Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Stank

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 PepĂ© 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.


Elizabeth M. said...

Auuuggggghhh. We have a stinky little resident in our neighborhood, and I worry that it's just a matter of time before our cat runs into him. You're right, from a distance skunkiness is a sort of pleasant reminder of the untamed. Up close, it can wake me out of a dead sleep.

Good luck! I still want to hear your thoughts on monogamy, if this hasn't driven the whole subject out of your head for good!

Anonymous said...

I'll be curious to hear what you think, because her philosophy is so, well, unconventional. Duh, I know, but still...

I know of two couples who had open marriages. For a while. One marriage ended over it and the other one is still going strong, but only because one spouse insisted that the swinging had to end.

Oh, and no skunks in the Greenbrier neighborhood of C'ville. :-)

BarbaraCA said...

I find that argument intetesting, but WAY flawed. Biology once meant we'd all lose our teeth to rot and die by 30, too. And, hey, don't some animals mate for life?

I think the drive to make of the sexy time, and feel connected to others whom we feel attracted, is one hell of a drive. Duh. But saying an open marriage is a biologically natural seems like the flip side of saying monomogy is biologically natural. I suspect folks make the argument whichever way they want to behave anyway.

Our goofy dog was sprayed on August 15 of 1998 and August 15 of 1999. We moved before the date came around again.

Anjali said...

I'm terribly sorry about the skunk situation, and terribly jealous about Writers House. Makes me want to move to your neck of the woods.