My mother had a good skunk story
November 18, 2020
I was awakened in the wee hours one morning last week by the unmistakable odor of freshly launched skunk spray wafting its way through closed windows into our house.
We haven't had a skunk visit for a while, but all it takes is a whiff and the memories come flooding back.
I was but a young girl when my father killed both a skunk and a basketball on our porch one night using only a single bullet. You don't see that kind of marksmanship every day.
My mother, though, was the star of our family's most legendary skunk story.
She loved to go out on the porch late in the evening to ponder the night sky, visit with our various and assorted pets, and enjoy a moment of peace and quiet.
That particular evening, she was wearing a long robe and slippers and it was long past sunset.
She spied a small critter sauntering past, assumed it was a cat, and leaned down to stroke its back.
Here's where some light may have been useful, because it might have revealed the two broad white stripes down that furry back.
The skunk wasted no time in reacting — a highly predictable skunk trait — and within seconds my mom was doused … soaked … drenched … saturated. Pick a verb, any verb. It was not good.
The kicker was that she had a plane ticket to fly the next day from Lubbock to Houston to reunite with my dad who had been there for a few weeks for medical treatments.
She did all the right things.
The robe and the slippers were immediately dispatched to the burning barrel.
She showered again.
Here is an interesting thing about the human olfactory system. Sometimes those glands simply shut down from over-stimulation.
The next morning, with no reliable way to know how successful she had been in her odor-abatement efforts, she headed to the airport with a vow to immediately retreat if she noticed anyone flinching or gasping or gagging.
Miraculously she made it aboard without incident and soon landed in Houston, where she snagged a taxi. She was still anxious but also cautiously optimistic since she'd successfully completed that flight with no obvious reactions from other travelers.
You may have already guessed the first question my dad had for her as she let herself into the hotel room: “Were you sprayed by a skunk?”
Now, try to imagine her level of mortification. Try to imagine having been THAT passenger on the plane.
But the worst part for her — the part that haunted her for the rest of her life — was thinking about the cab driver.
Because on the plane she had a veneer of anonymity offered by the crush of other passengers in close proximity.
But in that cab … well, in that cab, it was her and her alone.
All my poor horrified mother could do was to wonder what that cabbie thought as she climbed in the backseat of his car and her … um … perfume … drifted forward.
Somewhere in Houston he may still tell the story.
I think it begins this way: “Oh yeah, well, I can top that. One time I picked up a woman from the airport who had just been sprayed by a skunk.”
Betty Williamson knows a good story when she smells one. Reach her at: