For the past few months, I have been locked in a protracted battle with the raccoons who live in our backyard over use of our pool. (If you missed the raccoon-related escapades, click here and here and here for a recap). After we saved a raccoon who was in a fight with a coyote on our front porch (reason #254 why Mika will not be allowed outside when she returns to Vancouver), tensions seemed to dissipate. The raccoons agreed to tolerate my presence in my own backyard (gee, thanks guys) while only occasionally conveying their displeasure by throwing random shit into the pool: goggles, sticks, bits of food, crutches, etc. They are especially fond of wedging a large exercise ball between the handrails that lead down to the pool's deep end, for whatever reason.
Well, over the weekend, the raccoons delivered a message. My sister, who was looking after the cats while I was in Illinois and my parents were in San Francisco, came home to find a rubber chicken in our backyard. It wasn't her rubber chicken. It wasn't mine or anyone in my family's. I don't even know where one would buy a rubber chicken. It is therefore logical to assume that either some evil clown broke into our house and left the rubber chicken as a calling card (shudder!) or the raccoons left it.
Unfortunately, I am not fluent in raccoon symbology, so I'm not sure if receiving a rubber chicken from raccoons is a gift or a warning. Are the raccoons trying to say, "Dear Arley. We found this rubber chicken in the trash and were reminded of your shockingly white legs and scrawny anti-ass paddling around the pool as you try desperately to not walk like some bizarre pre-hominid form. Keep up the good work!" or are they saying, "Bitch, keep your shockingly white legs and scrawny anti-ass out of our food-washing pool or you will be dead meat, rather like this rubber chicken." Perhaps they've been watching old Charlie Chaplin movies and thought I would get a chuckle out of it; (if they start littering the ground with banana peels for me to slip on or hitting me in the face with pies, I'm going to get a little nervous). I'm not sure, but whenever I'm swimming and the bushes near the pool begin to shake ominously, I have the distinct feeling I'm being watched by a few pairs of beady little eyes.
Turns out, I have good reason to be wary. A., (who is still traumatized from a raccoon encounter in his youth), emailed me this news article. Some poor 74-year-old woman in Florida was minding her own business in her yard, living the post-retirement high life, when she was jumped by a gang of hoodrat raccoons after she tried to shoo them away! If you try to interfere with their business, they will rearrange your face! Said the sheriff who is now in charge of catching the raccoons, "We're not talking about a lot of little bites here....She was filleted." Filleted! And, chances are, if she was hanging out in her backyard, she was probably fully clothed, which means she has one up on me, who still swims in my undies and sports bra, since the feeling of a bathing suit pressing against my hip is still uncomfortable. (Too much information? Sorry). If the raccoons decide to get out their little raccoon whips, chains and baseball bats, get strung out on a little raccoon meth and settle this battle once and for all, there's not much standing between me and their razor-sharp claws.
Well, those raccoons can bring it on. (Why is it that I end so many of my posts urging various parties--raccoons, doctors, the elderly, the karmic powers of the universe--to "bring it on?") A few months of watching 95-year-old men walk circles around me in physio has built up a well-stoked furnace of rage within me and, while I may not have claws, I can swing my cane like I mean it. I'm armed, I'm dangerous (...kind of...) and I have ninja moves you've never even heard of (...probably you haven't heard of them because they don't exist). You've been warned, raccoons. You've been warned.