Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Raccoon in the Hand Is Worth Two in the Trash

This fall my mother's had a problem with a local raccoon who has opened his own trash service in our neighborhood. He carries away all the chicken bones, bread crumbs, and moldy tomato slices. This would be very helpful except that he scatters the rest of the trash everywhere from our front porch pillar to the lower branches of the persimmon tree in Mr. Wompsniffle's yard across the alley.

My father got so tired of telling my mother, "Watch your language!" that he finally bought a new trash can he swore no raccoon could possibly open. Unfortunately neither could my mother. One day last week, she pulled on the lid so hard she fell backwards, got her sleeve caught in the flag on the mailbox, and was nearly swept away by Mr. Henbottom's 1938 Packard. To top it off, she was pretty sure she heard the raccoon chuckling behind the gooseberry bushes.

Naturally I sprang to her assistance and began work on the Lid-o-Lure, an anti-raccoon trash container that my mother could open. As usual, there were a few tiny snags. With Version 1.0, the trashcan rolled down the driveway and spilled trash all over Mumgarden Road. Officer Peepshift happened to be driving by just as three bean cans, a discarded feather pillow, two broken spatulas, and a rotten rutabaga hit the asphalt, so my father got a ticket for littering.

The second version worked better except that my father was pretty annoyed about the bubble gum on his beard. But after what the Forest Service said about the third version (even though the game warden was no longer Super-glued to the raccoon), I decided to try an entirely new approach. It was my best idea in months: a vacuum funnel that enabled my mother to throw trash out the bedroom window. She liked it a lot until the clock radio and her nightgown got sucked into the garbage.

At that point my father - in what I think of as his anti-invention voice - remarked HUMPF! and stormed out to the driveway. What I actually invented, it turned out, was a way to persuade my father to carry the trashcan onto the screened-in porch. Now I just hope the raccoon doesn't have a wire-cutter.

P.S. A final piece of exciting news. My life story, FLAT LIKE FRED, is now available in ebook format for the Nook, Apple i-devices, and most other kinds of ereaders. You can check it out here.

P.P.S Mr. Henbottom said he's finally decided to buy a modern, up-to-date car only he can't find a 1940 Packard anywhere.

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