By LARRY WOODY
Awhile back I read a story about a local elementary school that was evacuated after somebody smelled a skunk.
It wasn't even a live skunk. It was a defunct skunk.
Government workers were called in to "handle the situation."
That's government-speak for shoveling up the dead polecat and hauling it away.
I'm surprised they didn't first hire a consultant and appoint a committee to study the situation.
Not to make too much of it, but I think this helps explain what's wrong with the world today.
Back when I was a kid, we took care of our own skunks. Our teachers didn't sound the alarm and go running for the exits every time someone got a whiff of one.
I speak from experience. When I was in the second grade my cousin Jerry and I were prowling around in a field one night, doing Kid Stuff, when my faithful old dog Kazan stumbled upon a skunk.
Kazan and the skunk went at it like Crips and Bloods, and I waded into help my dog. Jerry - older and wiser by a few months - steered clear.
When the dust settled the skunk had escaped, but not before hosing Kazan and me down with enough stinky scent to make a buzzard's eyes water.
When we got home, my mom disposed of my clothes but tried to salvage my nearly-new shoes. She scrubbed them in hot, soapy water but they were still ripe. They smelled like a wino who'd dabbled Rosewater behind his ears.
The next morning I went to school, and as soon as I walked into the classroom heads turned and noses wrinkled.
Our teacher, Miss Wigglebottom, opened the windows. Then she called me up to her desk and inquired about my interesting aroma.
I told her about last night's exciting skunk hunt.
Miss Wigglebottom, listened attentively, then asked just one question: did I own another pair of shoes?
I said I did.
She said to go home, post-haste, and put them on.
We lived only about a mile from the schoolhouse, so the walk home was easy. Plus it got me out of school. I thought about keeping the stinky shoes on hand for similar future use, but my mom vetoed the idea. My nearly-new shoes went into the trash.
There are a number of significant points to this saga:
. Miss Wigglebottom didn't panic and evacuate the school; she calmly got rid of the odor-causer.
. My mom didn't call a government bio-hazard unit to handle the situation; she took care of it herself.
. My cousin Jerry is a lot smarter than I am.
. My dog Kazan had trouble getting a date for a long time afterwards.
That wasn't my only brush with a skunk. One summer one of the striped varmints dug under my Grandma Harriet's chicken house and chowed down on some of her prize pullets.
She set a trap in the hole, and the next night when Mr. Stinky returned for a second helping he got caught.
Grandma Harriet didn't yell for help; she grabbed her trusty garden hoe and went after the ornery polecat all by herself. I watched the tussle at a discreet distance as Grandma and the skunk did battle, dust flying, scent seething, hens squawking.
Grandma Harriet won. She not only dispatched the chicken thief, miraculously she didn't get spritzed. But for sometimes afterwards, her fowl had a foul smell.