Being a good mother-in-law ain’t easy. I try. 

Even when my daughter’s husband presents me with a hand-made armadillo purse. 

Not a purse with a brand name “Armadillo.” Nope. It is a purse he, himself, made out of an actual armadillo – rather, a late armadillo.

This armadillo is sitting and facing forward, with its little claws folded across its belly, which is the main storage compartment. You have to lift up the armadillo’s pointy little nose to open it. It also has a tiny secret pouch, under its tail, where you can keep – I don’t know – breath mints?

I blame COVID. Remember during that first wave, when we was all staying home? I read romance novels. He learned taxidermy. 

This got nothing to do with taxicabs. He is stuffing animals. Road kill. He says it is free and besides, he is keeping the highways neat.

This don’t sit well with his wife, my daughter Gumdrop. They live way out in Folsom. When I was there last week, she was driving me to Main’s, their grocery store, and all of a sudden she stopped short and leapt out the car. There was a dead raccoon in the road. She grabbed it by the tail and hurled it into the woods. “If Slime found that, it would be in my freezer,” she snorts.

 At least he don’t kill the animals himself. Slime gave up on guns after he and my two brothers-in-law decided to eradicate a skunk by standing in a circle around a hole they thought the skunk was in, with their shotguns ready.

He wound up having two shotgun pellets removed in the hospital parking lot, because they wouldn’t let him inside, smelling like he did. The skunk is probably still telling that story to his skunk buddies, and they all laugh so hard they spray themselves. 

His first taxidermy project was a little squirrel, sitting up, holding an acorn. Unfortunately, the squirrel didn’t have no fur. Evidently Slime mixed the preserving chemicals wrong.

I tried to make Slime feel better by saying I think bald animals are cute. Big mistake. Slime takes things literally. He decides he will create a bald  taxidermy gift for my birthday. Which is how he come up with the armadillo birthday purse.

 I looked it up, and a genuine armadillo purse is worth a couple hundred dollars. Which means I got to carry this thing around on my arm, so family members, like my own mother-in-law Ms. Larda, can report back to Slime that I am appreciating it.

But I can tell it is a fashion mistake.

My gentleman friend Lust, who owns the Sloth Lounge, asks me please not to hang it on the purse hook under the bar while I am sipping my frozen Irish coffee, because some customers mistake it for a rat.

So I go home, set it down, and, would you believe, my little cat Invest arches his back and starts hissing at it. I actually got to stick it outside on the balcony and distract him with catnip.

A couple of hours later, when the cat is asleep, I sneak out to bring my purse in. I notice it’s hot from the sun. And it smells like plastic. Plastic? 

Something’s up.

I call Ms. Larda. (She and I started out bad, but we finally developed a truce, and eventually we got used to each other, like you get used to a funny smell.) 

She beats around the bush at first, but she can’t hold back. It seems she mentioned to Gumdrop that you can get leprosy from an armadillo. Gumdrop immediately freaked out and told Slime she better not find an armadillo in her freezer. Slime insisted he promised me an armadillo purse, so Gumdrop went online and found a plastic one for $24.95. 

And THAT’S what’s making my life miserable. A $24.95 plastic armadillo purse. Which I notice she ordered on half-off day.

So I can donate it to the thrift shop with a good heart. Maybe it will make some thrifty armadillo lover happy. 

If Slime asks, I can explain that it didn’t get along with the cat.

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