I knocked on the door of Sylvester the skunk’s enclosure. While waiting I heard a strange hissing sound as if someone was spraying something in the air. Moments later the door swung open and Sylvester beckoned me to enter. An overpowering mixture of perfume, room deodorizer, aftershave lotion and body wash almost knocked me to the floor. A can of air freshener was in one paw of Sylvester; in the other a lighted fragrance candle. I had heard from other members of Mindy’s Menagerie that Sylvester had been acting a bit strange lately and decided to check up on my friend.
The first words out of Sylvester’s mouth to me were; “Tell me the truth Mindy, do I smell? I’ve noticed that your dad moved my table to the very end of the row and placed an extra bottle of scented hand sanitizer on my table as well. Tell me Mindy, I can take it. Do I stink?”
To be truthful, I couldn’t understand what the heck Sylvester was talking about. His popularity had never been better; So much so that dad moved his table to the end row to handle the larger crowds waiting to see him. More people equal more hands and therefore more hand sanitizer.
In fact, there was talk of adding Sylvester’s wife, Chocolate, to the show. I realized that Sylvester needed help with his “I Stink” phobia. After a few minutes of small talk I left, assuring Sylvester that he smelled no different than any of the other animals in Mindy’s Menagerie. Walking towards my room I again heard the familiar hissing sound of air freshener coming from the little skunk’s room. I decided that it was time for an intervention.
The intervention would be in the pen of Pokey the Porcupine. Attending were Purse the Alligator, Scarlet the Boa Common Constrictor, Cuddles the Rose Hair Tarantula, Pokey and myself. Sylvester arrived a few minutes later. With head hung low he opened the door and entered. A strong fragrance of Old Spice followed him into the room.
Pokey the porcupine was the first to speak. “Sylvester, you worry that people find you offensive. They think you stink. You are a skunk and people were taught that all skunks stink. Yet people stand in line to hold you and take selfies with you. I am a Porcupine. People think all I do is shoot “quills” at them. They never hold me and only the bravest will pet me.” Purse the Alligator was next. “When they look at me they think of Jurassic Park. Why do you think I am always smiling when people hold me.” One by one each animal told Sylvester of their own fears and concerns. “If I bite someone, they think they will die, Cuddles the tarantula said. How crazy is that?” “When I squeeze someone, it’s gently and meant with love. I’m not trying to break their bones and eat them” remarked Scarlet the boa constrictor. Sylvester finally realized that everyone felt they were all misunderstood. They were the victims of “MYTHS”.
I summed it up. “Sylvester, humans have grown up believing in myths. Porcupines will stick you, alligators will eat you, tarantulas will poison you, boa constrictors will crush you, all skunk’s stink and all monkeys do is take coins, wear clothes and smear poop on the walls. That’s why dad selected us to be in the Animal Shows. To educate people about the truths and untruths and that though we are different from dogs and cats we are also a part of the animal kingdom. That’s what we do. THAT IS OUR MISSION.”
The next day I slowly passed a large garbage can filled with bottles of air fresheners, perfumes and deodorizers. Smiling, I bent down and picked up a bottle of perfume. Though I had a lot to do today I would make it a point to later place the bottle on dad’s dresser. “I hope he gets the hint.”