During a 40-minute run on the Fox River Trail this morning, my partner and I chanced upon a sordid scene. Right below the Metra Railroad bridge that crosses the river, a dead opossum lay headless on the asphalt. I looked up at the tracks 40 feet above our heads and tried to imagine the sad moment when the possum made the decision to end its life by leaping off the bridge. What could drive a creature to make such a sad choice?
Well, it helps to know a bit about opossums in order to understand the probable context of its sorrow and despair. See, the Opossum is a marsupial, defined as “a mammal of an order whose members are born incompletely developed and are typically carried and suckled in a pouch on the mother’s belly. Marsupials are found mainly in Australia and New Guinea, although three families, including the opossums, live in America.”
And there are people here in America who can’t stand the idea that Opossums are not normal. So I visited a website titled http://www.wehatepossums.com to extract some of the content documenting why some people hate opossums so much. Here is what it said:
Listen up, people. Marsupials are not “normal” like the rest of us mammals here on earth. In fact, they’re not mentioned in the Bible, and to that makes them ungodly. They run around making that nasty grin all the time. It looks like they are channeling the devil himself.
And have you read this stuff about their babies being aborted prematurely and carried around and inside a pouch? That’s just un-American.
Speaking of Un-American, the opossums we have here in the Good Old U-S of A officially don’t even belong here. They evolved on some ancient continent named Pangeea, for God’s sake, and used to live only South America. But then they come up through Mexico when they heard about all the good garbage cans here in North America. So they are illegal immigrants and have spread all over the country like vermin.
It’s true! All these opossums do is live under our gardening sheds, hide in our woodpiles and eat the food we set out for our cats. Then they climb up trees and taunt us with those tails hanging down like curly penises. Opossums are the Animal of the Devil. We need to send them all back down to Bolivia or somewheres like that.”
So you can see why your average opossum doesn’t let itself be seen much in daylight. When people openly hate you for so many reasons it gets a little depressing after a while.
So Opossums mostly keep to themselves, and haven’t really learned much English as a result. They only speak “possum” amongst themselves, as immigrants to American have done for millennia. It’s a difficult thing to integrate and learn the language when people make it so clear they don’t want to speak with you in the first place.
But possums are actually really useful. It turns out Opossums do jobs that no one else really likes. Check out this bit of news from a website called Inquisitr.com. It turns out possums are our main weapon in the frontline War Against Ticks.
“Several states in the U.S. are reporting record populations of ticks and increasing tick-borne disease transmission, like Lyme disease, but clearing your yard of these blood suckers might be only one opossum away. Yes, that giant rat-looking animal that plays dead when threatened and hisses like the devil’s spawn when scared is actually extremely beneficial to humans and other mammals. Opossums’ diets include snakes, snails, slugs, mice, rats, and carrion. Perhaps the most intriguing item on an opossum’s daily menu is an even more dreaded human foe: the tick. Opossums’ voracious appetite for ticks can nearly obliterate a tick population.”
This is rather joyous news because ticks are essentially the equals of unscrupulous investment bankers who suck the lifeblood out of the economy while leaving behind the disease of distressed properties. Those are the bloodsucking creatures we actually should deport. Or at least we should burn their asses with a lit match, the country boy’s typical treatment for ticks.
But opossums actually eat ticks, thereby ridding the nation of a horrible pest from fields and woodlands. And to carry out this function all summer long, opossums go through quite a bit of pain and suffering all winter. See, opossums were evolved in tropical climates, and as such have ears evolved to distribute heat from their bodies. These papery thin ears are ill-suited for life in the colder regions of North America. As a result, their ears get frostbitten in extremely cold temperatures.
So we should be thanking opossums for all the good they do, ridding the nation of wasted food and bloodsucking ticks. But instead, we have the haters who malign them as illegal immigrants, calling them ugly names. Who can blame an opossum for playing dead when people come up to them with such anger in their souls?
So you can see why an opossum might actuall be moved to end it all for real, and throw itself off a bridge to splat on the trail below. That also answers the question why so many possums wind up as road kill. There is a high rate of suicide among social creatures who feel cast out of society. A creature so hated and unappreciated might feel it has little reason to live.
Now it turns out that presidential candidate and well-known immigrant hater Donald Trump has aimed his wrath at opossums as well. “We have a possum problem in this country!” he shrieked at a recent rally where his supporters hung dead possum carcasses on sticks and marched around the plaza screaming, “Death to Possums!”
Trump then outlined a “plan” (as far as that goes…) in which he proposes to gather up all the possums in North America and send them back over the border to Mexico. “They can walk home from there,” he barked to the crowd. “We don’t want to pay bus fare for a bunch of garbage-eating creatures,” he crowed. And the crowd cheered while throwing bloody bits of possum carcass on stage.
It is threats of this nature that likely drove our possum friend to throw himself off the railroad bridge last night. These are harsh times for possums or anyone else that does not hail from White Bread America. Word has it Trump has his eye on the raccoons as well.”We sure don’t need coons in this country either!” he yelled at the same rally. “Who knows where they came from? Let’s send them back right away! And make them pay for it! Look at their ugly little masks, and how they wash their food with those tiny little paws. And that tail. It makes them look like a jailbird!”
The voice of the crowd surged in response, and Donald Trump waved his arms until someone pointed out his resemblance to an orangutan. And then the crowd went silent. Could it be their leader bears such a close resemblance to a mere ape? Could it be that he is the one that should be confined to a cage with bananas shoved through the bars.
We shall see. We certainly shall see.