Thursday, April 24, 2008

Mammal Massacre

There's a dead possum in the road leading to my house. Ew. Accompanying this now-inanimate creature is the unmistakeable stench of scrunched skunk. Ew. Over last weekend, I saw a dead bear by the side of Route 15. I don't know if she was hit by a car or shot. Ew. The next day, the bear was till there, but not her head. Oh, god. The deer have been enriching the local body shops, too, apparently, judging by the twiggly-limbed corpses strewn over my route. Ugh.

What I haven't seen in this mammal massacre are woodchucks - not a one. Squirrels, sure, lots of them, and chipmunks, too. A cat or dog now and again, but never a woodchuck. I even saw a flattened beaver last fall. Therefore, I have come to the conclusion that a) woodchucks know what cars are and 2) they are pushing their fellow mammals into oncoming traffic. This leads me to believe that woodchucks are the sociopaths of the mammal community.

Now, I've never seen them pushing their animal adversaries in the path of a Peterbuilt, but, c'mon - two and two equals, right? So, why do they do it? For kicks? Because of chronic, unresolved validation issues with their collective parentage? No, no - they do it for the money.

Okay, okay. You think I'm insane. Well, the eleven people in my head say otherwise.

Here's what I think happened. About 100 years ago, when the automobile business was just getting off the drawing board and onto the road, well, okay, the roads weren't all there yet, so - would you give me a break? You know what I mean. Anyway, the collision business formed by newly-emigrated Italo-Americans to service busted-up flivvers weren't doing so good. Why? Because there weren't yet enough cars to smack into each other on an ongoing basis, of course. So, what to do? Easy - create accidents thereby, stay in business!

Now, the body shop owners could have got Cousin Leopold or some such poor relation to wander into traffic and stir up some wrecks, but how obvious is that? Animals not only seem innocuous, they often are. Of course, most animals will run away from motion, which is why they have to be pushed. This is where the woodchucks come in.

On the plus side, they're short and it's easy for them to sneak up behind other animals who are already too close to the road. They're fairly agile, as anyone who has observed them scurrying in their waddling way suddenly dip into a strategically-placed burrow will tell you. They are very soft-spoken and non-threatening. But, here's the thing - they are closely related to - you guessed it - rats! Unlike rats, they burrow, as previously mentioned, and I'm sure you've heard James Cagney mutter "you dirty rat," referring to those "dirt rats," the scheming, immoral woodchucks.

In the beginning, the shop owners would pay the woodchucks with termites and other tasty insect snacks, but the 'chucks soon got greedy, demanding cash money for the execution of their dastardly deeds, or else. It's rumored that one body joint in Pasadena held out on the woodchucks, refusing to pay for a round of "business." The next morning, the entire shop was gone - the foundations had been undermined by the digging of a battalion of these very serious animals. Word got around and the woodchucks were respected as forest denizens to this day.

In short, when you see a pattern emerging, be sure to also consider what's not there. The missing piece of the puzzle is probably a woodchuck.