The man in the raccoon hat

This story is about neighborhoods.

My country road stretches about a mile, more corn and cows than people.

One fall day, I am taking a west bound walk, and noticed a dead raccoon in the road. 

A missing mufflered van approached.  In the front was my intellectually challenged lower road neighbor, shirtless, his larger than life wife, and three screaming kids.

Neighbor pops out of the van….

“Yeeee haaaa! A dead raccoon! I’m a gonna make me a raccoon hat!”

And with that, he tossed the raccoon on the top of his van and drove off in a cloud of blue smoke, the raccoon tail waving in the wind.

Stopped and stared for the longest time.

God, how I loved it. And loved the hell out of where I lived.

Let’s face it you just aren’t  gonna see that kind of stuff in upscale neighborhoods.

You wouldn’t even see a dead raccoon. Public works would have picked it up after ten minutes.

I guess raccoon man was kind of the perfect metaphor for our part of the world.  Somewhat dim, hygienically challenged, and definitely oddball.

In my immediate neighborhood, I have Bobby to my left, my age, living alone, a lover of Bob Dylan. We hit the diner together often.

Across the street I have cranky Bill, very old, very drunk, a lover of guns.

The worst home keeper of the bunch is definitely me…grass gets a bit too tall, garbage can gets left by the road one night too long, and I don’t shovel the snow till it hits the roof.  I did have nice azaleas and rhododendrons out front years ago, but they all died.  I used to plant petunias and other annuals, but I have given up on that.

I think cranky Bill would like to see me pick up my act, and I believe he shares that gripe with Bobby.

Out of the group, I am the shortest in tenure, only 28 years at this location.  The other two date back to the 1950’s.

I shudder to think what would happen to us, along with raccoon man, if we woke up and were plunked down in a ‘nice’ residential neighborhood.  Homeowners association reps and other ‘nose in the air’ types would be beating an endless path to our doors, for all the wrong reasons.

And I would hate the fact that I would have to curb my ‘prance in front of the big window naked’ style.  That just wouldn’t play well at all.

This is definitely not a Lexus neighborhood. I probably have the best car, and it is twelve years old.  I think Bobby is driving a ’65 Chevy pickup.

Nothing exciting ever happens here, except for the raccoon.  A car did explode into flames in front of my house about 20 years ago, and a glider tragically crashed into the cornfield next door before i moved in.

Nightlife consists of wild animal noises…most of them unidentifiable. Lots of deer, foxes, one bear, and a rumored coyote.

And when did wild turkeys become such an incredible presence?

Never want to move…when I get too old to wipe my own…..chin, I will call on cranky Bill to shoot me.


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