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18 September 2006

Raccoon Speech

(Begins w/ patter appropriate to circumstances, i.e., baby talk and cooing noises, words and sounds I'd feel funny writing down. Lullabies half-remembered from childhood:

Dun-dun soi
I must leave you today
For Paiyau
Is far, far away.
If you look for me, son,
You come to Paiyau
Where you'll find me at home.

And so on. Rock-a-bye raccoon, on a railing top. . . .) Hello? Raccoons? Listen. Is it okay if I call you Paddy? And you, Pedro, and Penny and Paella? Okay. Now, I know we don't have much in common. (It's okay, it's okay, don't move. . . .) Most of the raccoons I've known have been country raccoons. It probably wouldn't help if I talked about forests and ponds. Like, how peaceful it is when the moon is full, and I can hear the breeze as it rises through the trees, it sounds like the trees are speaking to each other, back and forth, and the breeze never makes it to the water, whose surface is a perfect reflection of the night sky, and when my eyes adjust I see a raccoon, a patch of black darker than the rest, come down to the edge of the water, wash his paws, and he probably sees the mirror stars more clearly than the real ones; teh mirrored stars are more real to him; maybe he looks up at the blurry sky and says, 'What an imperfect reflection of this world!

I ramble a lot with people, too.

Anyways. I can tell that didn't exactly soothe you. You're city raccoons, I know -- don't move, don't move, be a good city raccoon, just sit still a little while -- you don't know about forests and ponds, you're all about rooftops, and ancient oasis groves in the middle of apartment blocks, fire escapes and storm drains, pigeon eggs and leftover pizza -- I bet you love anchovies -- the thrill of garbage day, stealing keys from the pockets of passed-out drunks and hiding them in their shoes. Yeah yeah yeah. You're tricksters, through and through. Got the masks, the long clever humorous fingers like a tailor or pickpocket. And you thought that tonight you'd trick your mom and dad, pretend to be asleep, sneak out and see the city, the real city, you're big enough and old enough and nobody tells you when to go to bed. And now the night just sucks. Not what you wanted at all. You're frightened, you're scared, you don't know what's going to happen to you, what kind of trouble you're going to be in, you think you might even die. Don't worry, okay? You're going to be all right. Just hold still.

And in a couple years, you'll be proud, trust me. You'll yell at your own cubs nd be waiting just outside the hole when they least expect it, but deep down you'll be proud of them, and you'll brag about all this when you're hanging out with the other adults, drinking Budweiser floaters that you've dragged up the tree and into the den. But first -- just stay still, okay? People are coming to get you, with ladders and nets and flashing lights. It's kind of weird, that. I mean, here our society is, the richest in the history of man, we can send a truck and trained rescuers to four raccoons stuck on a ledge. But we can't even keep some poor woman's newborn child in the hospital for a couple more days. Like I said, weird. Makes your head hurt a bit. But then, you spend all night scraping people off the pavement, responding to women hit their men, turning on sirens when you hear gunshots, you figure, rescuing a raccoon's probably a break. A treat. The kind of thing that makes little kids smile, and that matters, cause so long as little kids smile there's a chance for us. For the little kid in us.

And so long as you're here, we come out of our apartments, out of our own dens. Turn off the TVs and our loneliness and our routines. Call our friends. We talk to each other and get excited and mill about on the street, inside our roles, outside our roles, connecting to each other, this night a little different and a little special. Because of you. Because we might not be able to save the world, but we sure as hell can help a few adorable little punk-assed raccoons to safety. Yeah, it doesn't hurt that you're so damn cute. Especially you, Pedro. (And you, Paella, and Paddy and Penny! You're all special!) It's life, all of this. And it's gonna work for you. Just don't move, okay?