It wasn't much of a surprise when I read in the local newspaper that my old Alma mater, James B Dudley Sr High School in Greensboro, North Carolina had enrolled a possum. After all, the fact that I held a diploma from there was pretty much proof that anyone who showed up on a regular basis could be expected to graduate. And I figured the possum would be spending most of his time in the dumpster out back of the lunch room so it wouldn't matter anyway.
But when the privately owned, esteemed Greensboro Day School-- known for its high academic standards and students from the families of the Irving Park elite-- announced they too had enrolled a possum, or as they put it, an opossum whose family resided in east Greensboro and not Irving Park, well talk about town quickly became that the new student was obviously a token possum meant to give Greensboro Day the appearance of diversity both in terms of species and economics.
After all, you know how people and possums in Greensboro are constantly pointing out the various divides.
As it happened, away from school both these academically gifted young possums were friends and lived in the same forest. One evening after school, after having done their homework, the two of them were scampering through the woods together, digging for grubs, eating worms, eating ticks, gallivanting around, hanging from their tails, and doing all the cool things possums enjoy doing.
Well everything except for that. You see, these possums were boy possums and they didn't go that way. At least not yet. Perhaps later on in college.
The two of them were running through the woods when all of a sudden they both stepped into a steel jawed trap chained securely to a nearby tree! After much screaming and struggling from the awful pain the possum from Greensboro Day shouted, "What do we do? How do we get out?"
Taking a slightly calmer approach and displaying the street smarts that students in public schools are more apt to learn the Dudley possum answered, "We learned about this in gym class."
"They teach trapping classes at Dudley?" the worried possum from Greensboro Day asked.
"No," the Dudley possum answered, "a white boy brought a trap to gym class and told us how it worked. Then he trapped the racoon that goes to school with us."
"What happened to him?" the Greensboro Day possum asked.
"They expelled the white boy," the Dudley possum replied.
"Not him," the Greensboro Day possum shouted. He was beginning to get anxious. "What happened to the racoon?"
"He chewed his leg off and got loose," the Dudley possum answered.
"Oh how horrible!" the Greensboro Day possum exclaimed. "Please tell me the white boy told you another way to get free from the trap."
"Nope," the Dudley possum answered, "ain't but one way to get free from a steel jaw trap and that's to chew your leg off."
"I can't do that," the Greensboro Day possum insisted. "Why that's just barbaric."
"Barbaric it may be," the Dudley possum commanded, "but it's chew your leg off or end up as gravy and your fur on somebody's hat."
And with that the Greensboro Day possum watched was the Dudley possum endured the long and painful process of chewing off his own leg before hobbling away saying, "I'll be back to check on you in a few days in case you change your mind."
"Goodbye," the Greensboro Day possum cried as the Dudley possum hobbled out of sight.
A few days later, feeling only slightly better, but somewhat medicated, the Dudley possum limped back into the woods where he found his friend, the Greensboro Day possum still gripped by the steel jawed trap. "You're still here?" the Dudley possum exclaimed. "Why not chew your leg off and get away before the trapper comes back?"
"Chew my leg off!" the Greensboro Day possum exclaimed. "I've already chewed three of them off and I still can't get out!"
And now you know why Greensboro Day School no longer provides scholarships to opossums and other marsupials.
The previous was my adaptation of an old joke whose author is unknown.