As if being awakened by my dream last night was not enough, insert animal drama.
4:30 AM, finally back asleep, dog races out the dog door and starts barking. Please, no. Lying half awake, I hoped he would come back in without me having to yell out the door. Please, please, please. The sound of the dog door told me my plea was answered. Kind of.
Simon jumped on our bed, thrashing his body. At first I thought, Oh no, he has a rat. Then I realized the strong smell invading my nostrils was skunk. He was sprayed. Shit. Jumping out of bed to try to grab him, he bolted for the living room, stopping first to rub his body against the carpet in the bedroom, then again in the living room, his grand finale our couch.
I grabbed him with my bare hands and carried him to the bathtub, his eyes swollen shut, whimpering. Dazed by the time on the clock, I was still not entirely sure what was happening, I just knew I needed to clean his eyes, fast. Rinsing them in the tub, the stench was so strong I had to grab a cleaning mask. Oops, didn’t shut the bathroom door. Simon escaped and rolled some more.
Finally, mask in place so I would not vomit, which with the severity of the odor was feeling increasingly possible, I rinsed his eyes and began to scrub. This was my second mistake. My bare hands massaged the soap into his short coat, uncertain where he was sprayed, thinking it was just his eyes. Then I realized I was rubbing the skunk’s bright yellow spray on his neck, its powerful odor sinking into my finger tips. Still, I soldiered on, uncertain what else to do, Alex working hard to google our options. I was just concerned about clearing his eyes.
Fast forward two hours of cleaning the dog and our house, the smell still overwhelming, I left for work, frazzled but still on time. Telling another teacher my story in the hall, I realized I now smelled too. The spray was in my pores. The vinegar, tomato paste, water, soap, hand sanitizer, you name it, was not enough. In fact, I stank.
Another teacher walked into my classroom, unaware of my story, and declared “What’s that smell?!” Normally this question would be completely unoffensive, the common side effect of teaching a room full of thirty children, but by then the answer was embarrassing. I had left for work, reeking of skunk, without even realizing it because everything in my house smelled.
I wanted to disappear. I wanted to go home, although not to my home, which was still a skunk war zone. However, being smelly did not seem like a good enough excuse to call an emergency sub, so I toughed it out. Students entered the room, noses plugged, unaware I was the source of their displeasure. We sat down to morning meeting and I began with a conversation about empathy.
“I’m going to tell you a story that is both funny and embarrassing, so it is important you use empathy to only laugh with me and not at me.”
The time spent preparing them for the story was worthwhile, they laughed, but only when acceptable. Most looked embarrassed for me. They were fascinated, enthralled, could not ask enough questions. My favorite, “Is it the same as a skunk fart?” And, to my great relief, they stopped covering their noses after we discussed how it might make someone else feel. I reminded them that as much as it was gross to them, there was nothing I could do to escape.
So, in the end, I survived the stinkiest day of my life. The rumors grew throughout the school, some teachers hearing from their kids that a skunk had to be chased out of my classroom. Home now, my house still stinks, and I probably do too. Next on the list, try, try, again to make the smell go away. So far, google has not solved my dilemma. And, yes, I’ve tried tomato and vinegar based products, thank you.