(It’s time for Valentines — and skunks. They’re out these days. You smell them on the road. If you have lived in Madison County for any length of time, you probably have a skunk story. I certainly do — unfortunately. Here’s a rehash from 14 years ago, the day “love” visited our home.)

Our home has love at its foundation — quite literally — and we wish it would just go away.

No more love in this house, please. We’ve had enough.

Because this love is not for Valentines.

Forget chocolates, roses, hugs or kisses.

Think nausea, cussing at the wall, tearing your clothes off your back and throwing them in a stinky pile.

If you find a love like ours in your home, then you, too, will hear some polite answers to your apologies.

“Well, it’s not too bad.” “I thought I smelled a little something.” “Oh, was that you?”

No, the world does not love a skunk.

Or a man who smells like one.

I woke up two Sundays ago at 4:30 a.m. to the sound of thumping from beneath the house and that high-pitched little squealing.

Then that wave rolled in, the unmistakable blanket of funk from a skunk. My wife, Jana, and I looked at each other — her hand over her mouth and nose, my vocabulary reduced to oh, ugh, no, aagh.

If all you've ever done is smell a skunk on the side of the road, then you don't know what I'm talking about.

This is different, much different. Take a point-blank blast of that stuff to your home and, I swear, it's as much a taste as a smell. If man could emit such a blast, I doubt we'd have ever developed bombs. We'd stomp our feet, squeal a spray threat and everybody would back off.

My father-in-law grew up in the Madison County house where we live and he has dealt with many skunks and many skunk-mating seasons. He suspects the female under the house was not particularly pleased with the male's advances. So she blasted him.

And us.

Jana's dad has done many, many things for us over the years. And his latest gift to us has been skunk patrol.

He has trapped five under our house.

And as I write this Tuesday, we believe there are more still inside — at least one —  because my wife Jana heard squealing the other day from beneath the house, even though our home seems pretty well sealed up now. (The skunks actually chewed or clawed their way through a PVC pipe to get in.)

I took our little daughter to Macon to see my parents, while Jana worked all weekend against the skunks, doing laundry, cleaning the baby's room, and generally "deskunkifying" the home enough for us to move back in from her parents' house.

We were all set. Jana was finally relaxed back at home, resting. Then that sound came back — the squeal of skunk love (thankfully, minus the spray).

We didn't want to risk another point blank bullet of funk.

So we spent several more nights at her folks because of our skunk ordeal — the stink and the threat of more stink.

It's amazing how potent that spray is.

The evening after the initial skunking, I went to a Super Bowl party. When I arrived, the three dogs inside seemed pretty interested in me, the skunk-smelling man. I sat on the floor, not the sofa, afraid I would ruin the furniture. "Yeah, you do smell kind of like skunk," one friend said as we both grabbed some chips.

When Mick Jagger started in to "Start it up" during halftime, all I could hear was "If I skunk it up, if I skunk it up, I'll never stop."

Later in the week, I stopped by the house to find a quick bite to eat before a meeting. I didn't have time for a meal, so I ate a chocolate donut from a bag I had left in the refrigerator.

By the second bite, the taste was unmistakable — skunk!

The vapors had seeped through the refrigerator into my junk food. Amazing.

For Valentine's Day, I gave my wife some roses. I asked the florist to say the usual things, then I had her add: "The skunks won't win."

"Excuse me?" she asked.

"The skunks won't win," I repeated.

When the flowers were delivered, my wife smelled the roses and, of course, thought of skunks.

Yeah, love is in the air — and it sure stinks.

Zach Mitcham is editor of The Madison County Journal. He can be reached at zach@mainstreetnews.com.

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