I became aware of a decision I could make right then and there. I could stand there and wait for her to get off the phone and finish telling me why we aren’t right for each other, or I could accept the invitation made by the songbirds and the breeze.

It didn’t take me long to make my decision.  As I pulled out into the street, her little yellow house and the small factory town appeared and faded in my rear view mirror.  I felt alone but not lonely, and as I drove west on highway eight, I began to feel strong.  I was nineteen years old, and you don’t get much stronger than that.