Cosmo the Killer
Last Thursday was Maxie's birthday. I derive a sense of security from the day of my daughter's birth. Not only was she born on Father's Day, which becomes all the more significant when two fathers are involved, but she was also born on the same day as Isabella Rossellini, Carol Kane, Roger Ebert, Paul McCartney, E. G. Marshall, Jeanette MacDonald, William Randolph Hearst III, John D. Rockefeller IV and in the center square, Mr. Uday Hussein. You see, all these folks, along with my darling three year old were born on the Day of Financial Security. (Not that that helped Uday.)
My sister, a while back, gave me one of those birthday coffee table books that has never lived on my coffee table. It's called The Secret Language of Birthdays, and in it the reader is given insightful information about "personology profiles" for each day of our calender year. Now, I couldn't tell you the special name for the day on which I was born. Nor could I tell you anything about Michael's day, nor Sebastian's. But Maxie, lucky minx, was born on the Day of Financial Security. And not that I'm a staunch believer of this tome, but I think that's just swell.
I imagine if I were a stellar parent, I would have preferred the Day of Happy Life, the Day of Good Health or the Day of Finding Deep Everlasting Meaningful Love. Even the Day of Decent Looks and Moderately High IQ should probably rate above. But in these fiscally difficult times it provides me with some solace that my girl will not be selling thimbles on the street corner. Now if I can only get her to sharpen her sharing capabilities.
Anyway, on this last Day of Financial Security, as I was glazing the chocolate croissants with a beaten egg, I looked out the window and noticed something dead on the lawn. This is not unusual in our back yard. You see, our dog is a cold blooded killer. We got Cosmo at the Pasadena Humane Society. They told us he was half red husky, half chow. With his curled tail and face mask, the husky part makes sense. However they were way off base thinking our mutt could be part chow. As Cosmo (named after the libation) grew and grew and then grew some more, we ticked other breeds off the list as well. German Shepherd, no. Malamute, no. Great Dane, no. It was only after talking to another owner walking his very Cosmo-looking dog that we found out the truth. I asked him what breed his dog was. He looked down his pointed nose and with scathing contempt spat out, "This is not a dog. This specimen of supreme pulchritude is a wolf."
That explains the four or five dead rats, the three dead squirrels, two dead birds, one dead skunk, one dead house cat (which belonged to our neighbor, amazingly still a friend) and too many to count dead opossums. And that's what I saw on this Day of Financial Security, a dead opossum. I grab two plastic shopping bags and do what I do. There is no way Michael will bag cosmokill, so it's up to me to butch up.
Sebastian insisted on helping me and that made me ask myself, at what age are we supposed to teach our kids about death? I wished I could have remembered the name of the day on which he was born. For instance, if he was born on the Day of Takes it All in Stride, then helping me bag a rigor critter wouldn't have been an issue. However, if he was born on the Day of Even the Smallest Thing Can Set Him Off, I might want to create a diversion.
I've since decided that Sebastian must have been born on the Day of the Grosser the Better. He couldn't stop asking questions. Why is the opossum dead? Why did Cosmo kill the opossum? Why is the opossum covered with bugs? When will I turn into a girl? Choosing to deal with his transvestism later, I tried to sum up the back yard violence by matter of factly bringing up The Lion King, circle of life and all that. He barely listened to my partially thought out response. Instead he wanted to poke the dead opossum with a stick.
I heard the garbage truck on our block, and I figured if I sprint I can get the beast in our black bin and he'll be whisked away by Los Angeles's finest in waste removal. But something stopped me. I must have missed it before. Outside the door leading to our back yard, a dead baby opossum was laid out for us. As a cat offers it's kill to his master, so did Cosmo. Once again, this was not hidden from my six year old, who thought the dead baby was a neato keen bonus. I figured if I didn't get too sentimental, I could throw baby opossum in the Vons shopping bag with the dead adult opossum and still make it to the trash man. As I placed it's skim milk colored body into the bag, I saw its sibling trying to wriggle out of the bigger opossum. ALIVE.
Oh, my God, it's a dead mommy opossum and she's giving birth!!
The garbage truck was getting nearer but the only thought going through my head... Abort mission. (Perhaps an unfortunate choice of words.) I may have no problem throwing cosmokill into our trash bins, although I highly suspect it may be against the law, but I draw the line at throwing out the living, no matter how disgusting they become when they reach puberty. But beyond keeping this creature from getting compacted by a garbage truck and serving chocolate croissants piping hot, I wasn't sure what my next move should be.
As the day progressed, I found out some stuff. Opossums are marsupials. The little one was three to four months old, not a newborn. (Newborn opossums are about the size of your thumb nail. Our guy was three inches.) It was wriggling out of Mama Opossum's pouch, not birth canal, as I first suspected. And there is a Crazy Opossum Lady in the environs of Los Angeles who collects stray and orphaned opossums.
I've blogged about Maxie's preschool before, little did I know that the Managing Director knew all about marsupials. She's from Australia for dingo's sake. So, I brought Lucky to her wrapped in an old baby blanket. (Yes, we named it Lucky.) And she was to give it to Crazy Opossum Lady, who has had up to one hundred opossums at once! She only has thirty at present and was eager to expand her tribe.
Now that Lucky has been delivered, I can focus on my daughter's birthday party. No sooner had that thought knocked into my head when the phone rang. It was the school. Crazy Opossum Lady informed them that mama opossums usually have seven or eight bambinos, and she ordered me to go back to the corpse and inspect the pouch for more sibs. I mustered up all my butch for this one. Once again, plastic bag in both hands, I found the pouch with its many teats, but no babies.
Sunday. Day of Maxie's party. Before I take a shower, I go out to clean up dog poop. Two more shopping bags, my carbon footprint getting deeper and deeper as I preserve dead marsupials and excrement in plastic. And that's when I found him. Another dead baby. Eyes closed, the color of skim milk. Sebastian came outside, his death fascination hardly waning, and he found one as well. One by one we called out, "Here's another" in a bizarro Easter egg hunt kind of way. We found six dead baby opossums on Sunday. Add to that the other dead baby and Lucky and that makes eight total. Crazy Opossum Lady was right.
Don't judge me children, but after reliving the grizzly story of my daughter's birthday, it most definitely is cosmo time. (Killer cocktail, not killer canine.)
PS. I was curious. I went back to the book. Sebastian was born on the Day of Earthy Chemistry.