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I type with trepidation early this morning in my Little River, S.C., living room, the back screened-porch door cautiously open to the sounds of light rain and a crow cawing in the distance for his breakfast.
Things just haven’t been the same since I got lured in by my new Magic Mesh instant screen door, one of those As-Seen-On-TV miracle products that seemed to be just what I—and my cats—needed to survive summer.
Just hang it with the enclosed Velcro tape—easy-peasy—connect the middle magnets and go. Your pets, the upbeat commercial proclaimed, can easily bound into the great outdoors through the middle opening, which closes automatically thanks to the magnets. The two suspended, connecting screen halves, meanwhile, let cool air in and keep mosquitoes and other unwanted critters-of-summer out.
Of course, the helpful As-Seen-On-TV commercial uses a hyperactive Boston terrier to illustrate how easy it is for pets to run through the Magic Mesh door, rather than four perplexed cats gazing at the newly installed open-air barrier with expressions demanding, “What the %^(*@! is this?”
Approximately two of the felines eventually figured out how to pussyfoot through the magic door, just like that hyper terrier. For others less willing or able to learn, their human owner decided to separate the bottom magnets to create an informal, A-shaped pet-door opening.
This system and the Magic Mesh worked fine during May, when it was cool enough to keep the door to the porch open and the air conditioning off, especially in the evenings when I have a tendency to drift off to sleep.
Then came June, when I learned not to do that.
That’s when I awoke, not long after I had closed the Magic Mesh back door for the night, to find the opossum playing possum in my house.
The first clue was the stinky “present” I got up and found on my bathroom scales. I won’t go into great detail—that would be Too Much Information. Suffice it to say I flushed it down, wondering at the same time what was wrong with my cats.
Returning to slumber, I soon awoke again to the wailing of one of the cats, followed by a crash in the front entry hall. That’s when I saw what appeared to be a giant rat ambling across the floor, one of the cats gazing from his perch at the critter with indifference.
I did what any brave woman would do—I shut myself up in my room and started to hyperventilate.
Then I realized I—and only I—had to do something about the rodent or marsupial that had invaded my home, because those dang cats sure wouldn’t.
I flung open the back doors and Magic Mesh and grabbed the nearest weapon—one of the umbrellas the critter had knocked over in the fallen stand. I opened the back door, then poked the first hiding place—and quickly found the beast cowering behind a curtain. I heard him skitter. I wasn’t wearing my glasses at the time, but was sure he’d run outside.
I proceeded to “fuhgeddaboudit” as I returned to sleep, then started my day and routine a few hours later.
Late that evening, I heard a noise from under the desk, where I learned the opossum had been playing possum all day while I was gone.
I shut off all rooms, blocked the possum’s latest hiding place under the desk and, retrieving my umbrella of choice, once again flung open both back-porch doors. After a game of chase, the animal, which I had ascertained was a fully grown possum that hissed when dissed, finally ran outside.
At least I think he did.
It’s been almost two weeks now since the possum’s drop-in overnight visit through my Magic Mesh door, and I haven’t found any more presents.
Laura Lewis is a staff writer at the Beacon. Reach her at 754-6890 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.