The Norman Transcript

February 8, 2013

The lingering gifts


The Norman Transcript

NORMAN — You cannot be rid of some things. Even if you pass it on or bury it, it keeps coming back.

Let’s take a skunk as an example. It may look cute and cuddly, but the skunk, like the porcupine, is quite antisocial. As far as it is concerned, don’t even think about getting up close and personal with it. This is a lesson our dog, Spaz, has yet to learn. His insistent barking at night is followed by the occasional wafting of irate skunk perfume outside the back door, which makes it impossible to go outside without hazmat gear.

When we come across dead skunks on the highway, they still have the power to offend our refined noses. This is one of those situations where the scent of a skunk lingers long after it is flat and no longer squishy and juicy. Of course, the process of flattening by countless cars and trucks continues to release that distinctive perfume. Which is why, vehicles will suddenly swear in hopes of avoiding the dead, but still dangerous, critter. A stealth skunk gift, if your windows or air vents happen to be open, is that the scent permeates the interiors of our cars and trucks in an instant. Gas mask, stat.

Did you know that aside from the continuing and odiferous gift of the skunk, other dead critters can be re-gifters as well?

Let’s say you are walking across the pasture wearing sandals or flip flops, which by the way is not a smart thing to wear outdoors in the country. Suddenly, something clamps down on your bare tootsies. And it hurts. Imagining the worst, as in a poisonous snake, you look down and see something whitish.

Did I tell you country living has its charms?

After you liberate the captive toes, you take what turns out to be a small skull to spouse. Since he grew up in the country, he immediately identifies the dead little bugger.

“It’s an armadillo skull,” he says with a shrug.

“Do I need a tetanus shot? Will I die from the bite?”

“Nope.”

“Are you telling me that besides digging holes in my flower garden and aggravating the dog, they can return from the dead and chomp on my toes?”

“Sometimes.”

A man of few words.

On a more human plane, some gifts are only appreciated when we give them away (also known as re-gifting) or when we hide them and hope they are forgotten.

Christmas is the most opportune time for such gifts to rear their inevitable heads. Aside from the ubiquitous fruit cake, which has long ago fossilized as it passed from hand to hand and no one dares to open the package, there are the “gag” gifts. The recipient is supposed to open the package and burst out laughing, sometimes.

Hubby is a kind person by nature and in the murky past my sister put that kindness to the test. No matter what he received, Hubby always managed to look delighted and thanked the giver.

She found a purple tie which was a cross between dark lilac and good-God-it’s-an-Easter egg-in-the-shape-of-a-tie. The evil sibling wrapped it up and gave it to Hubby for Christmas, expecting a shocked reaction or exclamation.

Hubby open the box, held up the tie for everyone to see. “Oh! Thank you very much.”

Eventually, the tie became the pass around gift. No one knew who would be blessed with it, but everyone laughed, secretly rejoicing that they did not get it. This painful practice continued until my father received the tie. He opened it, put on his most disapproving professorial face and swiftly buried it in his pile of gifts.

The purple tie never saw the light of day again, which is a good thing because somewhere along the way my sister also found an incredibly large cup size purple bra to match the tie.

Elizabeth is a freelance writer and author. Check out her novel “The Dionysus Connection” on Amazon or ask your bookstore to order it for you. Visit her website www.elizabethcowan.com.

For local news and more, subscribe to The Norman Transcript Smart Edition, or our print edition.