I imagine parents dread receiving phone calls that begin with, “Mr./Mrs. So ‘n So, this is the principal/police/FBI (choose one…or all), and we have your son/daughter (insert name or names) in custody. Would you come to the school/the station/Quantico, please?” The phone calls I received shortly after the raccoons moved in always began with, “Do you know what your raccoons have done now?!” Or, “Your raccoons..!” As if I was solely responsible for the existence and behaviors of these three, masked juvenile delinquents of the “wild kingdom.”
These indignant calls always came from my 86 year old mother-in-law’s companion, Bryan. Seems the “kids” would just hike themselves up the stairs leading into their over-the-garage apartment and make themselves at home in the kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. The first time Bryan encountered them, he thought they were badgers! At 2a.m., he could be forgiven that little mistake, but I did point out to him that I didn’t think badgers ran in packs. And I wasn’t at all sure badgers had the where-with-all to open a closed pantry door to get to the cat kibble and cream of chicken soup. Nor did they sit in a sink full of supper dishes while fishing in the utensils drawer for a corkscrew or soup spoon. The garbage bag….well, I suppose badgers could have spread those contents around the apartment just as well as the ‘coon kids did. However, I am fairly certain badgers wouldn’t have shown the same dedication and dexterity in making sure the kleenex and other paper products from the bathroom were as diligently and finely shredded as the masked gremlins did. The three showed a special talent for raccoon origami, and they created their “artwork” at every chance they got, decorating whosever house they were in with little, itty-bitty bits of tissue stuck everywhere, clinging to the rugs, chairs and bedding. The rooms resembled the aftermath of a New York ticker tape parade, and took just about as long to clean up.
On several occasions, even though they weren’t physically in residence, it was obvious the clan had been visiting; both of my mom-in-law’s cats looked as if someone had plugged them into an electrical outlet, and their eyes were the size of hubcaps on a full size pickup. It was darn near impossible to get them to budge from their hidey holes, be they curtain rods, ceiling fan or dresser drawers, after the clandestine visits, and they remained in a zombie like state for quite some time, taking as long as a half an hour to move a single paw, all the while doing a slow scan of the room with wide, bulging eyes.
Bryan, being a sound sleeper, missed one late night invasion and was awakened from a midnight snooze in front of the television by my mom-in-law frantically calling his name as she cautiously backed away from the bedroom door. “Look! Look! On the b-b-b-bed!” Yep….there was one of my “masked kids,” sprawled amongst the pillows and flowered comforter, staring back at them, probably considering doing a little more origami with the soft blankets he was gently fondling. A broom thrust at him and some shouting sent him waddling (not quickly I was told!) out of the room and down the stairs, snuffling and grumbling. The whereabouts of the other two was never determined, but since the cats didn’t maintain their “high fluff” status for the remainder of the night, all involved decided the other siblings hadn’t made it to this particular slumber party. Following this latest visit, Bryan thought it would be best if the downstairs door, which was routinely left open to accommodate the cats’ nocturnal goings and comings, was shut……tightly.
We know what masked kids can do with those little opposable thumb hands. Which is why I always check to see if my car keys are hanging where they should be….I don’t know if they can drive a stick shift, but…… just in case, I’m not taking any unnecessary chances.