Readers’ Revenge: Worst Animal Encounters

Grey SquirrelIt’s time for the next installment of Readers’ Revenge, the weekly feature in which we turn Grantland over to you, the unpredictable reader. This week’s topic was Your Worst Encounter with an Animal. As usual, the response was terrific and I wish the list could have been twice as long. A lot of tough decisions were made; this is the part of my job I enjoy the least.

Below are the top e-mails. The topic for next week will be: Your Worst Rejection. Romantic interaction? Club? Team? Frat? Church? Something else? Send your story to by Sunday for a chance to make the list and live on in history, or at least until someone finally bans the Internet. Stories can be about you or someone you know, and anonymity is allowed. E-mails with a high degree of hilarity and humiliation always do well.

A note of caution about this week’s edition: Some of these are a little … graphic. So. You’ve been warned. You can read old installments of Readers’ Revenge in the box below. Enjoy!

Let me start of by saying no opossums were hurt in the making of this prank, it might have really pissed it off, but all for a good cause. Again, we aren’t rednecks either, but after this story its hard not to picture us with flannel and jorts on.

Back from school, it was summer break, and my friend and I worked during the day but still too young to buy beer. My friend lives near a wooded area and opossums had been getting into his dog’s food bowl and night. Instead of setting lethal traps we figured we would catch them and bring them somewhere else. So we built a trap and started catching a few from time to time. We had another friend — we will call him “Sam” — and Sam had started dating a girl we didn’t really like, mostly because she was taking summer time away from us and we all went to different schools to play sports. So we figured we would let one of the opossums into his yard one night while he was on a date. How do we get it to stay? Well we figured a leash would work great, and then we could tie to a mailbox. Well that is funny and all, but what if the opossum was bright red? Then he would be king of the opossums.

So we set the trap for the day went to our summer jobs and once we returned home the wonderful prank was there. We got some Kool-Aid and sprayed the opossum down. We figured that if he was going to get painted he might as well get a treat while becoming the coolest opossum of all time. We came up with a leash system to get that on him with ease and loaded him in the back of the car. Yes, a car. We didn’t have a pickup truck, but we wished we did, because a freshly-caught opossum painted red puts off quite a awful smell. We got to the house and tied the leash to the mailbox and opened the cage to let the king out. We then went home to wait for Sam to arrive home.

This was a time when AIM instant message was still popular so we waited on there like little girls waiting to to see him log in. The conversation went as follows as I had to save it to a floppy disk later uploaded to read for future events. This is the actual conversation that night.

Sam: Holy hell I was pulling into my driveway and the biggest opossum was there just sitting in my drive way.
Me: Opossum? he didn’t move out of the way when you pulled in?
Sam: No he just sat there as if he was King of opossums
(you can’t make this up, by this point we have wet ourselves with laughter)
Me: That is crazy, he might have knife waiting for you in the morning.
Sam: Holy crap he is still out there!!!! and now he is on my mailbox just sitting there.
Me: Told you dude he is going to cut you in the morning for being on his turf.

The next morning, I woke up to get ready for the summer job and I heard that sweet sound of many messages being sent to my computer. I then realized that the opossum has stayed the night.

Again actual messages sent.

Sam: I can’t really tell but the thing is F-ing Red!!! He is bright red!!!!! You have to call me when you get this.
Sam: He is just sitting there on the mailbox.

Of course, I had to calm down, otherwise he would know it was me when I called. So the phone conversation was equally as entertaining.

Sam: So I got up this morning and my dad was standing drinking his coffee staring out of the front window. He told me to come here as he seemed to be looking at something but wasn’t sure what he was seeing. He said Sam I think that opossum is bright red sitting on our mailbox.
Me: Ok how is he red dude?
Sam: I don’t know but we figured he must have got into something but he is bright red and on the mailbox. This is insane man!!!
Me: is there really a opossum on your mailbox or is it just a squirrel or something?
Sam: I swear we walked out there and its a giant red opossum, I’m pretty sure he hissed at me and gave me the finger.
Me: Has he left yet?
Sam: No he seems to be tied up or something we couldn’t figure it out.

Sam’s mother later called Sam to let him know the opossum was caught on a string that someone got attached to the mailbox. Crazy how things happen. We never had admitted we did it, but over Christmas break, a blue opossum showed up tied to the mailbox again and they started to piece the puzzle together.

— Andrew A.

It was a warm autumn morning, early enough that as I was walking to the Dumpster, I didn’t see another person. It was also early enough that I was doing so in an inappropriately short shirt and pajama pants. It was not too early, however, for my father to call to tell me he’d watched some nature program about antipodean animals that maim, kill, and destroy; he was relieved that I was safe at Vassar following my junior year abroad in Australia.

“Do you know about stone fish?” I balanced the phone between my shoulder and cheek, shifting the trash bag so I could open the Dumpster door. The light was the color of amber.

I try to remind myself of that autumnal quality of light, that he was not actually glowing with unholy venom. There was a moment when our eyes met, yes. We were equally surprised to discover that I’d interrupted his breakfast.

“Oh, and jellyfish! So many different kinds of jellyfish. Let’s see, there’s …” In slow motion, my cell phone clattered from its perch on my shoulder, losing its face plate under a nearby car; my scream echoed from the sleepy windows of the surrounding apartments. I tried to slam the cover on the Dumpster. I was too slow.

Gnashing and clawing, he was already attached to my exposed stomach. After an enormous amount of screeching and swatting, a knuckle made contact, a dull thunk on his skull. He released me, hissing as he scurried into the woods. (“Poor fella,” the nurse at the clinic would later say. “You probably scared him half to death!”) Shaking, I examined my abdomen. The claw marks weren’t so bad, they hardly broke skin; the puncture wounds left by teeth were bleeding substantially.

“Box jellyfish. Irukandji jellyfish. Those are the size of your fingernail and they’ll kill you dead,” My father’s voice buzzed from the damaged phone splayed across the pavement. I interrupted him.

“Dad, I have to go. I just got attacked by a squirrel.”

— Lauren M.

On a cold night in Mississippi while in college, my (current at the time) girlfriend and I decided to go get something to eat. In an attempt to be smart about the weather I ran outside while she was getting ready and started the car. However, as what has become a disturbingly consistent ending to most of my plans, I did something not smart and ran back inside without closing the door.

After about five minutes (it didn’t take her five minutes to get ready, otherwise everybody would think this story was a lie, I just knew she had about five minutes left when I started the car) we walk outside to go to the restaurant. She gets in the driver’s side, me in the passenger. I close my door when suddenly … a velociraptor’s head pokes out from the back seat and attempts to tear my ear off. No seriously, a legitimate fucking dinosaur. Me, I’m a smart guy. I scream, hop out of the car and slam the door shut behind me (give myself an extra second to get away, see smart), damn near kick in my own front door, Call-of-Duty-dolphin-dive over the coffee table and under the couch and grab the shotgun I keep there (yes, I’m a bit paranoid), retreat to a position where I can observe both the front and back door and wait for the monster to come after me (because raptors can open doors, as Jurassic Park proved).

So I sit there and wait … and wait … and wait … and nothing. In another dumb moment, I start inching toward the door very carefully. As I’m reaching for the door handle the door flies open and standing there … is my (current at the time) girlfriend. And she’s in one piece, unbelievably! But for some reason she’s very upset with me. I don’t know why, I forgot she was even out there. She punches me in the chest, pushes past me and stomps up the stairs. I have so many questions, most importantly — where is the damn dinosaur? I slowly creep up to the truck, peer in through the door and see … a 40-pound yellow lab (six-inch tongue hanging out of its moth & 1980s Mercedes single windshield wiper tail going a million miles an hour in tow) sitting in my back seat. Turns out he was just chillin, getting out of the cold and happened upon my open truck and blowing heater and figured this place was as good as any. Ends up being easily one of the top three nicest dogs I’ve ever seen, and spends the night in my bathroom. Least I can do right?

Needless to say, me and that girl are no longer together, not sure what happened to the dog … I should have kept him, would have always made for an interesting story.

— David

My family has been running a landscaper business for about 15 years now, which has been great since it paid for my college education, car and eventually a house. About 10 years ago (when I was 16), a family friend would borrow our truck and trailer to run his own business. When we needed it back I would drive over to pick everything up. It made no sense for me to be the one traveling to get the equipment since he was the one using our stuff, but I did it.

This family friend had a crazy dog, which was always tied up to the porch. Every time I came over the dog would go ape shit, barking and growling. After a while, I resorted to teasing the dog with a variety of methods. Then one day I went over there, I parked my car and began to walk over to get the truck and trailer ready. As I was walking, I looked at the dog and it didn’t seem like he was tied up for some reason. I was frozen there just staring at him to figure out if he was tied up. Obviously, he was not tied up, and he saw this as an opportunity.

I was just hoping if I stood still, like people to tell you to do when you see a bear, he would just leave me alone, but I was dead wrong. Once I saw him begin his sprint toward me, I made a mad dash for my car. As I am opening my car door, the dog got a firm piece of my ass cheek. He took a nice chunk out, which was probably coming back to me for all the teasing I did to him over the summer. Once I got back into the car, he just strutted back to the porch and sat down with a sense of accomplishment on his face.

I ended up with a big scar on my ass, a funny walk for about a week and an awkward sitting position for about a month. The scar did, however, become a talking point with several ladies who wanted to see it. I can safely say though, I never got laid because of it since a scar on a hairy ass is never that attractive.

— Joe R.

A few years ago, my family and I made the transition from New York City apartment dwelling to suburban home ownership in bucolic New Jersey. In the backyard of our “new” home was a koi pond. On about the second day in suburbia, I bought a half dozen koi from a nearby pet shop. After a few weeks, we noticed our school of koi reducing from six to five to four and eventually down to a single fish. We restocked twice more with the same outcome — disappearing koi.

One day, my wife looked out the family room window and noticed a rather large raccoon flicking the fish out of the pond popping them in his mouth. Now, a wiser man most probably would have consulted the Yellow Pages under “Pest Control.” Myself, however, having lived in New York City, where pests (cockroaches and mice) flourished, thought: How difficult could it be to eradicate this vermin myself?

The next weekend I trekked to the nearest Walmart and purchased a “have-a-heart” cage-type trap. On Sunday evening, I slathered a wad of peanut butter on the trigger mechanism and set the trap next to the pond. On Monday afternoon, my wife called me at work and frantically advised that there was an “animal” in the trap. When I got home, I confirmed that there was one very pissed-off raccoon in the trap.

My strategy was to transport the trap to my office the next day, as the building is set back off the road and surrounded on three sides by some “woods.” The next morning, I tried to pick up the trap. The incubus in the cage was in a pissy mood and promptly began to hiss at me. Being a bit agitated myself, I threw a blanket over the cage and put the trap in the back seat of my car and headed to my office.

The drive is only about 10 minutes but it felt like hours. The devil incarnate appeared to be grabbing the bars of the cage and was intent on separating them to extricate itself. I had visions of Edward Scissor hands-like claws repeatedly slashing the back of my head. This was in addition to producing that ungodly hissing sound which gave me douche chills. About half way to the office, the car filled with a smell that could only be described as ammonia mixed with rotten fish. The bastard pissed on my back seat.

Finally, I arrived at the office and parked in a remote location in the lot adjacent to the woods. I opened the driver side back door and reached in to pull the cage out. The raccoon was now possessed and seem intent on biting / clawing anything in its reach. Fearful that I would loose multiple fingers, I opened the passenger side back door as well and pushed the cage out of the other side with my foot. The cage landed on its side and the trap door opened a few inches. Beelzebub leapt toward the opening and managed to get its head wedged in the half open cage door. I’ve heard the ensuing sound only once in my life previously — from my wife during the birth of our 10-pound, 14-ounce son.

I’m now suffering a “WTF now?” moment as I sweat profusely through my shirt and suit jacket and perhaps even through the soles of my shoes. After about 30 seconds, the raccoon was able to get out of the cage. It sauntered away from the car toward the woods. After about 10 steps, it stopped, turned toward me and glared. To this day, I swear I heard it say “fuck you” before waddling into the woods.

My car still smells like raccoon piss.

— John M.

The Fair in the county I am from in North Carolina isn’t just rides. It is also an “Ag” Fair. There are many agricultural and livestock contests. There is also a petting zoo. If you will, imagine a goat pen for a moment. It was built a little bit like a square hockey rink. It had white boards that were probably three or four feet high, and then plexiglass attached above the boards. The pen was full of goats and was also surrounded by gumball like machines that put out feed pellets to feed the goats. You pay a quarter, you go in a gate, you feed some goats, you move on to the next attraction. At least that is what I thought at 5 years old.

I could not have been more wrong.

At 5 years old, I could not see over the boards, and when I entered the pen with my father, I was eye level with most of the viciously hungry, and impatient goats. This is a little bit scary to a 5-year-old, though my father told me, “You’re fine. They won’t hurt you.” And then it happened. He took the feed out of his hand with a wicked smile on his face and and stuffed all of it in my pockets and left. Yep. He was that guy.

He stood outside looking through the plexiglass and laughed. The worst part is that I didn’t know why my dad had left, and I didn’t know he had put the feed in my pockets. I still contend that at least 200 goats tried to stick their face in my pockets at the same time. I stayed in the pen for what felt like an hour, staring rabid goats in the eye and screaming for my life. (It was probably more like 30 seconds.) My father finally came in to get me, and I probably ruined the rest of the night with my hysterics and trauma. You have never in your life seen a wife more pissed at her husband than my mother was at my father. He still gets a pretty wry smile every time this story is brought up at family gatherings.

He has a saying now when I say something in life isn’t fair: “Fair comes once a year in September.”

— Clay N. Charlotte, N.C.

My family takes a vacation every summer to northern Minnesota. We stay in cabins and spend the week fishing, swimming, golfing, etc. We always have a great time but those good times and my life as I know it almost came to an end 15 years ago. One of our favorite activities was swimming and sitting in the beach-side sauna every night. We would sit in the sauna for 30-plus minutes until we almost overheated, then we would run and dive into the cool lake and swim for a little bit. What could possibly go wrong? Sounds great and refreshing, right?

One night we had completed the cycle a few times and decided we would go for one final sit in the sauna and swim before heading in. So like I have done a thousand times before I ran out of the sauna and into the lake. I took a good run into the lake and dove head-first. When I came to the surface I thought I felt something in my swimming trunks (these were the old trunks with that annoying mesh liner). My cousins told me I was crazy so I took a couple steps then I felt a pinch on the tip of my pre-pubescent wiener. Fearing for my sexual future, I quickly reacted and grabbed just to the right of my junkyard.

Much to my dismay, I felt something and even heard a crack. I sprinted to shore holding the mystery dick pincher with my hand. With my three cousins standing around me thinking I was joking around I squeezed tightly to crush whatever this thing was and when I felt it was no longer a threat I shook it down the right side of my leg and it fell to the ground. We all stood there in disbelief as we looked at the ground and saw a crushed six-inch crawdad staring back at us. When I dove into the water my shorts separated from my body by maybe an inch and in the ultimate million-to-one shot I managed to catch the crawdad in my swimming trunks!

I froze the crawdad and kept it in my parents freezer for several years for added effect when I re-told the story before ultimately using it for fishing bait once I was finally over the ordeal. For those wondering everything “downstairs” is fully operational, the only lingering side effect is to this day I refuse to dive into a lake. Next time you dive into a lake, just keep in mind you never know what you might catch.

— Luke D.

So I went to the zoo with a female friend several years back. I like the zoo and the girl was cute, though squarely in the friend zone. Believe it or not, I was fine with this.

Like all ominous encounters at the zoo, my humiliation began at the petting zoo. We had just went through the aviary, always the dullest part of the zoo (except at the San Diego Zoo, which is awesome). I’d already seen the great cats and my personal favorite, the bears. But I love animals and I thought it’d be nice to see some cute goats and stuff to pet. There are virtually no lines because it is a weekday while school was in session, so we got to pet the animals all we wanted. As we turn the corner, I come face to face with a large white animal, with no fence or cage of any kind separating us. I took off, flashing my 6.9 40 time, and bolted away from the beast. I had probably run about 50 yards before I had the courage to turn around and see what had happened behind me.

I looked back and saw the girl furiously pumping her little legs in an effort to escape, as I had not hung around to protect her or even warn her of the danger. And best of all, I looked back and saw a big white crane looking at me. The bird then flew away.

— Brandon H.

Here’s my awful tale. Just some context for my story: I’m Mexican. My story takes place in a Mexican elementary school.

When I was in the fourth grade, we used to play this game at school called “Doble.” (It means “double” in English. I have no idea why it’s called that.) The game consists in throwing a tennis ball as hard as possible to a large wall and have everyone else playing try to catch the ball. Once someone catches the ball, they have to throw it back to the wall and have someone else catch it. Sounds pretty simple, right?

The tricky (read: sick) part is that if you touch the ball without catching it, if you fumble it or drop it you have to run to touch the wall with your hands and everyone playing can kick you anywhere in your body (yes, including your miniscule fourth grade nuts) as many times as possible until you reach the wall. Also, if you catch the ball really far away and your shot doesn’t reach the wall, you have to run through the kick jungle to touch the wall. There also some “execution” scenarios, in which a poor bastard has to stand up against the wall and everyone in the game can throw the tennis ball at him as hard as possible. But, let’s not get into that … Yeah, better not.

Anyway, this one time none of the playmates caught the tennis ball and it landed pretty far away, right beside some flowers and in very weird angle from the wall. It was a pretty tough shot. No one wanted to get the ball and risk an ass-kicking. I, trusting my tennis ball-throwing abilities, stepped up to make the shot. Dumb move. As I approached to get the ball from next to the flowers, I realized that these plants were infested with bees. I was already there; I couldn’t back down, not with everyone watching. So, I picked up the tennis ball hoping none of the bees would notice a husky fourth grader. For a second there, I thought I had actually fooled them.

As I was preparing to make my shot, I realized that one of the bees had gotten inside my pants. It was on my calf, climbing from underneath. Climbing. Climbing. STUNG! Right on my left butt cheek. The pain from the sting made me drop the ball. My playmates did not see a bee stinging my ass with the entire little bastard’s might; they saw a green light that signaled “KICK.” I had to go through all of my playmates (who were trying to murder me) hopping on one leg, crying my balls off. I don’t remember if I passed out once I reached the wall. Probably did.

— Alex V., Guadalajara, Mexico.

Beautiful, Alex. In upstate New York, we called that game “Spread Eagle,” and the memories are every bit as jarring as you describe.

Filed Under: Say What, Shane Ryan