Bizarre things always seem to occur when Maury is out of town. Water heaters blow, large appliances break down, the electricity goes out for hours, etc.

One night, while I had three toddlers under age five in the house, I smelled something burning in the middle of the night. I didn’t know what else to do, so I called the fire department. Four burly firemen roamed around my kitchen at 3 a.m. looking for the source of the noxious fumes as I stood there in my nightie with all three kids clinging to me. Finally, it was determined that my water cooler had been short circuiting. They unplugged it and put it outside. Maury, by the way, was in Chicago at a trade show.

On Monday morning, Maury left for San Francisco to attend another big trade show. There’s a lot of schmoozing and dinners and early breakfast meetings that go on, so it just makes sense for him to stay in the city. By Monday night, the bizarre events began occurring.

Dinner preparation is my usual focus at 7 p.m. and I was trying to figure out what to make when my 20-year-old son, Ryan, and his friends came rushing in. They had been down at the park playing “Spikeball” — a new, all-the-rage game involving a ball and a trampoline.

“What’s wrong?” I asked, sensing the group’s urgency.

“My friend cut his hand pretty bad hopping the fence.” Ryan said. “Can you look at it?”

The poor boy came over to me clutching his hand and I ushered him into the bathroom. Ryan’s girlfriend said she thought he might need stitches. I braced myself for the reveal.

He opened his hand over the bathroom sink. Yikes! It was a pretty deep gash between his thumb and index finger. Blood was dripping into the sink. I grabbed some Neosporin and a large Band-Aid. He was obviously shocked and in a lot of pain. I knew that, at the very least, he needed a tetanus shot. After all, he cut his hand on a dirty, rusty fence — the classic tetanus scenario!

We needed a professional opinion and my neighbor up the street is a nurse. I gave her a call and she was happy to come over and take a look at it. Our diagnosis was confirmed. He definitely needed stitches and a tetanus shot (I owe her cookies).

Ryan and his friends drove him home where his dad was waiting to take him to the ER, where he later received 6 stitches! Ryan and his friends returned and a few more friends showed up. The focus now shifted to where to go eat. They agreed on a restaurant in Concord.

Meanwhile, Haley was waiting for a girlfriend to arrive for an overnighter ... of which, naturally, I had no knowledge. That’s how teens operate. They make all kinds of plans but rarely clue you in on it until it’s already happening. Ryan’s girlfriend suggested Haley and her friend join them for dinner. It was already 9:30 p.m. I wasn’t sure how comfortable I was with the idea, but Haley looked so excited to be invited by the older kids.

A car pulled up in front of the house. I opened the front door. Haley’s friend hopped out of the car, and that’s when I spotted a large skunk scurrying around my front lawn!

“Hurry!” I motioned to her frantically. I waved at her mom and pointed at Pepé Le Pew, who was looking right at us. She drove off and we ran into the house. I warned everyone about the skunk. Thankfully, they were all able to load up in our big Tahoe without incident.

The kids drove away and — as is my normal ritual now — I prayed. I do way more praying now that the kids are older than I ever did when they were young. I also drink a lot more beer, which, incidentally, is what I did when I went back in the house. No need to make dinner anymore, so I poured myself a bowl of pistachios. And then I heard my cats hissing outside on the patio.

My dog, Chance, raced over to the screen door. I rushed over and flipped on the big flood light. A large raccoon was sitting on my glass patio table, helping himself to a bowl of cat food! Also, the skunk from my front yard was now hopping around my backyard before nestling into some bushes. My dog was going insane! He wanted out, but I slammed the glass door. What the heck was going on?! And if you thought it stopped there, it didn’t stop there.

A flash of white up on the fence caught my eye. A possum was scurrying along the top of it before disappearing. I thought there might be an impending earthquake with all the animal activity. One thing I knew for sure was that I had to remove the bowl of cat food from the patio table, ideally without getting skunked, or mauled by the raccoon. I clapped my hands loudly. The raccoon awkwardly fell off the table and lumbered off. I grabbed the bowl and darted back inside. Mission accomplished!

At midnight, the kids returned. Thank you, God! We decided to watch an episode of our favorite show, “Stranger Things.” How appropriate. We watched two episodes, finishing around 2 a.m. Haley and her friend headed upstairs, after which I heard Haley scream, “Mom! There’s a cockroach on my bed!”

I couldn’t believe my ears. We have never, EVER had a cockroach in the house. And just what you want to see when you have an overnight guest, right? I entered Haley’s room and, yep, there it was. Gross! A big cockroach was sitting there on her white comforter, waving its feelers around.

“Don’t squash it on my bed!” she yelled.

I grabbed a glass vase and a Marvin Gaye album cover. I trapped the roach and carefully slid Marvin Gaye beneath it. I made my way downstairs, out of the house and discarded the insect into the gutter.

The good news? By 3 a.m. this strange night was finally over. The bad news? Maury won’t be home for two more nights. We may be in for even Stranger Things …

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