Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Drunken Raccoons and Chocolate Donuts

I was just out walking in the spring sunshine--kind of a rarity in Portland, Oregon at this time of year--to get some vitamin D and an old fashioned chocolate donut, when a big raccoon stumbled across my path. To give this some context, it was ten in the morning in a busy part of Northwest Portland and the raccoon seemed totally oblivious to the fact that, as a wild animal, he should be slinking about at night rather than meandering across the street in broad daylight.

This was a big raccoon too. The size of two cats or a mid-sized dog. He kind of startled me at first so that I stopped in my tracks. Raccoons don't really walk like cats or dogs. They have their own weird little gait which I suppose comes from walking on those dexterous and clever hands. That strange, arch backed walk quickly cues your brain that you are dealing with something different--even if you haven't fully registered what yet. Brains are good that way. They notice even the tinniest little things out of the ordinary and then give you a quick goose to make sure you know something is up. Anyway, this gigantic raccoon just sort of rolled out of a bush on the other side of the road, stumbled his way across the street and then cut right in front of me and headed off down the sidewalk from the direction I had just come. I don't think he even noticed me. He just kind of shambled away, bleary-eyed and stunned looking, kind of listing to one side.

At first, I thought something might be wrong with him--like maybe he just woke up, or he might have been hit by a car or was in the early stages of rabies. But then I looked back over at the bush he had fallen out of and there were a couple of empty beer bottles laying there. So, I think he may have been drunk. Just to see how snoggered he was, I turned and followed him. Animals are usually pretty attuned to being followed. They catch on right away and get all freaked out about it. But not this guy. He just kept staggering down the sidewalk, like a dude heading home after an all night party. I even yelled "Hey! Raccoon! Get off the sidewalk!" just as a public service gesture, but he wasn't phased at all, didn't even wince. This suggested to me that he did not yet have a hangover. He walked down to the end of the block, turned the corner and toddled out of sight. For my part, I continued back to my office and ate my chocolate donut.

It was delicious.

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