• Johnny Carrol Sain

Possum peckers

Updated: Mar 28, 2019

In truth, “opossums" are what we have here in North America, and “possums” are what they have in Australia and neighboring lands. But I dig alliteration and colloquialisms so we're going with "possum."

You probably didn't know that male possums have bifurcated or forked, if you prefer, genitalia. It's a marsupial thing and a little-known fact unless you've seen it in person, and I have, or studied mammalian reproductive biology, and I have. But I'm a rarity, a privileged (or cursed, depending on how you look at it) dude to have a foot in two camps, straddling the line between hillbilly and academic naturalist.

By and large, most folks who have seen a possum’s pecker don’t know much about possum biology, and they likely haven’t witnessed possums doing the deed. This is how the backwoods lore about possums breeding through the nostrils came about. Yes. This is a real thing. People really thought this. Some still do.

I know it sounds ridiculous to anyone with any grasp of biology, but again, those folks most likely to have seen possum peckers often didn’t have any grasp of biology beyond rendering an animal’s carcass into meat and fur into a pelt. When confronted with a phallus so unlike any other phallus they’d ever seen, there just had to be a simple mechanical explanation. There, in fact, is a simple mechanical explanation, but arriving at said explanation requires a slightly deeper understanding of possum physiology. Without a deeper understanding -- or the desire for a deeper understanding -- folks tend to look for answers only on the surface. A two-dimensional world is all they know.

So to these folks, the male possum’s twin pistons obviously require twin cylinders on the female possum. And where are the obvious twin cylinders on a female possum? I’ve heard with my own ears people state this possum-nose-breeding bullshit as matter-of-fact knowledge, and just a few years ago. You could’ve shown them text from a mammalogy textbook, photos, looked between a female possum’s legs, and even shown them graphic video of possum-on-possum action and it wouldn’t matter. They were convinced -- without any understanding of even the basic concepts involved -- that they were right, that mere hearsay passed down from Pappy or some other unqualified authority figure could not be questioned. Or maybe they were just too proud to admit they might be wrong.

And they would always, without exception, argue that this was the simplest explanation and, therefore, correct. It was their only logic: "It's plain as day. If a boy possum has a split weenie, where else would they put it? Just common sense. You've got too much of that book learnin' to see what's right in front of your face.”

That very sentiment has been the exclamation point on many a fruitless conversation about various topics.


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