“Normal?” – Not My Relatives! Wanna Pet My Kid’s Skunk?

steve-o and astro

Yes.  It’s a skunk. Yes. It is sleeping atop my offspring.

I am more of a dog person than anything.  I like cats too, and I have cats, but to me there is nothing like the relationship one can have with a dog.

I have no idea what got the POMC started in on skunks, other than he really doesn’t connect with cats, and he’s somewhat freaky about dogs. He was dog bit rather severely when he was nine.  His right hand might look normal now, but that dog chewed it up like burger meat and he has permanent nerve damage.  Dogs have pretty much given him the creeps ever since, which really sucks.

ferret

He had ferrets in high school, much to my mother’s disgust, because ferrets have a funk.  Even I can smell ferret funk, which means they must smell pretty nasty to most people.  Odor aside, they just never really thrilled me much.  I’ve heard them described as “cat snakes,” which is about right.  Dinky, sneaky little bastards as far as I’m concerned.

skunk

In the skunk’s defense, he is de-scented and the only thing about him that really smells is his shit.  Skunk shit is nasty, nasty, nasty.  The skunk himself, however, is very clean and doesn’t really have a smell to him.

Even so, I’d rather deal with a dog or a cat.  Skunks have sensitive digestive systems and special nutritional needs. They have to have their food specially prepared (sort of like feeding a toddler) unlike a dog or cat who can eat prepackaged dog or cat food and be cool with it.  It’s also a real pain in the hiney to find a vet who will deal with skunks.  Their anatomy and physiology is nothing like dogs or cats, so the vets that will work with them generally cost up the wazoo.

exotic vet

Most vets don’t want to see anything that isn’t a cat or a dog.  I can’t say I blame them.

Skunks are a vector for rabies in the wild, which is enough to scare off most people from owning them.  However, the truth is that the only way for any mammal to get rabies is to be bitten by something with rabies.   Domestic, captive born skunks don’t have rabies, and won’t get rabies unless something with rabies bites them.  Captive born and kept indoors, skunks are just as safe to keep as a pet (and not a rabies risk!) as an indoor cat.

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Harmless as Jezebel? I don’t give my indoor cats rabies shots because there’s no way for them to get bitten by something that’s rabid.

Lucy

The dogs do get rabies shots because a.) they go outside and therefore in theory can be bitten by something rabid, and b.) state law requires it.

I am one of those weird people who can really go off on bizarre tangents at times.  I bought – and read with fascination-  this book some while back- Rabid: A Cultural History of the World’s Most Diabolical Virus..  It’s a compelling read on a rather off the wall subject.  I will have to let the illustrious offspring borrow this one if he’s in the mood for some enlightening late night reading. Of course my tastes in literature are mostly non-fiction (science and history) and often tend to gravitate toward the macabre.

I don’t think I have one “normal” relative.  Not one.  My son passes for normal most of the time, but they are all certifiable.

Mom is probably the one that’s the closest to the cuckoo’s nest- she’s bi-polar with a heaping helping of anxiety, OCD, and extreme naïveté to go along with it.  Jerry is a laundry list of fun beginning with adult ADHD, Helpless Man syndrome, and ending with a rip roaring case of what I call “functional drunk.”

Dad’s gotten a lot more fun since he’s gotten old. It wouldn’t surprise me that like his own father he decides now that he’s 70 years old that, “I’m not old. I’m middle aged.” Nobody had the heart to tell Grandpa when he turned 70 that it was highly unlikely he’d see 140, but he did live to be 91.   I guess it’s all about your attitude.

There’s a phenomenon with some older people where their frontal lobe (the “traffic cop” of the brain) sort of wears out and doesn’t screen one’s conversation as thoroughly as it once did, or probably should.

So Dad, who used to be rather tight-lipped and taciturn, has gotten rather cheeky as he ages.  His oh-so scathing commentary is starting to remind me of my grandmother and great-grandmother (ironically my mother’s mother and grandmother, go figure) and it’s a hoot. It drives Mom nuts, on the rare occasion she actually gets the reference and/or the double entendre. I’m glad that most of the time it goes over her head, for her own sanity and well being.

Mom has her own special brand of near-senility which is even more creepy than my Dad flipping off traffic.  She has always gravitated to the mega-weird parts of Catholicism which is downright scary, but the older she gets the more she watches EWTN, goes to Mass and Confession, and is grabbing on that rosary.  Normally I would say religious disciplines would be a good thing, but she gets Really Weird with it.  She thought that if she left EWTN on all the time full blast that the POMC would see the Catholic light and become a priest.  Never mind that he’s pretty much agnostic and really creeped by “men in dresses.”

To top that off, she’s also blithely ignorant that it’s really, really gauche to ask someone who is a confessional Lutheran and who has done a lot of theological and spiritual soul searching to come on down to the Catholic cathedral to venerate some dead saint’s bones.  Apparently the Catholic school she went to didn’t teach too much about Martin Luther, the 95 Theses, and the Reformation.

I had to decline the bone-gazing and necromancy out of conscience, but as far as she knows I declined because I had to do laundry.  I’d rather tell a little white lie – though I really did do laundry- than go through a detailed theological dissertation on why I don’t venerate saints’ bones.  I don’t need to hurt her feelings.

Even the POMC is borderline OCD. His car and motorcycle both are testament to that.

Both of my sisters could be called “castrating bitches,” due to the fact that they both can run a man like a railroad.

And here I sit with my own frailties and funky wiring.

It Wasn’t Always Better Back Then, Senile Agitation, and Slightly Macabre

Let’s just give old, agitated, belligerent, senile Gramps some Thorazine! That will calm his wrinkled ass down!

Never mind that:  Chlorpromazine (the generic name for Thorazineis not for use in psychotic conditions related to dementia.  Chlorpromazine may cause heart failure, sudden death, or pneumonia in older adults with dementia-related conditions.

Apparently, barring the possibility that a lot of old people back then were on Thorazine to treat tetanus,  this stuff must have killed off a few geezers back in 1960-whatever. Today we know better.  We get them hooked on Oxycontin now.

Tetanus does not look like it would bring a “peaceful death.”  Unless you’re a contortionist.

That reminds me, I probably should get a tetanus shot.  The last one I had was when I fell on the coffee table back in 2003 and had to have a buttload of stitches to fix the gash in my knee.  It left a pretty funky scar, and after the Lidocaine and stitches I couldn’t give a rat’s ass less about one more needle stick.  That was before I ended up diabetic and had to give myself shots every day.  That will put you off the fear of needles with the quickness, though I will grant that insulin shots are given subcutaneously (in the skin) and with a tiny, tiny short pen needle, so that’s no big deal anyway.

I’ve not encountered as many angry old people as I do angry young people.  Perhaps their type-A personalities kill the angry/disgruntled/perfectionist type people off young, so that the odds of living to be both old and pissed off at the world aren’t so good.  I’d like to think that age (and having more resources) can buy one a certain ability to forgo social interaction to a large degree, so the genuine piss ants out there quarantine themselves.  I know of one evil old bitty that was exactly like that.  She lived across the street from my parents when I was a little kid.  The only reason I was aware of her existence (and her seething rage) was that she subscribed to the newspaper.  Back then the kids that ran the paper route also had to collect the payments- usually once a month, but some people were so cheap you had to go collect every week.

The local paper was $1.35 a week.  Some asswipes made us chase them down every week- for $1.35.  Then again, today no parent in his/her right mind would let their kids go door to door to collect money for any reason, but those were more innocent times.

Thankfully Mrs. Crotchety paid by the month, but it was begrudgingly, and you had to listen to her tirade about how hard it was for her to wander the four feet from her chair to answer the door, how the paper is really crappy for how much you have to pay for it, and that whoever was delivering papers that day (either me or my sister- not the sadist, the almost normal one) had better be sure to put her paper in a plastic bag on the porch right next to the door because she wasn’t going to pay for a wet paper.

Mrs. Crotchety also had a bad habit of screaming out the door at neighborhood kids in the winter if they would dare to scoop up a handful of snow from her yard (even if obtained from the sidewalk) to throw a snowball.   If you did that, you risked having Mrs. Crotchety screeching out the door at you: “Put back my snow!  Right now or I’ll call the police!”

Don’t you brat kids go stealing my snow again!

The only good part of her threats was that she must have had the police on speed dial, because I think they learned to ignore her.  Then again, even in a real emergency, the police response time wasn’t so hot.  Not too long after Mrs. Crotchety died, my best friend almost got killed by her psycho boyfriend. It took the cops 23 minutes to show up after I called 911.  Had she not clobbered him with a hair spray can and knocked him through the shower door, he would have stabbed her to death.  At least 80’s hair was good for something.

Who would have thought?  Aquanet saves lives!

Anyway, old Mrs. Crotchety never had any visitors.  Her husband had died years and years earlier, and her kids had gotten the hell out of Dodge even before that.  The only time anyone came to her door was my sister or me, when we were collecting for the paper, and the unfortunate meter reader for the water company.  By the time Mrs. Crotchety died- by then she had to have been 90 at the very least- though I would guess about 115- my sister and I had long since moved beyond delivering the paper, so we were thankful not to have to encounter her.

Let’s hope someone took the “open casket funeral” off the table for Mrs. Crotchety.

It was the poor meter reader who smelled something funky.  It was about this time of year- high summer- when the health department finally investigated the house and discovered Mrs. Crotchety’s extremely decomposed corpse.  The entire house had to be gutted, and the health department had to have a HazMat crew come in to fumigate the joint.   Time of death?  The coroner opined that she probably expired sometime that previous February.  Since the furnace had stopped working, either she froze to death, or she died and then the furnace stopped (who knows?) so she didn’t really start to rot real good until April or May.

Nobody noticed mail piling up, because she had a slot in the door.  I’m sure the only mail she got was bills and her SS checks.  The only way anyone would have noticed mail piling up is if her entire living room would have filled up with mail.  I’m somewhat surprised the mailman didn’t smell something weird, but he was an incorrigible lush (sometimes you would find him napping propped up against a tree, or sitting in his truck) and a pervert who liked to read other people’s magazines (namely mine, as I would get supposedly “new” magazines defiled with peanut butter fingerprints all over them.)  I don’t think he noticed anything.  Perhaps the combo of rotgut liquor and a guilty conscience over defacing my National Lampoons killed off his olfactory faculties, or maybe he smelled worse than a rotting dead body.  I do know he was replaced eventually- when he got popped for DUI while driving the mail truck.

If you die alone and rot, it will leave a mark.

Mrs. Crotchety died before the days of the “I’ve Fallen and I Can’t Get Up” buttons.  If she’d had one of those it would have saved the health department a lot of work.  Maybe that’s where that technology came from, because health departments across the country were tired of having to peel dead old fossils off the carpet.

Oh, and back in the day:

Did you know Ovaltine could make you wake up gay?

Victorian Ephemera and Other Morbid and Melancholy Forays

Lactated Food sounds pretty gross, but it’s simply an early form of baby formula made from powdered lactose (milk sugar) and various grains.  Infant mortality was about 25% in Victorian times for a number of reasons, many of which are preventable today.  If a mother wasn’t able to adequately breast feed her child this was one of the alternatives.  If you’ve ever tried a taste of modern baby formula, or even smelled the stuff, it couldn’t taste much worse.  Today’s baby formulas are majorly nasty tasting,  but if you don’t know any better and that’s all you get, well that’s all you get.  Unfortunately Lactated Food, while it may have served as a emergency baby formula, it couldn’t do much to prevent the epidemics or correct the sanitation issues of that era which likely caused most of the infant mortality.

The Victorians are especially known for their sense of drama in matters involving death.  Death was not something that was shoved off into hospitals and nursing homes, far away from the rhythm of daily life.  Death was part of daily life.  The guy who built your furniture was the same guy who built your coffin.  They also called it a coffin, not a “casket,” or  “receptacle for remains.”  Mortality wasn’t something reserved for the catastrophically injured, terminally ill, or the aged who are normally shoved off into some sort of facility for months or years before they die- mortality was an equal opportunity proposition.  Death usually wasn’t a lingering thing back then. One day you might be doing your daily business and the next you could just plain drop dead.  I think that’s the reason why there were so many post-mortems taken.  You didn’t have a chance to have so and so’s pic taken when he/she was alive, so now you have to do it before he/she starts to rot.

Was it winter? Did they put her out on the porch to chill until the photographer could make it? ‘Cause she looks pretty well preserved for being dead over a week.

I don’t know why I find post-mortem photography to be fascinating.  It’s creepy to take pics of dead people and even creepier to gawk at them, but I guess it’s more morbid curiosity.  The Victorians raised post-mortem photography to a high science, even developing a sort of guitar stand for the dead so they could be maneuvered into a more lifelike pose:

Now I can explain Keith Richards.

Should I have had the misfortune to have been born in Victorian times, I likely would not have survived much more than a day or two- I was born with pneumonia and had to spend a week in the hospital from the beginning.  Sickly infants were the first to go. The Victorian world made 1000 Ways to Die appear comparatively tame.  If the contagions and bad nutrition and having to wander around in horse shit didn’t kill you, the odds of death by accident or misadventure were pretty good too.

I still admire the artwork of the Victorian era though.  The drawings are stunning and ornate.  The clothing, while beautiful, would have had to have been something wicked to clean and maintain, and I don’t see how any of that stuff, especially corsets, could have been comfortable.  I balk at underwire bras and pantyhose.

I have no idea how these poor women could breathe- but they were probably already rail-thin from always having Montezuma’s Revenge.

 Another hallmark of the Victorian era was maudlin sentiment, which was sort of understandable when you didn’t know from one day to the next who would be alive and who would be dead.  The next birthday you remember might be the last, so yuk it up good.  The cards- and I admit I don’t spend much time or money on paper cards these days- are awesome.  Even the ads are so much more artistic than the ones we are treated to today:

Of course the stuff in the ad probably had lead and arsenic and heroin and cocaine in it, but what a pretty ad!

Patent medicines- basically anything someone could put in a bottle or a tin and market creatively- intrigue me also.  A lot of that stuff proved to be more deadly than anything.  I have to wonder how many people died because the “cure” was worse than the disease.

This looks like someone’s acid trip- and it might just be acid- but if it does something about my lumbago, I might just try it!

I like the little demon drilling on the top of the dude’s head  (center frame on the left.)  That’s a nice touch.

Gross, Macabre and Just Plain Creepy

For a turd, Mr. Hankey is almost cute, but the concept of making turds into cartoon characters is sort of gross.  Leave it to the creators of South Park to take gross things and make them almost cute.  Then again, things scatological almost always engender at least a morbid curiosity, if not downright explosive laughter.  Farts, for instance are universally funny, especially if they come from a dog (When Clara farts she has to spin around and look for the source of the noise- a sort of the “smeller’s the feller” type give away- which makes a dog fart even more hilarious) or when they sound or smell explosive. 

Clara is beautiful, but her SBD’s (and the audible ones too) are truly deadly.  I don’t know if there is something particularly volatile in dog food (though with our girls at least, it could be that nasty old mutton) but dog farts are second only to old man diaper farts in the acridity of the noxious gas emitted.

Perhaps it is proof either that I am being honest with myself or that I’m just plain sophomoric and puerile at times, but most of the time for me gross=funny.  I’m old enough to remember the beginning of the gross toys- Slime and the Garbage Pail Kids.

Slime was always good for making fart noises with.  Mom, of course couldn’t stand it.  The GPK cards caused a wellspring of parental disgust, and could carry dire consequences should teachers catch you with them.  I thought it hilarious when one could actually buy school folders with the card designs on them.  Some teachers could care less and decided there were more worthy battles to fight, but others were so wigged out by anything GPK that you had to cover them up or get rid of them. 

Personally I think they should have been more worried with the teen pregnancy and drug abuse that were epidemic when I was in middle school and high school than to obsess with fart sounds or crude trading cards, but to each his or her own.  Sometimes you can only bear to fight the battles that you might have a chance of winning. 

Today there are a plethora of gross toys and macabre games out there.  I was mildly shocked when Steve-o decided I should watch him and his buddies play Call of Duty on that behemoth TV he bought under the pretense of “I need a bigger computer monitor.”  I know full well he’s not blind, and you would have to be legally blind to require a 42″ flat screen as a computer monitor (my fossil ass does just fine with a 15″ laptop, so he’s not shitting anyone) but at least he paid for the flat screen so I really can’t comment.  Anyway, Call of Duty is probably the most realistic video game I’ve ever seen.  It puts some of the 80’s slasher flicks to shame as far as the special effects. 

I think Steve-o’s favorite part of the game is that he can pretend to be a a Luftwaffe fighter pilot.  I know he knows the actual history, but I still can’t help but to rub it in.  The Germans lost.  Face it.  Superior technology doesn’t matter much when you lack the raw material, the logistics and the strategy to put the technology to good use.  Hitler is not a role model. 

I’ve said it many times.  I am not a physically demonstrative person.  There are people for whom it is perfectly natural to touch, hug, get right up in people’s faces, eat off each other’s plates, etc. and they think nothing of it.  Then there are those, like me, who put a premium on maintaining personal space.  I like to enjoy my own private entree with my own private silverware all to myself, as well as I prefer to enjoy my own private beverage in my own private glass, bottle or mug, without sharing bodily fluids or wayward bacteria with others.

I don’t hug on strangers.  To me “stranger” is defined as a non-blood relative who I am not married to and who is not a very close friend.  I am not even terribly cool with hugging on blood relatives except when hugging is required in a social setting.  I don’t enjoy it, but I will hug when politeness dictates that I should.

There are people like my mother who hug anyone, anywhere, for pretty much any reason, which to me is just plain creepy. It’s as bad as letting other people drink off your cup.  I can’t even let my own kid do that.  Or the dogs for that matter.

I do think that over all the world has more huggers than non-huggers if this article’s feedback- “Are You a Hugger- is any indication.  I still think random hugging is creepy, even though my take on hugging may be a minority stance.

Just do the world a favor and know what you’re protesting before you decide to “occupy” anything more lofty than a portajohn.