On Friday night, I went to see Jenny Block speak at Writer House, our brand spanking new organization here for writers. Block wrote Open, a memoir/polemic about marriage. She and her husband decided years into their own marriage that they wanted it to be an open one. Right now, Block is married and she also has a committed relationship with a girlfriend.
Which, basically, is not for me to have an opinion on. But I was kind of unsettled by her insistence that monogamy goes against our biological imperatives. This post was going to be an examination of that.
Until some biological imperatives of a different sort came up.
I came home, poured myself a beer, and went out back to have a cigarette. Because Simon is my short and fuzzy shadow, he came with me. He trotted out into the yard. There was a kerfuffle, and the next thing I know, I see a fluffy animal scuttling off near the a/c unit. And there is Simon, stumbling up onto the porch, foaming at the mouth. A skunk sprayed him.
You know, I always thought I sort of liked a skunk smell. I don’t mind a mildly skunky beer, for example. But that was before I knew what skunk really smelled like, which is: What you think of as skunk, but mixed with an overpowering stench of rancid garlic and rotten onion. I called to Brandon, who got on the phone with the emergency vet. Caleb started bawling, and Luna got frantic to come outside. I hung out with my poor stinky pup who continued to foam at the mouth. I didn’t know where the hell the skunk was. I was scared that it would amble up the ramp onto the porch and spray us both (not likely, I realize in hindsight), but every minute or so, I said loudly, “Go away, you motherfucking skunk.”
We treated Simon with a baking soda/ peroxide/ dish soap solution, and then made a mistake: We put him in the basement until we could figure out what to do.
It’s a long boring story. Let’s just say there were several baths in the back of Brandon’s truck, there were tomatoes to be pureed, there was a basement to be mopped vigorously with a bleach solution. There were windows open in the dead heat of mid-July, and there was boiled vinegar. But most of all, there was paranoia that the three of us humans would become so used to the smell that we wouldn’t be able to tell that we were rank, too. That we would forever be The Family Stank, trailing fumes like Pepé Le Pew.
Later, I think, I’ll write about Open because it really is an interesting book. But right now I’m thinking that so-called biological imperatives—whether it’s an urge to have sex with OPP or to spray my dog with skunk stank—for me, can only create a mess and leave me paranoid about the aftermath.