Gawd it sucks to be North America’s sole marsupial. Sucks even more if you’re one that’s had the distinct disadvantage of being born and raised in L.A. Sure, your first few months out of the pouch are spent chauffeured around the neighborhood on mom’s back. But once on your own, rare is the city opossum that lives more than a couple years spent dodging poisons, pets, predators, pellet guns or Pirelli tires until it isn’t just playing dead anymore. It’s, as only Monty Python could put: “Joined the bleedin’ choir invisible! It’s an ex-‘possum!”
And the prejudice? Jeez but legion are the haters. Freaked out by an appearance that belies the opossum’s placid and gentle demeanor, too many people nevermind the fact that the shy, nocturnal critter cleans up our greenspaces by eating snails, slugs, cockroaches, snakes, rats, carrion, and overripe fruit. Instead of even a shred of consideration they fearfully shiver and they “Ewww!” and they “Yuck!” and they champion the ignorance that The Only Good ‘Possum Is A Dead One. It is just such sad people who chuckle at the Toyota print ad in the current issue of Entertainment Weekly that pictures a poor opossum caught on the asphalt and in the headlights of an onrushing Camry, and reads:
Mile 000174: For the first time you see how ugly possums really are.
Mile 000174.1: You swerve anyway.
Right about now I would normally go PETA on Toyota’s ass and rant about how clearly appalled I am at such a reprehensible callousness coming from the very same nature-loving maker of the sainted Prius. Or I could diatribulate on the hateful distastefulness of the word “ugly.” And I could further bore shitless those of you still reading with my respect for life in all creatures tall and small (it’s up there with my irrational reverence for public transportation and alternative commuting). But I’ll stop here and just cut to the chase: I’m sending the OC-based Opossum Society of the United States a $25 donation, and thanking Schizoyota for making it too easy for me never to consider buying one of their products.