INSTALLMENT #1 HONORABLE PUNKIN
Quite on his own, O has managed to combine my mum’s childhood pet name for me with the Nigerian fixation on titles into the best pet name ever: “Honorable Punkin”!
It’s now his go-to move. He, say, forgets to pay the Internet bill or locks the cats outside with a possum (“I don’t know who Those People like to hang out with!” was his excuse); I’m ready to explode; he “Honorable Punkin!”s me; we both fall down laughing.
It’s a win-win for everyone (except perhaps Those People, as he’s taken to calling the cats).
INSTALLMENT #2 THE EVENT
How it starts: That sinking feeling upon hearing the sound of crunching cat food. You glance from side to side: both cats sprawl on the sofa, oblivious, on either side of you. A tentative glance over the sofa confirms it: the damn possum you saw dancing around the back door last night has made its move! The call is coming from inside the house!
Me: Standing on a carved stool screeching.
O: Crashing around cursing in my study with a broom.
Cats: Still sleeping. Seriously?!
Me: Do you have a plan? Because this chasing it endlessly room to room can only work if one actually *could* die of fright.
I suggest (from my perch atop the stool) blocking off the countless escape routes and directing it somewhere, whereupon O places the open cat carrier on one end of the liquor cabinet, and I bushwhack with a broom on the other. After giving a faint wave of distress, the possum steps daintily into the cat carrier.
O: I think we’ll deal with it in the morning.
Me: We’re not leaving a kenneled possum in the living room overnight!
O (surprised): Well, okay.
Me: Are you sure it’s a good idea to leave the possum in the cat carrier on the patio overnight? What if it calls friends or family?
O: Then they’ll see it in prison and learn something.
O: Yeah, it’ll be a deterrent. It’s a good thing, actually. I doubt we’ll see any more animals once they visit him in prison. Besides, it’s only a rat; now if it were polar bear…
Me: Yeah, I don’t think we’d be having a conversation about the polar bear in the cat carrier on our NoCal patio.
O: I’m just saying…
INSTALLMENT #3 THE MORNING AFTER
Report from the porch: Everything peaceful in possum prison. Amalinze & Anansi only vaguely interested in the repurposing of their carrier. Let the neighbor’s cat come over to play and they lose their ever-loving minds. Yet a possum moves into the house, eats their food, and they sleep through the whole thing.
INSTALLMENT #4 BONUS SCENE
O: Is a possum a rat or a raccoon?
Me: Neither. It’s its own thing.
O: How can you tell the difference?
Me: Well, though the tails looks the same, hopefully we never, ever see a rat as large as a possum. And a raccoon looks like a bandit.
O: What’s that?
Me: It’s like an armed robber.
O: It has a rusty old musket and a scarf tied around its face?
Me: Not a Nigerian armed robber. A cartoon American one. In striped pajamas and a mask. And opposable thumbs.
O: I have no idea what you’re saying.
Me: That’s kind of the motif of this marriage.
INSTALLMENT #5 THE GREAT RELEASE (with photos)
Photo #1. “In college zoology, we studied opossums for 15 minutes; great class! Are those related to this possum-rat-thing?”
Photo #2. “Really!? You have marsupials in America? Mar-su-pi-als. This is where I should like to release my marsupial.”
Photo #3. “You’re snapping pix? Well, you’re a writer. I guess you have to document the Great Release.”
Photo #4. “Hey, you, Opossum. Don’t be Playing Possum! (That’s how the professor started the class; I’ll never forget it.) Wake up and enjoy your new ecosystem!”
INSTALLMENT #6 BONUS SCENE 2
O: These traps are surprisingly useful! Maybe we should go into the animal capture business!
Me: They’re not traps; they’re pet carriers. And I’m pretty sure we shouldn’t.
O: Nonetheless, I think I’ll go to the flea market and look for some used ones.