Saturday, March 27, 2010

Drunk Pennsylvania Man Tries to "Revive" Road-Killed Opossum


PUNXSUTAWNEY, Pa. (AP) ―State police have charged a central Pennsylvania man with public drunkenness after he was seen giving mouth-to-mouth "resuscitation" to a long-dead opossum along a highway.
Long-dead comedian Sam Kinison once said ever so eloquently that in life there are somethings "that you simply cannot make up. People have to do this stuff to make it actually happen." This story from the home of Punxsutawney Phil the Woodchuck certainly fits that description.

However, before wetting your pants reading this there is a similar story involving drunkenness and a muskrat that needs to be told.

One night in the summer of 1970 I was returning home from an evening of intense "socializing" at the Club 48 bar north of Rice Lake. The time was about 2:00 a.m. and I had my turn signals on as I approached the Highway 48 bridge over the Red Cedar River. It was my intention to turn right onto County Highway C by the old Red Barn Theater and flow myself home.

However my attention was quickly diverted to a muskrat that was sauntering around in the middle of the highway trying to get from one side of the concrete to the other.

Being quite inebriated and also having a huge place in my heart for the noble muskrat I brought my car to a halt in the middle of the bridge where I got out intending to pick up the muskrat and remove him any possibility of becoming a road-kill. It didn't matter that there were no other cars on the highway at this time of day. I was determined to save that muskrat whether he wanted to be saved or not.

Running up to him I was shocked to see the muskrat rise up on his haunches (like you'd see a Woodchuck doing when sunning himself) and take a defiant posture to protect himself. Hell bent on saving the muskrat even when he obviously didn't need saving, I reached down to pick him up and was instantly bitten by his razor-sharp incisors. Stupidly I slapped the muskrat thinking that would subdue him. It only pissed him off some more and I received a third bite - this one solidly to the palm of my right hand.

The muskrat and I have become one as the little rodent refused to let go of my hand. Thinking as quickly as a barrel of beer would allow, I darted back to my car and flung the hapless muskrat into front seat. It let go of my hand (which was now bleeding profusely) and I closed the door behind me as I sat down.

It then dawned on me that I'm bottled up in a 1965 Ford Mustang with an enraged muskrat who had just tried to excise part of the palm of one hand as thanks for saving him. However as soon as he hit the floor he darted under the passenger side seat and sat there.

Rather than try to reason with the muskrat I put my car in gear and drove the three miles home.

Arising a couple hours later to go out and milk cows I peeked in the window of my car to see if muskrat was maybe snoozing on the seat. He wasn't. In his confinement the muskrat decided to fight back and had thoroughly gnawed off the arm rest on the passenger door, had ripped the stuffing out of the passenger back rest and was at that very moment gnawing on the carpeting on the floor.

The scene was reminiscent of the quote in Edward Abbey's book The Monkeywrench Gang where George Washington Hayduke sees the Bishop of Blanding out with the search and rescue team trying to find Hayduke. Observing them Hayduke muses to himself "I'm not lost and I don't want to be rescued." The muskrat felt the same way.

Completing my milking chores I knew that I had to get that damned muskrat out of the car while I still had some of the interior remaining. Having few options I bravely (or stupidly?) got back in the car and drove down to Spring Creek where I parked along County Highway M and opened the passenger door. I then sat on the edge of the road waiting for what seemed like an eternity for the muskrat to figure out that the door was open and he could escape. Eventually he did and was last seen scurrying through the sedges to the edge of the water where he made his escape four mile from where he tried to cross the Red Cedar River bridge a few hours earlier.

It cost me quite a bit of money to have the upholstery on the passenger side of my car replaced. And it cost a bit more for new carpet. And it cost about that same amount for the tetanus shot and the doctor's visit to sew up my hand later that day.

I don't think I ever saw that muskrat again but that fall I checked the incisors of every muskrat I trapped along Spring Creek to see if any of them had remnants of my skin wrapped around their teeth.

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