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Terry Talbert column for Saturday, 11-2

November 02, 1997

I must look like a sucker. My whole family must look like suckers. For some reason, all manner of creatures, insects included, seek us out.

Sometimes this is not good.

For example, it is not good when 150 mosquitos attempt to bed down in your right nostril, all at the same time. That happened to me once in Canada, and it was no fun.

When mosquitos are overcrowded, as they were in my nostril, they get irritable and bite.

Nor is it good when poisonous snakes try to wrap themselves around your appendages in search of warmth.

That happened to my Great Aunt Lyda, who lives in Georgia, on more than one occasion in her younger days. She was like a magnet for cottonmouths and copperheads, and had close encounters with rattlers on more than one occasion.

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Unfortunately for them, she 1) hated snakes and 2) packed a loaded .45-caliber pistol.

Aunt Lyda didn't fool around.

Stray cats, such as "Turkey butt" Fang, come to my sister-in-law Gail, and toads are attracted to her mother Shirley. My brother is the Pied Piper of iguana-dom, no doubt driving them to distraction with his baby blue eyes. Ralph still recalls fondly Spikette, who turned anorexic when he went on business trips, and had to be fed intravenously.

Squirrels had a fascination with my late Grandma Myers - so much so that one ran up her pantsleg during a visit to Hagerstown several years ago. (Grandma was visiting, not the squirrel).

At any rate, the squirrel refused to come out.

This was good, at least for those of us who were watching. It made us laugh, and laughter is healthy.

Grandma would have told you she saw little humor in the incident.

The squirrel would have told you he was climbing up the wrong tree.

As it was, grandma stood in place, shaking violently. Then she danced on one leg, kicked it and screamed "OOOOOOOOh, OOOOOOOOOh," until the stunned squirrel finally fell out.

The experience was bad for Grandma, who found there is no such thing as a no-run stocking.

While assorted creatures occasionally are drawn to others in my family, they veritably flock to my mother.

Mom attracts all manner of living creatures. Without counting her late friend Helen - whom mom swore came back as a robin and pecked on her kitchen window in the dead of winter - the list is impressive.

Mom has at one point or another had as pets: Pale, very ugly, totally despicable spiders; large black ants; chipmunks; rabbits; moles; voles; very fat catfish, dogs and very fat cats.

She is currently feeding a skunk Cheerios.

To Mom's credit, she has not yet tried to bring the skunk into the house.

What about me, you ask? Well, I'm a lot like mom. I'm a sucker too.

Why, 10 days and $47 ago, this kitten came tearing down the alley and lodged itself under my car. I was getting ready to go to the store. Of course, I had to talk sweet to her to get her out.

And she sort of took to me. Actually, she became attached to my right ankle. I turned, and she turned. I stood still, and she sat still. She was awfully skinny, poor thing.

Her name is Lucky.

Sometimes Lucky is not good.

Sometimes Lucky is very bad.

OK, so I'm a bleeding heart ... .

At least she isn't a skunk.

Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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