Sunday, October 16, 2011

It Happened One Night--to Me and Boo

So there we were watching night-time TV—we being myself and Boo Radley, Unfriendly Cat and Fourth Pretend Husband--when my left ear (being luckily pointed in that direction) heard the telltale squeak of Boo’s new cat door swinging wide open.

Since Boo was seated on top of my stomach (and also because I am taking good meds) it did not take me overly long to conclude that it was probably not he who had just sauntered in.  And I don’t think it took me more than a minute to figure out that if it wasn’t Boo, it almost certainly had to be someone else. And since my friends always call before they come over, and Boo rather famously doesn’t have friends, I was pretty sure it was an intruder.

An intruder in our own private home. An intruder, no less, who could squeeze through a cat door.
Or, assuming the intruder were a three-headed serpent, would not even have to squeeze himself through, and could well be slithering toward us right now.

Muting the movie and hearing no slithers, I was seized by questions about Freddie Krueger. Was he short? Was he thin? Incredibly thin? An incredibly thin and bendy contortionist? On the lam perhaps from Cirque du Soleil, the better to kill me in Boringame?

It was only then that I realized that Boo had stopped watching the movie and turned his wee orange head toward the door. Not wanting Boo to think me a coward, I made myself do the same. And then I saw what Boo's green eyes were totally glued to: a large and utterly silent raccoon. Silent and thankfully, for the moment at least, also still.

Our four eyes stared at him like two deer caught in the raccoony headlights until what’s left of my instincts finally kicked in and made me put Boo into a vise grip. What’s a vise grip? I have no idea, but, knowing that raccoon could shred Boo to bits in two seconds flat, I put him into one anyway. And Boo, who perhaps also understood how easily he could be shredded, did not even try to spring out of it.

Though it felt like we stayed that way for an hour, it was probably more like a minute, after which the raccoon became bored and squeezed himself back from whence he had come.  I felt relief and then the requisite post-relief indignation.

“What an asshole,” I said to Boo.

“Meow,” Boo agreed. 

And then, our night ruined, we went to bed.

The next morning I strolled into my living room only to find my freshly washed carpet freshly carpeted with bits of strewn garbage. I followed the trail of chicken bones and avocado peels into the kitchen where of course my garbage bag had exploded.

“He was casing the joint!” I said to Boo. “Didn’t I tell you he was an asshole?”

But it hit me then that I was the asshole because this was the second time I'd found strewn garbage, and when it had happened ten days before, I’d put the blame completely on Boo. Which is one more reason we should not have a death penalty: Boo was the victim of a wrongful conviction.

I apologized to Boo 20 times, but what good was that since I did not even think to close up his cat door to prevent a raccoon recurrence? Then again, neither had Pretend Husbands Hank Fitz or Ed Head when I'd told them the story, they had just laughed. Nosireebob, it was only The Cowboy, my most elusive and thus most valued P. Husband, who threw his crippled self onto my floor to examine the cat door and lock it up tight.

“I didn’t even know it had a lock,” I said lamely.

 Not that I’d bothered to get down and look.  

“Well, Jeannie," he said. "That’s probably because you're the laziest person in the world."

"Well duh," I said. “You’re just noticing now?”

My landlady has promised to install one of those magic magnetic cat doors that only Boo will be able to open, and I hope she does it today. I hope this because the newly vindicated Boo is punishing me for his wrongful conviction by insisting I let him outside, and then back inside, and then back outside, all day and night every two seconds.  And if I’m even one second late, he screams at me like a banshee from hell.  For which I can't blame him because, let's face it,  I'd do the same, only 50 times worse.  


  1. Since raccoons are CLEARLY EVIL there's not much you can do about this but hope they lose interest. I tried to get some feral cats to stop terrorizing us by putting out a Hav-A-Heart trap... and caught a raccoon. (Would the cats have been any better? Not really.) It was so angry, huge, and hiss-ful that I was too scared to get close enough to get it out -- and then it got itself out. I ran.

    I am still traumatized; I cannot imagine having that much rage and cunning inside of my house.

    Sleep with a big stick, Ms G.

  2. I hate to ruin your peace of mind, but - raccoons can get into locked cat doors. They can get into magnetized cat doors. I know this from unfortunate experience. I finally made a wood door that swings over the cat door on the inside and has a hook and eye type lock. We use it at night, raccoons being, generally speaking, nocturnal. The good news is, if you keep them out for a number of weeks they seem to forget you're on their route for awhile, sometimes a very long while. And if it's any consolation, you're far from alone in this problem. Jon Carroll wrote a column about it just last week.
    Good luck!

  3. Sorry, darlin'. I'm the laziest person in the world, though I did once chase a racoon up my back path while swinging a plastic lawn chair and shrieking because the damn thing was trying to drag my 20 lb. dog away. Ah, but that was long ago and far away.

  4. In Colorado I had a HUGE problem with raccoons, too huge to go into in this small comment box, but HUGE problem(s)! When I moved to SF, silly non-city slicker that I was back then, I smugly thought, "At least I won't have to deal with raccoons!" (Ha! I also thought no one would want to steal a Toyota station wagon.) I lived in a place that was infested with them to the point that when the mama would come in to feed her babies at night (yes, she'd had babies above one of my bedrooms), she'd knock things off the wall as she passed on the other side. Landlord thought I was making it up; wouldn't do anything. Had to move. I came out of my present house about a year ago and my outside stairway was filled with them - probably a dozen! They are the thugs of the animal world ... (they don't like ammonia, but then, who does?) My condolences, dear Ms. Gonick.

  5. I hope this commitment to install the magnetic kittie-door means your landlady has decided not to sell your home!