Thursday, March 3, 2011

Why Skunks Love Me - Part Three

The greatly anticipated Part Three is here! If you have not read Part One or Part Two, you should. I also recommend you read the post that got the skunk thing going.

This story happened when I was much older...around 22 or 23. We decided to go on a camping/paintball extravaganza. It was going to be epic and in many ways it was. We gathered a decent amount of interest, gassed up our paintball tanks, loaded up on paint, food, supplies, and headed off into the wilderness. We drove up into the mountains to Kolob reservoir which sits above Zion National Park and shares borders with this most beautiful area in the universe.

Yes, I took this pic. The hike up there just about killed me, but so worth it.
 We found a nice spot next to the reservoir, water lapping softly against the shore feet away. We pitched our tents, cooked food, laughed, and told stories, but not these stories. Soon darkness fell. We continued talking as the fire died. Soon someone yawned and the contagion spread through our camp until we realized we had to sleep.

My mom and a few siblings took the tent. Mark, my older brother, and I thought it would be a good idea to sleep outside. It was a beautiful warm summer night. We unrolled our sleeping bags and crawled deep into them, still one of my favorite sensations as the crisp air washes over my face, cooled by the lake, while the bag warms up to a toasty level.

Why did we sleep outside? Anyone who has looked up at the night sky from Southern Utah doesn't need to ask this question. The stars are so bright and numerous, it would be a shame to ignore them. I also like to see one or two falling stars before I drift off to sleep. Camping tradition.

Kolob sits over a thousand feet above Zion. The air is thinner and the stars even closer. You can practically taste the milky way in the air and almost hear the stars sing their lonely songs as they spin and dance in the emptiness of space. The stardust in your blood from ancient supernovas picks up the song and hums back to distant relatives. You feel connected to the universe for a few moments before sleep folds you down into oblivion and dreams.

I don't remember my dreams while camping. I sleep too deeply and well. I awoke with a pressure on my chest. For a fraction of a second I thought of my little brother's dog, Puppy (Real original name, I know), and I thought of pushing him off.

I have always been a spacial person. I have never been one of those people who wakes up unsure where they are, forgetting where they fell asleep for minutes until the memories flow back. The reality of my location in a sleeping bag on top of a mountain spiraled back into my mind before I even opened my eyes. I was NOT home! That was NOT Puppy on my chest!

I had a creeping suspicion what I would find as I cracked open one eyelid, carefully controlling my breathing and movement.

Yep...just what I had expected...a skunk lay curled up on my chest, sleeping.

I know, right? How do they find me? Is there some skunk social network with little black and white posts? "Hey, my skunk peeps. If you run into Charlie, he's cool. Totally hang with that guy! Feel free to let him scratch your head, give you some gum, or just take a nap on his chest."

Whatever the reason, they know! I had to lay there frozen as the little guy snoozed soundly on my chest, like the family cat on a lazy Sunday afternoon. Then Mark started to snore...loudly. It is the only way he knows how.

The skunk started awake and gave my brother the dirtiest look I have ever seen a skunk give.

It stood up and paced back and forth on my chest, raising its tail at my brother. I could do nothing. I just watched as it puffed out its fur and kept making angry faces at the noise emanating from my brother. This is it, I thought. This is the time I'm going to get sprayed. Thank you Mark.

But then the skunk turned, looked me in the eyes, and waddled off into the woods. I breathed a sigh of relief and then started laughing. I woke up my brother and told him how lucky he really was to have my silent communion with skunks save him. Then my mom started snoring.

 My mom's snores put my brother's to shame. Her snores rolled across the lake, echoed off the hills, woke up slumbering chipmunks miles away. A bull on the other side of the lake must have thought the deep thrumming sound was a mating call of some wild cow, sorry mom. He took to answering her snores with deep lowing. This went back and forth for several minutes as we giggled outside the tent.

When the bull, bulky black hide and long pointed horns, started making its way around the lake to us, we woke my mom up. Didn't want to find out what a lonely bull would do when it found out it had been duped.

We then played paintball. Mark plays like Terminator. He walks through the forest, paintballs bouncing off him left and right. If you spot him first, you better not miss or you are dead.

This was the first time I remember getting him out. I was cowered in a bush waiting. I heard him take out four or five people, their screams as paint tore into them...or at the injustice of paint bouncing off my brother. I knew he headed my way. I breathed slowly. He came over the rise, making his way toward me. I resisted the urge to just shoot. I had made that mistake before. I waited. I breathed. He walked closer. I waited. He looked toward my hiding spot and I knew he saw me. My finger reacted. POP! He could no longer see me, pink paint blocking all view as my first shot splattered across his mask. One of my happiest moments...ever!

This is my last skunk post...until my next skunk encounter. I am going to build a teardrop camper though so, hopefully, I can keep the things from sleeping on me again. Love them, but enough is enough.


Michael Offutt said...

You should turn these into a story or even a novella. This whole thing could easily have fit into an eighties Dan Akroyd / John Candy thing but with a 2010 spin to it. The writer in you comes through in the details and descriptions--very nice.

Brent Wescott said...

I think you're making this up. Have your readers noticed that you conveniently don't have any witnesses to these so-called skunk encounters? Does your wife believe these lies?
I mean, great story, Charlie. The first picture is a great drawing. Even better than the other valley drawing I commented on before. :)
It Just Got Interesting

Apoliticism said...

I'm waiting for the story of you and a skunk rolling around licking each other silly.

Sarah said...

Loved your skunk favorite stuffed animal growing up was my skunk...still have it somewhere. =)

Kristi said...

I am very impressed at your ability to lay still and quiet with a wild animal on your chest. Especially such a potentially smelly one! I don't think I could have done it!

Chanel said...

You are the only person I know that has ever said that you love skunks.


Sometimes Choo Choo curls up on my chest while I'm sleeping. It's kind of like having a skunk sleep on your chest because you never know if she's going to pass gas while she's up there. Little dogs make big stinks.

Candice said...'s so refreshing to read posts written by a fellow Utahn. I've only been to Southern Utah a few times, but it is really beautiful.

My Dad's entire side of the family snores like chainsaws! It's awful! We can't go to a family reunion without bringing some heavy-duty earplugs, otherwise we'd never get to sleep! I actually have a funny story about my dad's snoring. Remind me to do a post about it sometime...

Anyway, excellent series. I'll have to make sure you're around the next time I'm in a place that has the potential of being inhabited by skunks. You could do your weird "skunk-whispering" thing and protect us all from certain doom! :)

Doug Stephens said...

If you did put this into a novel or movie, no one would believe it. I can picture Seth Green and Freddie Prince, Jr. in the woods... better yet, let's not picture that.

Bryan M. White said...

Charlie, did it ever occur to you that maybe you just smell kind of skunky? :)

Seriously though, I really like your description of laying out under the stars. You really rose to the poetic occasion.

P.S. Your brother looks like he may have a bit of a drooling problem.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I've done a lot of camping and I almost sh*t my pants once when I went to pee in the middle of the night after some excess beer consumption and while I was squatting there in the woods I heard this noise. I shone my flashlight to my left and there, right in front of me, was a giant effing ELK. Watching me. Holy crap. I think I ran back to my tent with my pants around my ankles.

However. NEVER has a skunk mistaken me for a bed. :)

Alex's outlook said...

hahhaa I laughed so hard out loud in the lobby of my work I think people think I'm crazy....Who cares you are hilarious!!!!

Morgan said...

I also laughed out loud! lol But luckily I am in the privacy of my bedroom! ;)

The Man Your Husband Is Worried About said...

This is an unbelievable number of skunk encounters. Yet I believe you, so I guess I don't use the word "unbelievable" correctly.

Emily White said...

What a great story! I especially love that your mother has the ability to attract a horny bull! Hahahahaha!

This whole series has made me think I should write a story or two about how bees are my little minions. :)

Danyelle said...

I'm loving these stories! You are definitely a skunk whisperer. And that, as you have proven, is an awesome super power to have. :D (Love the pics that go along with the story as well.)

Kim said...

These skunk stories are AWESOME, Charlie! I seem to attract squirrels, myself. Love the illustrations, too!!! Have you considered sending these stories to Cicada? It's like Highlights magazine, but for teens (I think they're owned by the same company.).

Don't you think you could work skunks into your next Bookshop Talk post? I hereby challenge you!!!

Charlie Pulsipher said...

Michael- Thank you. You must be right. So many others echoed you. I should turn some of these stories into something more.

Brent- I make nothing up. What? Do you think I'm some kind of fiction of science stuff? But, seriously, all these happened pretty close to how I tell them. Skunks just love me.

Jared- But you are not a skunk...

Sarah- Go hug that skunk for me. Ü

Kristi- You would be surprised what you are capable of when the time comes. I also have mad not moving skills honed over years of scaring people, capture the flag, and paintball.

Chanel- Yes, Mahoney does that too. Sometimes it is almost as bad as a skunk too, but dissipates a bit faster.

Candice- I have begun snoring and it makes me sad. I never used to. I am reminding you now to do a post on it. Thank you. My wife and I would also love to join you and your husband/family if you ever go camping down here and need a skunk guard.

Doug- Thanks. Now I can't unpicture it.

Bryan- Me? Skunky? Never! I smell like a meadow in spring. Thank you though. My brother doesn't really, but I wanted to show his utter lack of consciousness. He laughed, so it is all good.

Veggie Assassin- That sounds horrifying. Who knew elk were such peeping toms? I'll take my nice fluffy skunk friends over perverted elk any day.

Alex- So going to miss working with you...and you are a bit crazy.

Morgan- Same as above. Will miss you and you are crazy even if you keep it in your private home. Ü

The Man- Nope. I think you used it is all true, but it does stretch believability.

Emily- I know. We laughed about it for days, making the sounds back and forth. It was so funny. You should write that story. I would love to read about your little blck and yellow minions.

Danyelle- Thank you so much. I love reading your blog so much too. I am glad you are enjoying my little attempts.

Kim- Thank you. My wife also has some squirrel stories, velocasquirrels. I am too old to submit work to ten years. So sad. I will try to work skunks in if you really want me to do another post. Ü

Chanel said...

@ Candice: be careful! He might teach his Skunk Charming trick to Tyler! Or your kids! And then you'll always be finding them!

Charlie, how long does it take skunk smell to dissipate? Because Choo Choo' fill up a room for fifteen minutes before it goes away...

Charlie Pulsipher said...

From what I've heard, it can last several weeks on Choo Choo's fifteen minutes are sweet in comparison.

Kim said...

Charlie: Boo on Cicada! Do they think we're too uncool after 23 to relate to teens? :) Sorry to mislead you with the submission information. I honestly had no idea they only accepted submissions from 14-23 year olds! Too bad, because they're looking for lots of humor stuff, and your skunk stories ROCK the humor world. And yes, you MUST write another Bookshop Talk post. And lots of reviews, too. Tell your wife I feel for her--velocisquirrels sound freaky! Mine just ate my bike seat.

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