FUNNY WOMEN #12: Destroying Angels, A How-To Guide


77%* of Americans say they believe in angels.

That doesn’t mean we like them.

Sure, they were cute–at first. Maybe you thought you’d never get tired of those sweet rosy faces and chubby behinds. But now… feathers clog the air conditioner. Droppings stain the dining room rug. You’re tired of untangling angels from the chandelier, prying them out of the swimming pool filter, shooing them away from the liquor cabinet. The charm of all those little nude bottoms is wearing a bit thin. You find yourself thinking, Would it kill them to put on some pants?


Like cockroaches, angels are small, fast-moving, adept at flight, and almost certain to get into the graham crackers if you leave the box open. Unfortunately, angels are harder to kill than roaches, and the pesticides that work best on them are generally unavailable to the public (DDT, for example, drops them like hammered ducks). Large-scale spraying is unpopular, in part because angels tend to expire, noisily, in the most picturesque locations available, like nurseries and rose gardens. A 1993 municipal angel fumigation in Tampa Florida provoked outrage when several housecats became ill from eating downed angels. Since then, angel control has been largely left to the private sector.

So here’s how to do it. Angel eradication isn’t for the faint of heart.


Angel infestations often begin inadvertently, because many seemingly harmless substances attract the varmints. Remember the bow-and-arrow set your son got for his birthday? The Celine Dion CD that fell behind the stereo? The lute in the hall closet? All of them could be drawing angels into your home. Begin by checking for potpourri, stained glass, sachets, Anne Geddes calendars, doilies, antimacassars, harps, pan pipes, wreaths, garlands, and scented candles.

Remove these items, and then create an environment actively hostile to angels through the liberal use of repellents, including horseradish, stale cigar smoke, mothballs, rye whiskey, cabbage, military memorabilia, beef jerky, Rottweilers, Quentin Tarantino films, cacti, poker chips, and Warren Zevon CDs.

You can also try the following deterrents:

  • Bug zappers. Effective, but you’ll have to listen to a lot of shrieking. Also, some people find the odor of burnt feathers unpleasant.
  • Fox urine powder. This strong-smelling substance keeps away angels, voles, mice, rats, weasels, and most neighbors.
  • Audio repellents. Available from specialty vendors, these cassettes feature sounds naturally threatening to angels, such as a repeating loop of Celtic songstress Enya being attacked by a red-tailed hawk (the biggest drawback to this method is that you have to listen to it).

Any angels remaining after you’ve implemented the above steps will have to be cleared out by more direct means.


Remember: “Cupid” rhymes with “stupid.” Angels are inquisitive and dim-witted, and will take any of the following baits: angel food cake, ambrosia, Frangelica, macaroons, divinity, cooking sherry, marshmallows, passion fruit, rose water, candied violets, marzipan, vanilla wafers, or maraschino cherries.

  • Deadfall. This classic trap for crushing small animals works equally well on angels. The primary drawback is the extent of cleanup required.
  • Pitfall. Limited to outdoor use, and only effective if angels’ wings have been previously disabled. Alcohol and various stunning substances are used for this purpose. Cleanup can be a bit messy, but you always have the option of simply filling in the hole.
  • Water Trap. Like the pitfall, the water trap works best in conjunction with a wing-binding or stunning agent. It can be deployed indoors, if the gurgling noises don’t bother you too much. Tip: angels can be drowned in containers as small as a five-gallon bucket (the kind commercial-grade pickle slices are shipped in).
  • Flashlight and 2×4 (a.k.a. “jacking”). The occasional stray angel can be picked off by this tried-and-true, if brutal, method. Only works at night.
  • Stun Guns, Tasers, and Electrical Traps. A wide variety of these devices are available for purchase online and more can be improvised by the resourceful. Be aware that angels have an unsettling tendency to explode when exposed to high voltages; eye protection is advisable.
  • Humane Traps. Those sized for raccoons are ideal. The difficulty with humane traps is relocating your trapped angels. One potential solution is to release them near the meeting places of bankers, Scientologists, or some other group that richly deserves it.


Don’t handle any angel–even a stunned one–without the appropriate gear and tackle. This means, at a minimum, leather gauntlets, helmet, and punjee stick. You will also need a choke pole and a heavy canvas bag to stuff the beasts in. A tranquilizer gun is nice too, if you happen to be on friendly terms with your local zoo.

Some experts recommend practicing on chickens before handling angels, though the two species have little in common. For one thing, chickens have no teeth. They also smell better and crap less than angels. But if you have some chickens handy, go for it. What the hell.


One final piece of advice: if you try to get angels to do something they don’t want to do, such as vacate your house, you will probably be attacked at some point. Actually, there’s a good chance they’ll attack you even if you leave them alone.

Though frightening, noisy, painful, and often astonishingly bloody, angel attacks are rarely fatal. Angels’ teeth are sharp, but not deeply-set (due to the preponderance of soft foods in their diet). If an angel bites your arm or leg, you can usually dislodge it by vigorous shaking. However, this will leave numerous tiny, razor-edged teeth embedded in your flesh. These must be removed by a doctor, who will likely recommend a tetanus shot. If the doctor asks a lot of questions, tell him you import monkeys for medical research.

*Statistic not factual, but not too far off either.


Original art by Ilyse Magy.


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Susan Schorn is a martial artist and self-defense instructor who writes the column "Bitchslap" for McSweeney's Internet Tendency. Her first book, Smile at Strangers, and Other Lessons in the Art of Living Fearlessly, will be available May 28th from Houghton Mifflin. She can quote verbatim dialogue from most of the 52 original "yellow-spine" Nancy Drew mysteries, and would be interested in learning about any groundbreaking medications that might relieve her of this ability. She lives in Austin, Texas, which helps. She's on Twitter: @SusanSchorn. More from this author →