I’ve been in a bit of a “I hate everyone and everything” funk of late. This mindset, combined with my new addiction — Candy Crush Saga (damn you Level 91!!!!) — has kept me away from reading (my apologies) and posting for a bit. Also, I’ve been purging the hovel. To be honest I haven’t done much in the way of any actual purging, but I’ve been strategically planning for the purge. (Every good general knows that you don’t go into battle without a plan — and make no mistake about it, ridding myself of twenty years’ worth of junk is akin to a battle!)
Fang and I finally decided on a couch, which is somewhat of a minor miracle given the fact that the last time we bought a couch it took two years for us to come to something resembling an agreement (we didn’t really — he broke me down and I got stuck with the ugly ass thing that currently resides in my living room). Once again I have compromised, but at least this time I’m happier with the compromise. (No leather. No microfiber.) It’s not the gorgeous velvet settee that I had my eye on. Alas, I had to grudgingly admit that while the settee is both beautiful and charming, it’s doesn’t meet our needs.
What does meet our needs? The Ikea Ektorp loveseat with attached chaise. (Pictured above.) In white. That’s right. I’ve decided to become the sort of person who throws caution to the wind (and slipcovers in the wash on a fairly regular basis) and purchase a white couch. It’s the right size. It’s the right price ($499!). Most importantly, we can get it up the stairs without the help of five burly men. It comes in boxes. Boxes! You put it together right where it’s going to live. Conversely, it can be taken apart when either it or this apartment has outlasted it’s usefulness. You’ve gotta love that!
The sticky wicket in all of this “getting my shit together”, throwing stuff away, and trying to live, as Fang likes to say, “like ‘normal’ people” is removing the old couch. (Do you know any normal people? If so, how do they live? I’d really like to know. Fang’s pretty big on being “normal”. Me? Not so much.) What I’d really like to do is to take a chain saw to the goddamn thing, throw it out the window in pieces and be done with it. Apparently that’s not how, according to Fang, “normal” people dispose of unwanted furniture. (Again with the “normal”!) To which I say, “What the fuck is the difference how we get it out of the house? As long as it’s gone, who cares?”
I went so far as to suggest a ceremonial burning. This idea appealed to me until Fangette intelligently pointed out that setting leather and microfiber afire (“who knows what that shit’s made out of?”) might not simply present a health hazard. She seems to think that doing so might also, in fact, be against the law. Normally I’m all for being a law-abiding citizen, but I was willing to make an exception in this case. (Because sometimes you just have to decide to do something just for the fun of it! Nothing says “Fun” quite so much as a fire in the driveway!) In the end, it wasn’t the illegality of the thing that caused me to abandon the idea. I mean, sure, if it is indeed illegal, what’s the worst that could happen? I don’t imagine I’d be thrown in jail. If I did I’d have to make up a better crime than “couch burning” for when my fellow inmates asked me the inevitable “What are you in for?” question. I suppose I could say that I did it as a form of protest. Protesting shoddy workmanship and lack of style might garner more respect from the prison population than the old “it seemed like a good idea at the time” explanation. Of course, the more likely scenario is that I would get slapped with a fine. Ultimately, it wasn’t out of concern for the health and welfare of my neighbors or even the possibility of a fine that deterred me from engaging in a bit of pyromaniacal anarchy. It was the idea that we could find ourselves in the “police blotter” section of the local paper. We live in a small town. Not much happens here. Lots of people have scanners. I know some of these people. They listen to them all day. People who purchase police scanners purely for their entertainment value are nosy Parkers. I daresay a leather and microfiber bonfire on the property of the former PTO President and Board of Education member would be pretty big news.
And I know what’s newsworthy in this town. Because we made it into the “police blotter” section and onto the police scanner several years ago. It’s not something I would care to repeat. We found ourselves at the mercy of what seemed to be a rabid raccoon who had taken up residence atop the grape arbor that was installed above our back door. Not only was this thing wobbly and hissy, it had also managed to gather quite a few large tomatoes from my carefully tended garden. (They were not yet fully ripe, but just try dispensing culinary advice to a rabid raccoon!) When we arrived on the scene, fresh from our trip to the grocery store, there were a large number of neighborhood children running hither and yon on our driveway. It seems our raccoon friend had amassed quite the stack of half-eaten tomatoes and was proceeding to use them as projectiles. He was launching them, in a missile-like fashion, at anyone who dared to breach whatever perimeter he had deemed “safe”.
Not one to let ice cream melt or milk sour on the driveway, I decided to forge ahead. I underestimated the raccoon’s aim. And his agility. And, possibly, his love of tomatoes. As I approached the end of the drive and the beginning of the grape arbor, this creature skittered along the wood and vines and, tomato in hand, proceeded to hang off the top, spit in my face, and plunk a tomato directly onto my head. I found myself eye-to-eye with an armed nocturnal animal in the middle of the day who had, it would seem, decided that our grape arbor was his home and he was going to defend it at all costs.
I would like to tell you that like a mama bear protecting her cubs I hissed right back at him. I would like to tell you that I took a stand. I did not. Sensing that there might be real danger with a run-in involving a clearly deranged woodland creature, I ran. In the opposite direction. I did so screaming like a girl while flinging the bag containing the milk and the ice cream directly into the garden where once there had been a plethora of nearly-ripe tomatoes and where now stood nothing but mangled vines.
I’ll bet you didn’t know that raccoons, much like their human counterparts, enjoy dessert. Well, as it turns out, they do. Following a large feast, raccoons too get a hankering for a nice, sugary dessert and a couple of gulps of milk. Yup. Spying the ice cream, which was at this point hanging out of the grocery bag in the middle of what used to be my garden, he scurried down the arbor, grabbed the container and opened it with his claws (which was pretty impressive, I have to say). He then stuck his face in it. (Raccoons, not unlike the majority of my customers, aren’t all that concerned with table manners!) After he had polished off a good bit of the ice cream, he spied the jug of milk. In yet another show of speed and agility, he grabbed the milk by the handle (!) and scampered back up the grape arbor. With refreshment in hand he, once again, took up residence aside his stockpile of ammunition and pried the top of the milk jug open with his teeth. And then he drank it. Like any teenager on a midnight raid of the fridge, he didn’t bother with a glass. The kids, Fangette included, thought this was hysterical. I, on the other hand, couldn’t help but think that the presence of a rabid raccoon hopped up on sugar, guarding my back door, was not going to come to a good end.
I toyed with the idea of making a path to the bushes with some crumbled up chopped meat, but my husband, whose cheapness nearly always outweighs the safety of his family (he wasn’t the one who rushed the back door, just in case you didn’t notice), admonished me by screaming, “No! He already drank the milk, ate the ice cream, and decimated the tomatoes!” (I’m giving Fang a much better vocabulary than he actually has. I’m fairly certain he did not say “decimated”. I’m actually pretty sure that, even at gunpoint, he wouldn’t be able to define the word “decimated”. To be fair, he could probably work it out in context. He is cute, though. And he’s nice. He’s been a good husband and a great father. Life is full of trade-offs.)
Instead of fishing out the ground beef from the grocery bags, I found myself engaged in a “what normal people would do” argument with Fang. I wanted to try luring Mr. Raccoon with some raw meat, he wanted me to call the police. Far be it for me to stand in the way of our being “normal”. I called the police. They advised me to call Animal Control. They even, very helpfully, gave me the number. The problem with Animal Control is that they only control animals during business hours. Business hours, as you all know, are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. So, if you are lucky enough to notice that you have a rabid raccoon in your yard on, say, a Wednesday at 10 a.m., the folks at Animal Control will probably be of some help to you. The Fanganini’s have no such luck. The “raccoon incident” (as we have come to refer to it) occurred on a Saturday afternoon.
So. There we were. Engaging in a battle of wits with a raccoon. And the raccoon was winning. Of course.
Again, I wanted to lure the critter with some meat, but my husband convinced me that “normal” people would just leave this sort of thing to the professionals and convinced me to give the police a call back. I explained the problem with Animal Control and added, for emphasis, that I was unwilling to live in the car until Animal Control arrived at HQ on Monday morning at 9 a.m. The dispatcher seemed reluctant to send an officer out on a raccoon errand. So, I told him that, on second thought, we could probably just remain in the car as we had just returned from the grocery store. So, we had enough food. I asked him to send someone with a can opener, plastic cutlery, and some paper cups and plates. I advised him that if we got those things, we could hunker down until either Animal Control was available or the raccoon skedaddled, whichever came first. He sent an officer. We’ll call him “Mike”. (Mainly because that’s his name.)
Mike didn’t have paper goods or a can opener when he arrived on the scene. What he did have was a theory. Oh, and a gun.
He put forth the theory that we had a pregnant raccoon on our hands, not, as I had suspected, a rabid raccoon. I had known Mike, at this point, for several years. As I said, this is a small town. Everybody knows everybody. Mike is a sweetheart. And he will strike you as such upon meeting him. He’s the nice officer that stops you for having a taillight out and let’s you go with a warning even though you’ve got an overdue inspection sticker. Mike’s a gem, but he wouldn’t strike you as the sharpest tack in the box, nor, upon meeting him, would you think, “Now, there’s a guy who’s probably well-schooled in animal husbandry!” Mike, however, was married to his pregnant raccoon theory. (I think it was more about the amount of paperwork that might be required if, in fact, the raccoon turned out to be rabid. Who needs all that pesky paperwork at the end of a long shift?) While my own knowledge of animal behavior is limited at best, I was fairly certain that no normally nocturnal creature would be reeling and hissing on top of my grape arbor in the middle of the day because it was hungry. Or pregnant. I’m not sure why, exactly, Mike decided the coon was pregnant. We never got to that.
Because the next thing I knew, Mike was unholstering his gun. On my driveway. On a Saturday afternoon. In front of what can best be described as a growing number of onlookers, most of whom were children. Young children. Including my own young child. Before I could stop him, I heard the gun go off. In my driveway. On a Saturday afternoon. In front of young children. I nearly had a heart attack. Fang and I were, simply put, astonished. The raccoon, however, was unfazed. Before I could properly flip out on Mike for shooting at (and, thank God, for missing) the foolish raccoon, he looked at me and said, “Blanks”. Just like that. “Blanks.” Okay. But only he knew that. And the kids? They had no idea what blanks were. Plus, they were all screaming and running for their lives.
After coaxing the children out of the various hiding spots they had retreated to following the onslaught of gunfire, I reassured them that the gun was only for making noise, not for killing anything (or anybody). Holy shit.
I think it was at this point that Mike suggested that I clear the children from the yard so that he could actually shoot the raccoon (while he wouldn’t admit to it, I think he was beginning to buy into my rabid raccoon theory). My response was something like, “Are you crazy? No matter where I put the children, for their own safety, how would I explain the presence of a bloody, lifeless raccoon on the patio? I think they’d put two and two together.” A brief and civilized discussion ensued regarding alternative methods of raccoon removal. He didn’t have access to nor did he know how to operate a tranquilizer gun. So, that was out. He was too far away for a Taser to be of any use. To his credit, he actually tested the Taser theory, but was scared off by the raccoon’s display of hissing and spitting. Mike scored points for trying there. Other approaches were considered. (I liked the idea of using the garden hose, but was voted down.) One of the older children helpfully suggested tear gas. (Alas! Mike was without his riot gear.)
I felt it was the right time to revisit the chopped meat solution. And so it began. Three grown adults balling up wads of hamburger meat and throwing them at a stupid raccoon who, by the way, had excellent eye-hand coordination. He didn’t miss a morsel, God bless him. Once he showed an interest in the tasty raw meat treats, we began to line up the crudely fashioned meatballs in a path that led to the bushes. He went for it. Without the shedding of any raccoon blood, we managed to extricate our furry friend from the grape arbor. I cleaned up the garden, sent my husband back to the grocery store, and thanked God that I was not “normal” people. The so-called “normal” person, the professional that my husband insisted we involve, wanted to employ the use of firearms to solve the raccoon problem. Thanks anyway, but if that’s normal, I’ll stick to being abnormal!