The Recorder – And Then What Happened?: The Right Village
It was May 8, the last day of the New Orleans Jazz Fest that marked the event’s exultant rebound after two years of quiet. For me, that culminated in a month-long marathon of 14 hours of work as a coordinator and panel writer for the festival’s art department, and Trombone Shorty’s triumphant stage bow at the end of that final night. allowed me to go home and sleep. I was exhausted like the damp mop of lettuce that I found neglected on the bottom shelf of my fridge, and so I decided to forgo dinner, finish the day’s homework happy and go. to bed.
I dragged the garbage from the kitchen outside since the pick up was the next day, I had polite greetings with the neighbors about the successful festival, I came back, I closed and locked the door, I collapsed to make sure no one was sending last minute instructions. for the launch the next morning in the festival teardown, and I heard someone in my kitchen.
I live alone in New Orleans and I don’t remember inviting anyone to visit me. But someone was slamming things against my kitchen wall, so I burst in to find out who it was and what they thought they were entitled to in there.
Crouching on my overturned trash can, a giant opossum hissed at me. Giant I say because this guy was 2 feet long before his cock started. “What are you doing here?” I asked. He hissed his equally profane reply, jumped down and backed into the corner of the small pantry, sticking his head out with plenty to say.
It was 10 p.m., only eight hours before dismantling began. I considered locking him in the kitchen until morning, but realized that not only did the kitchen have no door, but there was no barrier closing the rooms in this house, so my guest could become my bedfellow if he wished. It didn’t seem like a good end to an exhausting day. What did I know of opossums? Not enough.
In New Orleans, I knew that for a two-legged intruder, I could call the police. But four legs and a tail? Who are you gonna call at 10 p.m. to get a possum out of your kitchen? I called Warren Kirkpatrick, the Ashfield animal control officer, whose number is speed-dial on my phone.
His hoarse voice told me what I feared.
“Warren!” I said, “I’m so sorry I woke you up!” It’s Nan Parati and I’m in New Orleans, and there’s a possum in my kitchen, a big one. And you’re the only person I know who can tell me how to get him out.
“Well,” said Warren, “Let me get dressed and I’ll be right there.”
“I’m in New Orleans!” ” I said.
“New Orleans! Louisiana!”
“Oh!” he said, wide awake now. “It won’t work then.”
“What should I do?” I asked.
“Do you have a pitchfork? »
“Not here in town,” I said.
“Well, if you’re really fast, you can grab it by the tail and lift it very quickly in the air. You startle them like that, they can’t bite you.
I looked at the opossum. He hissed at me as if to say, “You better not try anything like that!” That’s how opossums talk in New Orleans.
“Do you think he’s going to bite me?” I asked.
“I don’t think so, but you just don’t know what he’s going to do,” Warren said. I stepped out of my flip flops into hardcore shoes and asked Warren a lot of questions about the emotional stability of opossums.
Warren on the phone gave me the support I needed to figure out my plan. I thanked him deeply and released him to go back to sleep.
I write festival signs on corrugated plastic that comes in 4 by 8 foot sheets. Armed with Warren’s information on opossum traits, I cut a 2-by-8-foot sheet of Coroplast into a barrier that I installed between the sink and the opposite wall, creating an area of about 2 feet between us. With the opossum still crouching in its pantry, I climbed over the barricade and opened the outer door. Then, back to the safe side of the wall, I grabbed the broom like a replacement pitchfork, reached behind Mr. Hissing Possum, and gently pushed him out of the pantry and toward the door. Ooh, he was angry and swore at me loudly, though I just rolled my eyes since Google Translate doesn’t have an Opossum-to-English setting. I saw it in his body language, though, hissing opossum threats over his shoulder as he descended the kitchen steps to the backyard.
It really takes a village to cross life, even if the village is sometimes located 2,500 km away. Thanks Warren! And if you ever need to know how to… set up a festival at 11 p.m., I’ll be there for you.
Nan Parati lives and works in Ashfield, where she found her home and community after Hurricane Katrina. She can be contacted at [email protected]