I love social media as a way to keep up with far-flung friends. It’s great to see what’s happening in the lives of people we care about, even though they’re a thousand miles away. And sometimes that prompts indelible memories.
Today, one friend posted a picture of one of his dogs. Poor pup, a rather large breed, had recently encountered a skunk. It was obvious the skunk was not impressed.
That reminded me of my college days, and the Summer of the Skunks.
I was working that summer at a state park near my home, manning the park’s mini golf shack. The park was beautifully wooded, and a very popular tourist destination.
That particular summer, it was also a very popular skunk destination. Not sure why, because I haven’t seen it that way before or since, but that year, skunks were as common at the mini golf course as cats at a Little Friskies buffet. Because the course stayed open until 10 p.m., that led to some interesting encounters.
There were often several skunks wandering around as I closed up the shack for the evening. Standard practice was to close the shack, take the day’s proceeds and receipts and drive to the park’s lodge to turn them in. Often, the little furry critters would be between the shack and my ancient VW Beetle at closing time. Not to worry. They were polite, and believe me, I was too. I always let them go first, wherever they chose to wander, and patiently waited my turn. In general, we worked well together, and everything was fine.
Trouble was, the skunks weren’t just at the mini golf course. They were all over the park. and that included on the road to the lodge. It could make for some tricky navigation.
One night, I closed the mini golf course, gingerly navigated past the furry friends in the parking lot (including the pure white albino one with pink eyes) and drove to the lodge and turned in the required paperwork.
Mission accomplished. Time to head home.
Unfortunately, one of my furry friends picked the wrong time to cross the road.
There was no avoiding it. I hit it square with one wheel. With its dying breath, it did what skunks do.
Observant readers will recall the car in question was an old Beetle. Which is to say an original, air-cooled one. With no a/c. On an 80-degree night. You guessed it, the windows were down. By the time I drove the 10 miles home, I reeked of skunk and so did the car. It wasn’t pretty.
I managed to shower. The car was a different story. No matter how many times I washed it over the next two years, there was always a bit of eau de skunk on hot days. That could explain my lousy social life at the time.
Two years. No air conditioning. Not fun. Seriously indelible memory.
This sums it up: