Saturday, August 29, 2009
Fending Off A Masked Intruder With Soft Furnishings
Last night started off like every other Friday night that I have the boys. It is 8.00pm, both boys are asleep and I am half plugged into my iPod trying to compile a playlist for a party on Saturday, which is not going too well. As usual, the back door is open and there is a pleasant breeze drifting through the kitchen into the living room.
I am totally focused on sifting through songs, but keep getting the feeling that there is someone at the back door. I hear rustling and peek over my shoulder at the door, but see nothing and assume it is the cats or the neighbours. I get back to the task at hand. However, the feeling continues and I curse inwardly at my two felines for making me so jumpy...until I realise that they are both sitting in front of me, staring with hair raising concern at the back door. The hairs on the back of my neck begin to prickle and I glance with trepidation once again at the back door. Nothing. I breath a sigh of relief and decide to just shut the door and be done with it.
Which is when I see him. My masked intruder. Sitting calmly in the middle of the kitchen eating his way through the cat food. A raccoon. A massive beady eyed furball, the size of an overstuffed corgi, intently gorging himself on the finest organic cat chow within 6 feet of me.
I scream. I think. It might have been an internal scream. And I grab the nearest weapon to hand - a small green sofa cushion - to ward off what I assume to be an imminent attack. My instinct is to run hell for leather out of the front door, get in my car and sit there with the doors locked. Which is probably the tack I would have taken if I had been home alone. But my protective maternal instinct kicked in and I stood my ground, willing to fight to the death with my 8" squared piece of soft furnishing.
"Get out! Get out!" I shouted, waving the green cushion menacingly towards the intruder. He didn't even flinch, much less pause for breath between mouthfuls. "GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!" I screech at twenty thousand million trillion decibels, advancing forward two cautious steps whilst waving the cushion more threatening.
At this point the raccoon does deign to register my presence. Looks at me nonchalantly, stands up slightly on his two hind legs...and hisses malevolently.
Oh Holy Mother of God. Now I am a lover of all animals but have learnt through hard experience to have a healthy respect for all creatures, especially those not renowned for being man's best friend. There was the time I was chased by an elephant through Kenya, then later that evening stalked at close range by a peckish leopard. A baboon spat at me when I tried, without success, to retrieve my backpack that he'd pilfered. I've had my finger bitten by a giant mackaw, my eye bitten by a small yappy type dog and let's not forget the time that a horse wrapped it's nashers around my boob and refused to let go, even when offered an incentive in the form of a polo.
I didn't know much about raccoons and had no inclination to become a close range expert. Or fodder for an entertaining story on the evening news. I could already hear the headlines: mother mauled beyond recognition by vicious raccoon whilst trying to defend herself with a handful of feathers stuffed into a cotton casing.
Whilst still using a combination of the slow advance/loud shriek technique I managed to reach the stainless steel bin in the kitchen and started to kick the living daylights out of it. The resulting racket finally rattled the raccoon sufficiently to give me one farewell hiss before slouching off out of the door. I ran to the door, slammed it shut, bolted it locked and, with my heart still in my mouth, backed away from it slowly, convinced the furry critter was going to reconsider his retreat and barge his way back in to eat me for dessert.
Try as I might I could not relax. What if he had been having a dinner party at the cat bowls and the rest of his guests were lying in wait for me in the corners of the utility room? I was too spooked to check.
Three hours later I mustered the courage to open the back door to reassure myself that the intruder was not patiently laying in wait...and almost had a heart attack when I saw him sitting two feet from the door. God, that cat food must be really tasty. I spent the whole night half awake, tossing and turning, hallucinating that my kitchen was overrun with raccoons and as soon as they had eaten the contents of the fridge they would rampage the rest of the house, killing us all.
This morning I regaled the boys with the tale of the raccoon and then, while looking for a picture to show them, found this. It is compelling reading - I promise you won't be disappointed - and essential reading for those of us not as clued up about this particular mammal as we should be. (For those of you who aren't sure you can be bothered to click the link, let me tempt you with the promise of a photo of a raccoon's penis bone. There. Thought that would get you.)
And today...well, the back door remains well and truly locked and I have unearthed a rubber baseball bat from the back of the play room cupboard. Just in case.