Urban Raccoons

racoon

Twice in the past week I have ascended from the parking garage to be greeted by the curious face of a small raccoon in the interior garden of my condo building. The first night it happened, I practically squealed with excitement and fumbled in my purse, spilling water from my water bottle on myself as I dove  to retrieve my cell phone.

Honestly, you would think we were Pavlovian dogs the way we all have to record the interesting things we encounter in our daily lives and regurgitate the images onto our facebook feeds for our friends to witness. What ever happened to picking up the phone and calling a friend and saying, “Hey, Jim, you know, I saw the most beautiful sunset on the way home tonight, with a sherbet colored cloud nestling around the flaming orb as it dipped down to the horizon! Gee, I wish you could have seen it. I felt positively serene looking at it and I thought how much I would love to share it with you.” No, now we have to snapchat it or tweet it or Instagram it. Silly.

So anyway, I recovered my phone and the raccoon still stood there looking at me in disbelief, and I got the video going and took it, only to realize afterwards that the conditions were too dark to capture him except for his little glistening eyes. And the clip is so short that if I watch it, it looks like a meme of a demented cat.

Speaking of demented cats, I was taking the garbage down the hall last night to the chute, and when I returned to the apartment, I noticed that our neighbor-at-the-far-end-of-the-hall’s cat was out. This cat is big, and black, with a white tuxedo chest, and two white booties in the front. He frequently sits out in the hall just near their door, but last night, he was about halfway down the hall, and something about his proximity made me want to try to see if he would come any closer. So I bent over and started clucking, and rubbing my fingers along the carpet to make a scratching sound that used to work like a charm to call our cats.
Sure enough, the cat looked intrigued, and slowly started down the hall toward me, his tail moving in sinuous rhythm above his head, his eyes fixed on mine. Now he was only about 10 feet away, and I dropped into a crouch so as to appear less threatening.
I don’t really know what my goal was, but I guess because we have been petless for a few years, I thought it would be fun to scratch his little head, and have him look up at me adoringly like our cats used to do. Then I would return home and report to Jimmie that I had made a little friend out in the hall and we would go and visit him and so have a grandcat experience- you know, the kind of visit grandparents have with their grandchildren- sweet and doting and short- then the kids leave. With a cat, this would be even more ideal- a little purr, no kitty litter to change- you get the picture.
So here comes the cat, and he is now about five feet away, and I lean my right hand out into the chasm between us and smile, meanwhile, scratching my left hand on the floor. He stops, and, this should have been the first sign that my kitty fantasy was to be short lived, his chin went down, his hackles went up, and he bared his little teeth in an open sneer sort of like the leaf blower dog video that I saw yesterday on FB. You know the one?

Anyway, I clucked and said, “come on, kitty, let’s be friends”. Yes, I actually said that, out loud, in the hallway, as I crouched next to the hallway wall.  And I kept my hand outstretched toward the cat. He lowered his body, and came closer to me, until his nose was just about three inches from my outstretched knuckle.  How cute he was! His eyes looked steadily and mesmerizingly up into mine. I opened my hand and pushed it out into the air just a bit more to try to touch his head, when he made that sound, gutteral and breathy, and swatted his paw out into the space between us, clawing my hand.

Little kitty drew blood don’t you know.

At this turn of events, I said, “Well, that wasn’t very friendly,” and I started to get up from the floor. Then, the psycho cat meowed, gently, as if to say, “I’m sorry, new friend, I didn’t mean to hurt you. Come back and stay with me.”

And as I crouched down again, up went his hackles, and out went his paw again to scratch me a second time.

Now I’d had enough, and I stood and turned to go back to my apartment, looking over my right shoulder expecting to see him walking in the other direction.

But now he is in a full crouch, and he is moving steadily down the hall toward my door and I am now moving fast to get to the door and open it, get inside, and close it before this little demented cat can come inside and scratch me and my entire family to death. I feel a cold sweat breaking out and with my back against the door, I find I am breathing heavily.

I could swear I felt the rap rap rap of his paw paw paw on the door as I walked away. I have a new found respect for urban raccoons both interior and exterior.

Now, isn’t that better than a snapchat?

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