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Garage Doors & Raccoons

When seen in profile, a raccoon looks like a question mark laid on its side.

But then, everything about raccoons is in the realm of the questionable. What, for instance, do they think they are?

They have a fox’s snout, a monkey’s paws, a cat’s tail. They have appetites as ravenous and as indiscriminate as a dog’s. Their eyes have the pleading quality of a dog’s, too, and can be just as heart melting, if they’re in the mood. They are as cute as all get out, but have needle teeth that when bared give you the heebie-jeebies. They’re as brazen as beggars and as shy as thieves, and they believe themselves to be invisible, even in the daytime, when they do not so much as stroll to where they’re going as insinuate themselves there. (Animals cause humans to react in many ways -with fear, wonder, often love -but raccoons are one of the few that inspire suspicion. I see them slink by with that humpy gait and all I think is, “Okay, what the hell are you up to?”) They exist somewhere on the boundary between civilization and wilderness, and live easily in either.

And, they are pretty smart. There’s the story of a raccoon that was bedeviling a homeowner by always managing to find a way into his house. The homeowner could not understand how the raccoon kept on getting in, until one day he saw it for himself: The raccoon had learned how to push the button on the automatic garage door opener.

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