A barrel of laughs

[WARNING: Contains profanity … as does most of this blog … but it occurred to me after linking to this entry from an entry on The Pioneer Woman’s far more wholesome site that some of her audience might come over and have a heart attack when they unwittingly stumbled into a big pile of “F” bombs … so, now that you’ve been warned, any cardiac issues that might result from reading the following are on you.]

About a million years ago, I mentioned some trouble we were having with raccoons getting into our trash barrels. Months later, my barrel nightmare continues … and, at this point, the raccoons aren’t even the problem; I am. But we’ll get to that.

Last summer and fall, I often started my day by glancing out the window and noticing that my two trash barrels were lying on their sides with the lids off, the plastic bags of refuse contained therein shredded, and the now-half-eaten contents of said plastic bags strewn about the back steps, walkway and yard.

“Fuck!” I would exclaim. “Goddamn motherfucking raccoons!” I would add.*

Then I would go outside with a plastic grocery bag over my hand and use it to pick up and deposit back into the barrels the various slimy and disgusting gobs of partially chewed bread, pizza, wet tissues, coffee filters, ear swabs, chicken bones and a myriad of other gag-reflex-inducing items—all of which were made even more delectable if it had rained during the night.

After a couple of these episodes, I realized I needed to do something to prevent the raccoons from getting into the barrels. I started simple: I placed a couple of plastic lawn chairs upside down on top of the barrels … both to physically prevent the raccoons from gaining access, and to simultaneously give the appearance of an eating establishment that had closed for the night. “Go elsewhere, vermin; we’re closed,” the upside-down chairs implied.

Despite the clear message I was sending, the raccoons were undeterred. In fact, not only were they able to topple the chairs and barrels, but they also used some discarded cream cheese to smear on the pavement a note reading: “Ha ha! Nice try, dumbass!”

In the weeks that followed, I tried foiling the raccoons by placing atop the barrels other items: a Red Flyer wagon; a miniature, rideable dump truck; a quasi-cinderblock thing that weighed about 50 pounds. Sometimes they defeated me, but other mornings, I would rise to find that everything was still intact—which I later realized was just the raccoons’ way of messing with me. The ol’ Rope-a-Dope. They let me wear myself out while allowing me to think I was winning.

Their strategy worked … for, sometimes, emboldened by a false sense of security and the misguided belief that I had thwarted the raccoons once and for all, I would neglect to construct my fortress of obstacles. And it was on several of these occasions that, while Wonder Woman and I sat on the couch watching television, I heard my nemeses breaking into the unprotected barrels.

On one such occasion, I sprang from the couch, opened the back door and saw, just on the other side of the screen door, a raccoon who had ascended the back steps and was now trying to pry the lid off one of the barrels. And I figured he would head for zee hills when he saw the big human standing six inches away from him, but he just looked at me through the screen with what I believe is the closest a raccoon can come to an expression of utter boredom and total disinterest. Or maybe it was just the fact that he and his partner—who already was inside the other, still-upright barrel—were both so goddamn fat from feasting on my garbage for weeks on end that they had become overweight to the point of lethargy, and mustering up the energy to run away from the big human was just too much work for them to even consider.

As if not being scared of me wasn’t obnoxious enough, the little fucker stood on his hind legs, placed his front paws on the screen, pushed his snout up under a wooden slat that runs horizontally across the middle of the door and began sniffing big raccoon lungfulls of whatever it is we’d had for dinner that evening—which apparently was so tantalizing that it caused him to begin licking the screen. I shit you not.

Well, Wonder Woman was rather freaked out, and I’d had enough of this arrogant little bastard’s bullshit, because how dare he not cower in my presence? Me, the superior human? Thus, I coaxed him off the steps by pushing the door open, then ran down the steps toward him, which finally caused him to flee. His shithead partner was still in the barrel, so I kicked it over, thinking he’d immediately run out, but he was either too scared to exit, or had decided that there was no way in hell he was abandoning the buffet unless physically forced to do so—which he ultimately was when I grabbed the wheels on the bottom of the barrel and tilted the bottom end upward, causing Rocky and the trash to tumble out of the top, at which point he finally fled, too.

Over time, we had a number of similar such raccoon sightings, which we told Zan about, and he, of course, wanted to see the raccoons, so I told him I’d try to take some pictures for him the next time they decided to dine at Casa de Scratches.

During a subsequent raccoon visit, I began trying to scare the two of them away, then remembered about the pictures, dashed to get the camera, and made it back in time to capture this spectacular shot:

Raccoon tail

The next time, the raccoons were particularly brazen, and, when I advanced on them, would only retreat to the tree several feet away from the barrels, so I again grabbed the camera and proceeded to orchestrate a raccoon photo shoot for the ages. I’m telling you, it was spectacular; one of the raccoons clung to the side of the tree at eye level and got all Cindy Crawford on me, posing like he/she was America’s Next Top Model.

“Zan’s gonna freak when he sees these,” I said to Wonder Woman, who was looking out the window while the photo shoot took place. Hell, not only did I think Zan was going to freak, but I was pretty sure National Geographic was going to use one of the shots for the cover of their next issue, complete with the headline: “The Most Breathtaking Raccoon Photos Ever Taken.”

In the midst of the shoot, I attempted to view on the camera’s display screen one of the pictures I’d just taken and discovered that some bumbling moron had forgotten to reinsert the compact-flash card—and I would have kicked that bumbling moron’s ass had the bumbling moron in question not been me. Since kicking my own ass seemed silly, I instead retrieved the card and ran back outside, at which point I captured this beauty right here:

Raccoon in tree

By this point, I’d had enough of the raccoon hijinks, and decided it was time to ratchet up my prevention methods. I ultimately settled on a pair of Rubbermaid Roughneck barrels, which I raccoon-proofed by strapping the lids down with a bungee cord that I ran from one handle to the other, like so:

Bungee & barrel

The raccoons knocked them over a couple of times, but, lo and behold, could not get the lids off. Finally, I had successfully outwitted an animal whose brain is the side of an almond. Yay, me.

And that is where the story should end, except it doesn’t, because a couple of weeks ago, our trash collectors, as they seem to always do, left the lids and empty barrels on the ground along the side of the road instead of back in the driveway from whence they came—which is why one of the lids was subsequently destroyed when the oil-delivery truck arrived a short while thereafter and ran it over. The word “pissed” does not begin to capture my feelings about this.

The following week, I figured I’d let the trash collectors know they had fucked up, and would ask them to not fuck up again, by taping to the damaged lid a large note, like so:

Barrel with note

This turned out to be a wise decision, as I believe the white paper and green marker made the lid more visible to the passing cars that might otherwise have run it over after the trash collectors again left everything on the side of the road.

The same note remained in place last week, and, to their credit, the trash collectors this time did throw the lids back into the driveway, but the barrels were still sticking out into the street, and also partially blocking the entrance to the driveway.

Now, if a normal person pulled up on such a scene, they would most likely park their car in the street, move the barrels and then pull into the subsequently obstruction-free driveway. Unfortunately, I am not normal … which is I why I instead decided that I couldn’t resist the challenge of successfully squeezing my car in between the barrels on my left and the snowbank on my right.

I was like a surgeon, I tell you. I slipped the car in there like a seamstress threading a needle. In fact, so snug was the fit that the driver’s side of my car actually grazed one of the upside-down barrels as I passed it … which would have been simply ducky if not for the fact that, unbeknownst to me, the handle to said barrel was jutting out in the direction of my car, and snapped right the fuck off when my back tire ran over it.

What’s that? You want to know if I’m aware of what a gargantuan dipshit I am, and if I realize that I got exactly what I deserved for doing such a galactically moronic thing? Why, yes … yes, I do, thank you. I do indeed.

*Yes, I’m vulgar. I use the “F” word. A lot. I know this. Wonder Woman hates it. Some of you might dislike it, also. However: You want honesty, yes? Well, in all honesty, I curse like a drunken sailor lost at sea when I get pissed off. Can’t handle my cursing? Then YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!

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