Kage Baker had a low tolerance for cute. Especially among animals. Not only did she not like most animals, she was almost completely lacking in the Squeee! response. The few animals she thought were cute, though, were baby things; because what she lacked in Squeee Sensitivity, she made up in Neotony Appreciation.
Kittens just passed muster – she could always see the cat under the skin, she said. She was fonder of foals and ducklings, for their artistic merit; and puppies, because they usually grew up to be useful citizens. Most of her limited cute tolerance was reserved for human babies.
Raccoons didn’t make her list.
I’m a lot more tolerant than Kage was: and I HATE RACCOONS! There. I said it. Screw you, Mikko and all those extras in Bambi and Snow White. They are malign, vicious demons, out to destroy our way of life and our vermin-proof garbage cans. Nature has equipped them with all sorts of traits that should add up to cuteness, but just don’t.
Merely having big eyes and hands is not enough. Neither is being fuzzy. Fuzz is not, in and of itself, attractive; recall the last time you had to clean out a lint trap. Big eyes, ditto – I invite you to contemplate the Humboldt squid, who will happily gaze into your eyes with its goggling own as it eats your face. And hands might even be a sign of inherent evil.
Not fat starfish baby hands, all dimpled and soft. Those are charming. But raccoon hands are skeletal and twitchy; they look like black gloves. They explore hinges and locks and handles with a ceaseless destructive energy, constantly testing for the critical weakness – even when they sit up (am enchanting posture in an otter or a Corgi) those nasty little hands hang there at belly level, ready to lash out and grab you … they’re not washing their food, you know. They’re drowning it.
And they make noises like microphone feedback.
And they run around at night but apparently have poor night vision, which is a hell of a way to be nocturnal. It means they run into walls and trees and one another, and fall off roofs, and all the while they are squealing like a cheap audio setup in the high school gym. When they run into cars – and they do – the car alarms go off and then you get raccoon feedback and whatever hysterical noises have been programmed into your pretentious neighbor’s BMW.
And then the dogs bark. All. Night. Long.
Someone up the block keeps beagles. Even on a good day, beagles sound like they’re being murdered; three or four hours into a raccoon-fest night, they sound like they’ve been killed, reanimated and are now being roasted undead. Someone else up the block keeps chihuahuas, who shriek like human children. And we have a Corgi: a brave, determined, Corgi with OCD, who will bay and howl at raccoons for as long as it takes to drive them away. Even if it takes 4 hours. Even if the sky is getting light and his mistress is sobbing on the couch before the raccoons get far enough away to satisfy him. Even if you bribe him with marshmallows and cheese; which really ought to be enough for anyone …
I am sure you have detected my gist by now. We had raccoons all night, which is like having malaria – every time you start to relax, it comes back.
Of all the animals unjustly regarded as cute, racoons are prime. Just because they have fur and comic haberdashery, they have an undeserved reputation for being adorable; when in fact they are Lords of Lesser Evil and minions of the Greater. Somewhere, I am sure, hideous chthonic hybrid raccoons lurk in the dark, washing their horrid little hands with tentacles, sending out waves of their brethren to dance obscenely and clumsily on my roof.
Try going to the bathroom at 5 AM, and having a raccoon plummet past the window while you sit there exhausted in the dark. It kicked and clutched at the window, too, as it went squealing past; and the house shook, I swear, when it hit the ground … good thing I was sitting where I was.
Fuzziness is not enough to make them tolerable. Because, because, you know because why? Under the black masks and stripes and fuzz, there is this:
That’s right. You’ve all been warned. Do not be fooled by fuzz. Now I’m gonna go make a jelly bread sarnie and load the big squirt gun, and take a wary nap. ‘Cause I know they’re out there.