Unhinged Alaska

Husband’s memory lapse brings out wife’s murderous tendency

Posted: Sunday, September 10, 2006


  Nick Varney

Nick Varney

Sometimes husbands can make some really stupid mistakes. The biggest ones are usually predicated on the guy having the memory span of roadkill. For example:

Recently, when we ran short on our usual substantial supply of firewood, I had to dig into the last few pieces of what was left of our emergency backup cord. The batch had been decaying for a couple of years and the bottom layer had not seen the light of day since my demented pooch, Howard, was a disgusting little pile of puppy hair with paws. Since he now weighs more than my Dodge Ram 50 bucket of seriously oxidized metal parts, the wood should have been fossilized.

Luckily it wasn’t and, as I grappled with a couple of the bigger hunks, remnants of shredded paper and compacted grass tumbled to the ground. I didn’t think much about it because it was obviously an old nest of some tiny varmint that had long vacated the premises in search of a housing upgrade. My mental misfire was not keeping my mouth shut about it.

Later in the morning, as my wife and I were sharing coffee, I absentmindedly mention the discovery. Suddenly a new ice age descended within the confines of our once-cozy cabin. When I innocently gazed up from the newspaper to try and figure out what had crushed the domestic karma, I was staring at a being who had a look in her eyes that would have made Zena-The-Warrior-Princess wishing she was wearing Depends.

Before I get myself into really deep trouble here, let me explain that my wife is one of the biggest animal lovers in the solar system. Unfortunately for the species known as rodents, they lack the charisma to end up on her cute-n-cuddly and should not be nuked immediately list. She holds them in the same esteem as she did the rideable cockroaches she tripped over while I was stationed in Texas. Those particular primordial pests were suspect in the disappearance of numerous neighborhood cats and a pet pygmy pig. They were hunted with harpoons rather than flyswatters.

Back to the story: Several years ago, when things froze so solid around here that one could almost skate across the bay, several shrews decided that the interior of our abode would be a neat place to establish a rodent hostel. It was a major error in judgment. It was also when I learned that my wife would never be eligible for platinum PETA card.

The first time she spotted one of the diminutive, pointy-nosed beasties dart across the front room, she made a remark about their lineage that would have made hard-core rappers blush and went looking for a shotgun. Even though I suggested that her approach was a bit of overkill, she expanded her search for exterminating gear by perusing eBay for flamethrowers, miniature claymore mines and/or ninja-trained rat assassins. I, in turn, sought out some standard spring devices and a jar of peanut butter. Fortunately, I was able to quickly remedy the problem and we haven’t been selected as a vermin campsite since.

So cool replaced chaos until my recent unfortunate incidence of brain flatulence where I forgot to forget that I had discovered an old nest. That is why it’s a bit tense around here right now and she keeps a sledgehammer next to her easy chair. If one of those little critters goes scurrying across the carpet, the whole front room is going to turn into one huge “Whack-A-Mole” game.

As for me, I have shown my dog a picture of a shrew along with a graph of how it fits perfectly into his basic required food groups. If that doesn’t work, I will purchase some eco-friendly devices and buy another of jar Extra Crunchy Skippy. The only problem that I’ll have then is who will win the race to the peanut butter, the killer shrews or my unhinged mutt who is proof positive that evolution can reverse itself.

Hopefully, the rodents will find the bait first and I can return them safely to their rightful place in nature. Aren’t I a sweetie? You bet I am. Just asked the drooling pair of coyotes lurking in the nearby alders or the owl on the roof. Hey, even the ermine living under the deck has been openly begging for their amnesty.

I really want to be the good guy — so why do I keep getting the feeling that, if given a choice, the shrews would rather opt for a spirited session of “Whack-A-Mole?”

Nick Varney lives in Homer. He can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com.

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