YANKEE CLASSIC: How in the World Do You Get a Skunk out of a Bottle?
Suddenly the skunk, until now motionless, is galvanized. He pulls back in panic, his paws scrabbling at the grass, at my hand. I pull hard on the jar. Now it will come off and he will run away. One way or another, this is it.But this is not it. Pulling hard, I find I am dragging the skunk, who pushes frantically backward, onto the dirt road. His head is impacted into the jar. It will not come out.
“Oh, boy, come on.” The skunk is now completely in the road, struggling furiously to get away, twisting and turning as I hold the jar tight. The one good thing at this point is that he is so completely wedged that he can’t turn and fire, although there is little doubt that he regrets this keenly. As long as I have his head, I’m safe. I pull again and am only able to drag the skunk farther. “Oh, great. Now I get to take you home.” He grunts audibly, pulls again, scrabbling up packed dirt.
There’s nothing for it. I have to grab him with one hand and try to pull the jar off with the other. With my left hand, I grasp him around the shoulder blades. His hair is soft. He would be nice to stroke. “Come on come on come on. . . ” I twist the jar hard to the left, and his head inside assumes a crazy angle, but he stops struggling. I pull hard on the jar. It does not move. “Come on, you. . . ” The jar is really socked onto his neck, which has swollen in some way. Grabbing hard at his shoulder blades, I twist and pull harder.
I am exerting all my strength now. And I see the threads of the jar turn, slowly, then more quickly. “OK, something moving, heads up,” then more movement, an upward sliding, and then with an audible pop the jar is off.
Without any thought except escape, I jump up, whirl, run. Unscathed. Unsprayed. At a safe distance, I stop and look back. The skunk stands in the middle of the road. He breathes deeply, several times, shakes himself from stem to stern, takes a few tottering steps across the road.
On the other side, he halts, then turns to look at me. I look back. For perhaps 30 seconds, we regard each other with great benignity. Then I hold up my index finger in a tutorial fashion.
“Next time you see me,” I say, “don’t spray me.” He watches me gravely a moment more, then turns and plods off into a cemetery across the road.
There is something in my hand. An empty jar. Starting to run up the long hill to Main Street, I pitch it as hard as I can, sidearm, way out into a swamp. I hear it splash as I run on up the hill into a sunny morning whose colors are joy, joy, joy.