When your twin sister calls you to help get rid of a gang of 9-12 smell-raising skunks living under her porch, you go—so my wife went out to Nogal, New Mexico. I call them a “gang,” but the technical term for a skunk group is “surfeit.” Some comedian probably came up with that term since almost everyone considers even one skunk a surfeit.
My wife’s sister, whom we call “Sissy,” was trying to sell her very pricey ranch house but knew that the sulfurous stench of about a dozen skunks might possibly discourage would-be buyers.
Step one in the elimination of these vile-smelling varmints—the research phase—turned up the Internet advice “Never spank your skunk” since it is a spiteful, vengeful critter who never forgets a grudge. Skunk vendettas—who knew? And apparently they are violently opposed to corporal punishment. According to online authorities, sparing the rod is far preferable to riling your skunk with a paddling, no matter how well-deserved it might be.
My wife is an empathic pacifist, a nature lover, a humane human, so phase two of the eradication plan called for baiting two cages with bacon in order to live-trap the stinky-winkies, which then would be relocated.
This is when the trouble began because the traps worked, and the twins caught two skunks in one cage and one in the other. Despite prudently covering the traps—as soon as they picked up the cages, my wife and her sister were both gagged by clouds of skunk spray, and when they set the cages down to seek relief from the gassing, one of the hairy Houdinis somehow escaped. This same stink weasel—whose gang was probably named the Putrid Polecats, the Caustic Kitties, the Pungent Pussies, or if they had a sense of irony, the Nosegays—this same stink weasel appeared at an open window at dinner time and, with fragrant disregard for decorum, blasted away with both anal-gland barrels through the screen, ruining the meal. A sneak attack. Guerilla skunks—what could be more heinous?
My wife said she smelled so bad after this attack that she could smell herself from far away. She said the stench was so inescapable that even her beer tasted skunky. And it didn’t work to bathe in tomato juice. (I don’t know if she tried the juice from a-Roma tomato.)
The next day there was a temporary halt to hostilities so Sissy could contest a traffic ticket at the courthouse in Carrizozo. The old courtroom had church-style bench seating, and apparently this was worthy of remark, for when the twins entered, several people felt compelled to say, “Pew!” Though the courtroom was packed, a curious circle of emptiness opened up around our heroic but funky skunk fighters. When the judge entered, he sniffed the air a few times, struck his gavel down, and barked out—I’m pretty sure about this—“Odor in the court!” Sissy won her appeal when the ticketing officer didn’t show. He didn’t have all stinking day to waste. “Case dismissed. No need to approach the bench.”
The next morning, still reeking, my wife had had enough. She became furious and decided to move to Plan B—shooting the skunks. In two days she had gone from empath to sociopath. From too scents-itive to totally in-scents-ed. From ASPCA to NRA. She grabbed shotgun and shells while Sissy loaded the pistol. Now, knowing what skunks think of corporal punishment (the titular spanking), you can just imagine their stance on capital punishment.
The twins were taking no chances: they donned shower caps, dust masks, goggles, latex gloves, ragged shirts, pajama pants, and the cheapest slippers they could find—pink fuzzy ones as it turned out. Then they grabbed their guns and, with the sun directly overhead, stepped outside and took the high ground. Arrayed like an artillery line before them, with untold expertise in chemical warfare and eager to enter the fray—the gang of nine, the Nosegays. The twins knew what had to be done. It was right there staring back at them—in plain black and white. Like a scene out of Lawrence of Arabia, my wife, her eyes aglow, began shouting at the top of her lungs, “No prisoners! No prisoners!” And so the battle began.
At this point I should say that Sissy’s house had already been listed for sale, and to avoid any unsettling encounters between skunks and house-seekers, Sissy had repeatedly stressed to the realtor to always call ahead before showing the house. Nevertheless, as my wife and her sister rounded the corner of the house looking like twin macabre horrors right out of the Apocalypse, waving firearms, and chasing a passel of polecats—their eyes met those of a startled realtor and an in-tow terrified couple.
The realtor slammed the car into reverse and churned up a cloud of dust in her rapid retreat, but the damage had been done. Sissy had lost a sale, lost face, lost her dignity—but she for damn sure wasn’t going to lose the war.
Never spank your skunk? It’s exactly that kind of misguided mollycoddling that’s led to rampaging gangs of hoodlum skunks like the ones who harassed and gassed my wife and her sister. So do your duty by society. When your skunk misbehaves, you know what you have to do—spank it!