Over the summer I was in my home state of Ohio visiting family (yes, alas, I originally hail from that hotbed of idiotic conservatism). I was very amused while there by a radio show where listeners were calling in with various funny 'varmint stories.'
(By the way, 'varmint' is a variation on the word 'vermin' -- an animal considered a pest.)
You know the kind of story -- birds in the chimney or house, bats in the attic, a family of chipmunks robbing the kitchen, skunks under the porch, etc. Good fun stuff like that. One of the stories I heard about was the tale of a woodchuck climbing up onto the engine block of a guy's car or truck (forget which) and refusing to be dislodged. Very humorous, and rather unbelievable. How could this happen? I wondered. How could an animal be so stupid?
Well, it happens. Take a look:
This, dear friends, is a picture of the inside of the air-conditioning fan of my Honda Civic. That gross-looking thing is a dead varmint -- opossum, I believe, but it's hard to be sure.
So here's my varmint story: On the way back from the Buckeye state, I spent a night camping in Allegany State Park in Western New York. As dawn approached, I was awakened by the distinct sound of a small animal climbing among the workings of my car engine. I couldn't believe it! Could this really be happening to me? After awhile, the climbing stopped. I got up, got dressed and gave a few shoves to the car to see if it might be frightened away.
Then I made a fateful decision. I decided to start the car. Certainly, that would scare away the mysterious beast (remember, I had not seen it, and had no idea what I was dealing with). So start the car I did.
Then I hear a mad scrambling, and subsequently an awful racket coming from what I eventually discovered was the fan of the air conditioning system. The musky smell of varmint filled the car. I instantly realized what had happened. The photo shows the result, one week later, when I took my car to the dealer to have them extract the dead animal at a dear price.
One thing I have learned: Opossums are not very smart.