Rodents of Unusual Size

It’s been three years since I returned to Philly, but I still haven’t gotten used to this city’s inexplicable abundance of ‘possums. When Ana and I were living in the Art Museum area, the critters would routinely traverse the concrete wall in our backyard. It was always during our barbeques that one of the monsters (which bear a striking resemblance to the ROUSRodents of Unusual Sizefrom the Princess Bride) would trot along, oblivious to our company. “Oh, don’t mind him,” we’d say, as guests recoiled in fear and disgust. “He’s just passing through.”

When we moved to West Philly last year, I figured we’d moved out of ‘possum territory. I figured wrong. According to Penn’s pest management specialist, the beasts are “very native to West Philadelphia.” And the Inquirer says they’re completely harmless: “Opossums rarely carry rabies, they hardly ever knock over garbage cans, they love to eat rodents and insects, and they are not aggressive (when threatened, they just play possum). So why would a man chase a nursing opossum into a neighbor’s yard on Mother’s Day, beating it with a pipe, and leave it for dead with 10 tiny babies in its pouch?”

Um, I can think of at least on reason. When you go onto the porch at 1am to have a smokey treat, there’s nothing more freaky than having those evil green eyes staring down at you from a tree limb overheard.

Petey the Clark Park 'Possum
Petey, one of the many ‘possums that have been kind enough to grace our front porch.

After three years of being terrorized, I finally took it upon myself to visit the ‘Possum Network, a robust site filled with information on possums in poetry, literature, and music. It hasn’t exactly made me a fan, but it’s nice to know that, if nothing else, I can sing away my blues with “Possum, the Latest Craze”, by G.A. Scofield.

Sence Bill Tafts cum to Wash-ing-ton
De Possum’s all de rage.
Its serv’d in all de Restarants,
An all de bes’ Ca-fays.

Dat luscus bit of temtin meat.
Your’e sure to find a treat.
An’ its now de swellest morsel
For most any one to eat.

(REFRAIN)

Oh its Possum, Possu, Possum.
With sweet Potaters on de side.
Just ask dis coon and see how soon
He’ll tell you dat’s his size.

Da never was a minit
Any other food was in it.
For de Juicy, Juicy Possum takes de prize.

Ole Teddy Bar’s a dead one now
Sence Bill Possum’s come to town.
An’ it taint no use to make excuse
Or raise a fuus an’ frown.

Jes get in touch wit’de President
Eat Possum when you dine
Den ask a Job of de Goverment
An’ you’ll cert’ly be in line. …Refrain

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