Johnny’s World: ‘I Brake for Opossums’

November 7, 2013 8:18 AM9 comments

jworldThere I am, having happily finished a hard day’s work. I hop into my car for the 20-minute jaunt home, to start my night shift as husband, father, housewife, cleaning lady, chef, maid, and maniacal OCD slave. I turn on my favorite comedy special by one of my three favorite comediennes (Margaret Cho, Kathy Griffin, and Amy Schumer) to zone out and laugh for my 20 minutes of driving peace.

Everything is going well, as it does on most days. I’m giggling, sipping Starbucks, and being basically fascinated that – no matter how much I’d sweat that day – I miraculously smell alright.

Just as one of the ladies cracks a crude joke about Asian racism or STDs, it happens.

I catch something out of the corner of my sunglasses. At first it’s just a random image of something on the road – it’s New Jersey, after all, and we aren’t unaccustomed to trash bags, shoes, or shopping carts just happening across the street. Once my sunglasses focus for a second on this waddling blob, I notice that its gait isn’t similar to a tumbling trash bag or the melodic wheeling of a shopping cart.

It’s alive. It’s an opossum.

No doubt the little guy was woken from his slumber by a loud car (or possibly the shopping carts that run amuck). Nonetheless, it was daytime and he should have been asleep, not wandering across a crowded thoroughfare.

I slam my brakes. My purse goes flying towards the windshield, my sunglasses now cover my nostrils instead of my eyes, and the adorable look of bewilderment from the heinous little creature warms my heart. I jump out of my car and herd assorted Camrys, C-Classes, and A4s around the misshapen ball of grey fur slowly making his way across the street. In 10 minutes, I return to my comedy, to my car’s moody interior, and I brush the air pollution and road debris off of my new mink coat.

My history with animal rights groups and anti-fur soap boxers has been a highly publicized one. Before the Olympic Games in 2010, I was sent death threats by one of those groups and even had a price on my head for wearing a tiny puff of fur on one of my costumes. The harassment and fear got so bad that I was assisted by the FBI and was watched by more security than almost any other person attending the Games.

I have rarely been given the chance to talk about this very controversial topic because, for the most part, people have wanted to like me and being pro fur isn’t something people like. Any interview I have given was ultimately edited or shortened to the bare minimum, “I choose my choice.”

I have appreciated fur and hunting since I was very young. It was a hobby enjoyed by many in rural Pennsylvania. I also put a lot of stock in one day owning a beautiful coat; it wasn’t diamonds, mansions, or fancy cars that meant “success” to me, it was a fluffy coat. The first present I remember receiving from one of my uncles was a rabbit pelt. Although these reasons may not make sense to anyone but me, I appreciate the amount of jobs the fur industry creates, I appreciate the history of the trade, and ultimately I choose to support the artisans and craftsmen who create warmth for the world.

On the flipside, I have an adorable puppy and I have nightmares constantly in which terrible things happen to him. I cried hysterically at simply seeing the trailer for “Blackfish.” I have seen and been horrified by the anti-fur propaganda videos, which have been sent to me since I was 21, that focus on inhumane practices of collection used in terrible fur farms worldwide. I believe in conserving our world’s creatures 100 percent.

And I brake for opossums.

I am, in all certainty, a hypocrite. I don’t know if my choice to wear fur is something that was geographically bred in me, if it was something superimposed on me by fashion or film, or if I just like luxurious stuff. I can tell you that my choice does not come from ignorance or stupidity. I challenge anyone at these animal rights groups to know more than I do about the industry and the livelihoods involved in it, not to mention the great loss of animals.

This column is a bit disjointed with a strange point and message because this incident with the opossum really threw me into a whirlwind of crazy. It also comes on a day when a coat of mine was assaulted with red paint outside a shop that I frequent.

Life is a constant string of questioning ourselves. While we can’t be pressured into groupthink, we can all try to make the right decisions for our own sanity and happiness while considering that you can’t win ‘em all. The choice between good and evil is never as black and white as it should be.

  • mimi dzyacky

    And this is why I will always ALWAYS LOVE you Johnny! Just for being you! Being honest! Saying it like it is! Thank you for changing my life! For that I owe you everything!

  • AB

    I must admit I have never agreed with your decision to wear fur, knowing you know how furs are produced. On the other hand, I have family members who wear fur, so I’ve concluded that it’s their choice. My mother always wanted a mink, and who would I have been to stop her as I ate my tuna that probably died as a dolphin got in the way of things and also lost its life? I eat meat, wear leather, wear clothes no doubt made by sweat shop toddlers, and yesterday I set a trap to kill Asian beetles that have infiltrated my screen porch. So you’re right, Johnny. We’re all guilty in some way or another. And death threats in the name of life is insanity.

    • Dana Harold

      Very well said.

  • Dave

    As someone with 10 plus years in Law Enforcement; I feel justified in saying
    you are an idiot. Should you purposefully swerve to hit an animal? No, of course
    not, but you shouldn’t just slam on your breaks and almost cause an accident.
    The fact that there were items flying about the interior of your vehicle is further proof you don’t know the first thing about safe driving. I suggest you enroll in a defensive driving class for a refresher on safe driving practices. I don’t condone hurting or killing animals without necessity, but what if your act of “kindness” had led to the serious injury of another person? Is the life of an opossum equal to the life of a human? NO, they are not. If you answered yes to that question it is time to do some serious reflecting on the meaning of life.

  • JaneS

    Those petty vandals! Why aren’t they at work or school? They’re just worthless parasites.
    “I Brake for Opossums” is a great headline.

  • Lady Lisa

    Johnny, I am proud of you for talking about this in your column, this shows courage on your part, because it’s such a controversial topic for you – and so many others. You obviously know a lot out the fur industry, and your choice doesn’t seem to be an uninformed one. It’s easy to point fingers and ‘throw people under the bus’ and no matter what it is in life, you can’t please everybody. Keep warm Johnny, and drive safe.

  • Lady Lisa

    p.s. would love to know how the orange Birkin in doing, could they do anything for it? hope that they could!

  • Lady Lisa

    An orange Birkin update please!

  • gabi

    I have been accused of being a hypocrite for supporting you, given my anti-fur stance and 25-year vegetarianism. To those critical of Johnny Weir, I’ve said: “Although mature, in some areas he is younger than his chronological age in others. He *thinks* he knows all about the fur industry but he does not. (You can’t tell me that Johnny’s watched a pup like Tema being skinned alive from the first ankle incision to the last yank of his face skin. No.) One cannot have spent more than 1/2 of his lifetime on a huge icecube and not suffered some type of shortcoming to personality/values/etc. The baby needs time…” And, see? ;-) ♥

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