When people ask me, “Lauren, what is the weirdest thing that has ever happened to you?,”* the following story always pops in my head. It has the winning formula of impossible odds, irony and wild animals.
*No one has ever asked me that.
In the summer of 2008, I lived with three girlfriends in an apartment close to a park. On a beautiful day, we decided to stroll down to said park armed with bags of bread to feed the ducks along the river.
Sidenote: I freaking love ducks. They can swim, waddle AND fly, AND they are super cute, AND they are the perfect shape for cradling. Not that I know from experience…darn things are too quick! They also mate for life. My dad once told me a story of when he saw two ducks swimming towards him in a harbour but when they got closer, he realized the male duck was dead and the female duck was carrying him. She didn’t want to part with her dead lover! What’s more romantic than that? (I’m going to go ahead and guess the answer is “a lot of things,” but what do I know?)
Oh, and what’s cuter than a row of baby ducklings crossing the road?!
Ok, so you should understand that I was very excited about feeding the ducks. We got to the river and started throwing bread into the water. Oh how the ducks swarmed and splashed in delight! I swear they were quacking, “Thank you! Thank you! You’re amazing! We’re not worthy!” (Listen closely next time…)
In my duck-induced state of euphoria, I didn’t notice that my roommates were no longer by my side. They were feeding something else behind me.
A god-damned raccoon.
I’ve watched enough wildlife shows, and, you know, paid attention in school and to what adults told me growing up and have enough, you know, common sense to know that feeding a wild raccoon is a no no.
My roommates, on the other hand, thought this creature was adorable. They threw it pieces of bread (which was meant for the DUCKS! WON’T SOMEBODY PLEASE THINK OF THE DUCKS?!) from a few feet away. The raccoon would scurry forward, grab the food with its dirty, mangy fingers, then scurry back into the bushes. Its enormous, protruding titties signalled that it was a mother likely feeding her young. BARF. Soon enough, mama raccoon was getting close enough to take the bread out of their hands. EWWWWW!!!! Some regular park-goers, also throwing food to it, explained that the raccoon wasn’t around before, but now keeps coming back to the same spot. Ummmmmm, ya DUH.
I didn’t let my opinion of what my friends were doing go unnoted. I voiced very strongly that, for the record, I was against feeding the raccoon and that it was disgusting and it would bite them and give them rabies (as far as I’m concerned, all raccoons are rabid). I went on a self-righteous, holier-than-thou rant that I was sure would change their minds.
It didn’t. They kept feeding the varmint.
Defeated, I returned to the ducks. I sat on the edge of a boulder facing the river, my back to the insanity unfolding behind me, and fed the last of my bread to the rightful recipients. When my friends finally ran out of food, they abandoned the beast, who retreated to the bushes, and joined me seated along the river.
A few minutes passed.
“What the…?” I felt a sudden random wetness on my elbow. I turned my head to the left and–I kid you not, no exaggeration–here is what I saw:
THE SNEAKY LITTLE FUCKER LICKED MY ARM.
A FREAKING RACCOON FREAKING LICKED MY FREAKING ARM.
Mama wanted more food, so she chose to pester me, the only person not feeding her, and FREAKING LICKED MY FREAKING ARM!!!
Shrieking and screaming obscenities, I flung my body in the opposite direction and crawled away in a blind panic.
My friends just laughed and laughed and laughed…