Playing possum

Scott Ballard District Attorney

October 31, 2013

My wife was sweeping out the garage this week. Suddenly she yelped.

“There’s a dead possum in here!”

My first thought was the same one you would have. Is it really dead? You know possums have been known to fake their demise.

So, I trudged into the garage to check out the situation. I could imagine the possum “reviving” suddenly and sprinting into the woods to laugh at how he had fooled us.

Nope. He was dead alright.

So, I scooped him into a shovel and carried him off.

Now, in this heavily regulated world, I may have violated a ton of rules. Maybe there is a federal hotline I was supposed to call to report the dead possum. Perhaps it is required by some agency that bureaucrats approve the disposal of possum remains. I’m sure there were reams of paperwork I should have completed.

But, I just tossed him into the woods.

As I did, I wondered. How can people eat these things?

And that reminded me of a story my granddaddy told me years ago.

He said that when he was a young man—we’re talking about the early 1920’s—he was invited to a swanky dinner. It was an honor to be invited.

So, he put on a suit and headed to the home where the dinner party would occur. You know how those events go. You talk. You sit around. You reach the point where you are about to starve. Then they call you to the table to start the meal.

Granddaddy washed his hands and settled into his chair. The hostess brought in the platter and lifted the top off the gourmet meal.

There on the plate was an entire possum with an apple in its mouth.

Granddaddy would eat anything. Rabbit stew. Turtle stew. Frog legs. Sweet potatoes. (I know, sweet potatoes seem out of place, but I hate those things.)

But, when he saw those possum eyes staring at him, he politely excused himself and went home to eat Vienna sausages and soda crackers.

I’m sure the high society folks at the party carried on about how fancy the meal was. But, wouldn’t it have been a hoot if the main course had jumped off the platter after “playing possum?”