G

uess what I saw in the garage this morning?” Scott asked.

I like to think it was the ridiculously early hour at which we had this conversation that rendered me bereft of any genuinely creative guesses. I offered ‘cat’ a couple of times and ‘hobo’ once (or maybe I just wish that I had; I can’t remember exactly), then stared at Scott blankly and waited for the correct answer.

A raccoon had been walking around on our pool table a few minutes before I’d returned home from my walk. Scott opened the door to the garage on some pet-related errand only to find a grown-ass raccoon making the rounds of its confines. Confronted by its human host, the raccoon jumped from the table up onto a pile of boxes near the door. After a shared moment of awkward eye contact, the raccoon turned his back on Scott to descend from its perch and exit our home. For his part, Scott deliberately closed the door to the garage and walked back up the stairs in the hopes that, given the time and space, the interloper would make good on what appeared to be a good faith attempt to vacate the premises.

For my part, I was pretty happy to have missed the raccoon sighting entirely, and not because I believed the part of Scott’s story that put the animal’s size at roughly equivalent to that of our 55-pound puppy. His was an eye-witness account obviously colored by early-morning bleariness and shock. (Also, subsequent internet searches put the top end for raccoon weight at 30 pounds, so what I’m trying to say is, that’s crazy talk, Scott.)

There are things that find entry when our backs are turned. Sometimes they’re furry, demonstrate a fondness for cat food and carry rabies. Mostly, though, they’re hairy realizations—a collection of changes and developments you might have managed to overlook until, finally, you open a door to find them, wild-eyed and staring back at you expectantly.

By this description, my life would appear to be crawling with raccoons right now, rife with unpredictable, masked animals who might not intend a bit of harm but absolutely must be dealt with to the last. These days, I open all of my metaphorical doors slowly, peeking around their corners before fully entering into any situation that might be waiting there and hoping like the dickens that nothing on the other side bites.