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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  1. Posted February 11, 2009 at 11:41 am | Permalink

    We don’t have raccoons here. Thank fuck for that!

  2. Posted February 11, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    Best thing I’ve read today! Thank you!

  3. Posted February 11, 2009 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

    You are lucky I have had them charge me. They hiss and snarl.

    Maybe you should do what some ( some meaning not us high classes folks in the city we wear shoes to work) Southerns do and just shot the thing and eat it. I am sure I can get you a recipe or maybe a good coon hound the kids need a dog. Haven’t you read Where the Red Fern Grows.

    This would put an end to your racoon problem. Might beat Baby tinks and Poops.

  4. Posted February 11, 2009 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

    Oh My I can’t help but laugh, raccoons are soo smart!

  5. Posted February 11, 2009 at 12:46 pm | Permalink

    Funniest. Post. in a month! I’m sorry the evil pricks seem to like your trash, but that story was worth all the hours of cleanup … or maybe not. It wasn’t my hands in the trash. And, EWW!

    No clue how to keep them out … maybe start cooking shittier food?

  6. TheOtherJennifer
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

    Ah, life in New England. That’s a good question – why can’t the f’n trash guys put the barrels back where they found them?

    As for the coons (as grandpa would say) – is there a reason that your barrels are outside – I don’t recall if you have some sort of garage/shed that would be the optimum place to store said trash. Or is that too glaringly obvious?

  7. Posted February 11, 2009 at 1:53 pm | Permalink

    Yes, I too thought that pointing a camera at my local herd of marauding deer would scare them!

    Nope, not so much, the next evening they advanced on me while grilling,
    and and we found their hoof prints on the deck next to the hot tub.

    (Insert photo of crazy woman running though her yard with deer-off in 11pm!)

  8. Bethany
    Posted February 11, 2009 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Curse away sailor! Censorship is so yester-year. It’s probably best the kids don’t meet the little bandits, or worse… name them! Growing up, my sisters and I named our little guy “Norton” and with that name came his free pass to wreak havoc on the trash and anything else. This did not please my father, the hunter:-) If the bungees fail you, I’ve got a 130lb Bloodhound I can send up your way… the raccoons won’t bother you again, but his god-awful bay might tip your insanity scale a little.

  9. Posted February 11, 2009 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    Norton! I forgot about that little fucker! “Ditto” to my sisters comments!

  10. Posted February 11, 2009 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I fucking loved your post, especially the motherfucking amazing pictures. Keep it up.

  11. Posted February 11, 2009 at 9:46 pm | Permalink

    I could have told you about the cinderblock. My friend found two of those MFing critters working in tandem to heave the cinderblock off the trashcan lid.

    You made me laugh so hard I was choking on my Peanut Crack&M’s

  12. ashley
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    I didn’t even notice you were swearing. I find people who use swear words often, use them so well to describe things that it just flows. Its part of speech, and you actually have to be OVER-sensitive to these things to notice these swear words being used by these well versed individuals. You can totally tell when someone doesn’t swear often, and then does, because they sort of pause before saying the “offensive” word, like their thinking abut whether or not to use it. I totally believe you about getting awesome photos, and having no card. I’m stupid like that too.

  13. Posted February 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm | Permalink
  14. reen
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    So this is the reasoning behind those specifically-designed trash can sheds. Don’t get one, though, this is far funnier to read about.

  15. Posted February 12, 2009 at 3:21 pm | Permalink

    When you gotta chase them and they still don’t move? Yeah, that look he gave you WAS total boredom… 🙂

  16. Posted February 12, 2009 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Belle: Yeah, but you have Posh Spice over there, right? I’d rather have raccoons.

    Pearl: Thanks for the compliment. Glad you enjoyed it.

    Ferngoddess: Did you have on red-meat pants or something? Never heard of a charging raccoon! I’m not ready to turn to firearms just yet, but thanks for the suggestion. 😉

    Jenna: Laughter is good. That’s what I’m shooting for. (Not shooting shooting … like I said: not ready to start blasting raccoons yet.) And, yeah, they’re too smart for their own good.

    Bellamomma: Glad you thought the post was so funny. And, yeah, as long as people are getting a kick out of the stories, it makes it a lot more bearable.

    TheOtherJennifer: Sadly, no garage here. I have a carport; gives the driveway a cool, ’70s West Coast kind of vibe. Does nothing to deter raccoons, however.

    Meg: Well, at least it made for an exciting night!

    Bethany: Thanks. I shall continue to curse. And, yeah, if you and Morgan are willing to part with the dog for a few nights, that might work. 😉

    Brooke: You crazy kids and your pet raccoon. Sheesh.

    Lindsay: Thanks. I really fucking appreciate it.

    Little Miss Sunshine State: Sorry about the choking incident, but very glad to hear my tale made you laugh that hard.

    Ashley: Fuckin’ A.

    Kelly: Gracias.

    Reen: Don’t worry: a.) I’m not getting a trash-can shed, and b.) even if I did, there’d be no shortage of shenanigans to write about!

    Braja: It’s bad enough to have raccoons, but to have fat, lazy, bored raccoons is pushing it too far, right?

  17. Posted February 12, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

    You don’t have a followers button? I’m challenged….make it easy for me

  18. Posted February 12, 2009 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

    Braja: The “Followers” button you’re referring to is a feature exclusive only to Blogger-hosted blogs. I roll my own and host it myself. In the right column, and also at the bottom of the page, there are RSS links under the heading “Subscribe.” That’s the path you need to take in order to be notified when a new post is added.

  19. GinaRose
    Posted February 12, 2009 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I just found your blog, and have achieved absolutely zero at work for the past hour because I cannot stop clicking Next Page. Thanks 🙂 Great blog!

  20. Posted February 12, 2009 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

    GinaRose: Thanks very much for the compliment. Glad you’re enjoying it. 🙂

  21. Posted February 12, 2009 at 8:26 pm | Permalink

    Let me check….yep, I just peed myself from laughing so hard.

  22. Posted February 12, 2009 at 10:14 pm | Permalink


    Last night I dreamed I was attacked by raccooons. Not kidding. Thank you.

  23. Posted February 13, 2009 at 5:53 pm | Permalink

    Jessica: I don’t know whether to thank you or say “Ewwwww.” I guess I’ll go with thanks; your laundry is your problem.

    Lindsay: Happy to help. Just wait till I write about my time training with police dogs when I was a K-9 handler in the Army.

  24. Melanie
    Posted February 15, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

    Glad you got the bungee cords. Those are a sure-fire way to keep the little (!) fuckers away.

    We used to throw empty Sam Adams bottles at ours until we realized a.) we were wasting the $.05 deposit money and b.) it’s a little red-neck.

  25. Posted February 16, 2009 at 5:04 pm | Permalink

    Melanie: Wouldn’t you know it? We went away for the weekend, and I threw a bag of trash in an empty barrel on the way out. Forgot to apply bungee cord. Discovered open barrel and tattered trash upon out return. Little fuckers, indeed.

  26. Posted February 26, 2009 at 11:10 am | Permalink

    I lived in a very small town with a fenced in backyard, so I would just leave my back door open for my pets during the day when I was home. Then one night I was down watching a movie with my girlfriends and heard what I thought was my fat cat jumping down from his post. Then the dog, who was laying on me at the time, started to grumble. The 3 of us humans looked around, “like what the hell is her problem” Then we noticed Jackson, aka – the fat cat, laying on the other side of the couch. All of a sudden the dog took off up the stairs only to fall with all four legs out right, sliding on her belly, back down the stairs. I run over thinking she’s having some sort of siezure to find a GIANT raccoon coming down the stairs to see if there is any food down there. At this point the dog regained her confidence with me by herside (like hell I was going to do anything about it!) and found her feet again and her voice and went rip-roaring up the stairs and chased the ‘coon out of the house. Soon after all this I found they had been coming in, unannounced, and eating the cat food. Needless to say, the door was no longer left open. Geez, fuck me for being so smart and letting the pets let themselves out!

  27. Posted March 29, 2009 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Loved this post, one of the best I’ve read in a while! You’re a talented writer & hysterically funny – keep on amusing us all, please!

    P.S. I love the ‘F’ word. There is no other word that can express our emotion most when needed.

  28. cowgrrl
    Posted June 8, 2009 at 11:55 am | Permalink

    You have a bat, right? That is also a good coon killing weapon….

  29. Posted September 18, 2009 at 9:51 am | Permalink

    OMG – that is too funny! Happened to me too…so I know how you feel!! The little fuckers! Anyway…not only did I have the problem with the coons…I had the problem with the neighborhood dogs…so I fixed that real quick… I started putting Clorox in the garbage cans after putting the first sack of trash in there…and as a matter of fact…I no longer have to bungee cord my cans…it keeps dogs, cats and varmits (I’m a Texas gal…remember…LOL) away!!

    Have a great weekend!!!
    .-= Kari Anne´s last blog ..A Day of Remembrance…. =-.

  30. Posted October 14, 2009 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    We compost, so there is never anything attractive to critters in the garbage. I often see racoons at night, and to make them go away, a loud, sustained hissing noise scares the bejezus out of them.
    .-= witchypoo´s last blog ..Old Hurts =-.

  31. Vicki
    Posted January 7, 2010 at 4:37 pm | Permalink

    I had to share this entry with my husband, since we had similar drama here. We resorted to sprinkling our trash with vinegar or hot sauce (trash men probably didn’t appreciate). We also borrowed a cage to catch & release out of town (country folks probably didn’t appreciate either). It got especially interesting when borrowed cage lost it’s handle and we had to invent other ways to remove cage. Stinky critters! We set the trap inside my sun (enclosed) porch. Why? Yeah, we used to feed a stray momma cat and the coons wanted in on the deal. All of them ruined some screens more than once (no we don’t feed strays anymore!). Husband initially set the cage on the new carpet on put on the porch… I moved it onto the concrete, but the dumb (that’s my school teacher profanity I have to maintain so I don’t loose it in front of other people’s kids) coon we caught reached out of the cage and dragged my new carpet over to chew it to shreds!! After about half a dozen relocations, we haven’t had any problems in months… We’ll probably get the battle started again come spring. 🙁

  32. Posted January 6, 2011 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Just found your site – love it! I sympathize. My husband
    and I fought the same challenges with squirrels a couple years
    back. Just be thankful that with racoons you could prevent entry
    with a bungy cord…those fuckin’ squirrels CHEWED RIGHT THOUGH THE
    1″ PLASTIC of the lids and containers to get at our garbage,
    effectively turning our lids into something resembling swiss
    cheese. I’m convinced these “squirrels” were some hybrid of
    squirrel/racoon/werewolf. Last year the only racoon situation that
    arose involved a whole family – the baby got stuck in our bin, and
    the momma along with the rest of the litter were perched all around
    us (think of that scene in the Lion King when the hyenas and Scar
    are all around the mountainous ridges surrounding Simba). They were
    watching our every move as we tried to get the baby the hell outta
    there. Fortunately we got the baby out and got ourselves to safety
    Loonybin´s most recent blog post: Im Pretty Sure Im Being Haunted By A Ghost Who Wants To Steal My IdentityMy Profile

  33. Andrea H.
    Posted April 7, 2011 at 10:32 am | Permalink

    I know I am late to this party, but you must know, I haven’t laughed this hard out loud in a long time. I needed this story, right now, and it wouldn’t have been half as funny without the profanity. Thank you for that!!!

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