I’m guilty of social awkwardness. Often times to combat this I either talk loudly or nervously, tell off-side jokes or consume alcohol. Usually it’s one or a combination of these things that gets me through social intercourse at crowded nightclubs. It’s slightly easier in Vancouver than most places. Given our status as lotus-munching yogis who have ridiculously high cost of living but are also high spiritualists as well, I can usually find an opener. Whether it’s asking if people have done the Wild Rose Cleanse (aka I’m a human fecal cannon), where do you practice yoga at (so I can come ogle you in yoga gear) and asking about their spirit guides. Given that most of the city knows me as ‘Raccoon’ I’ve gotten asked where and when did I know that the raccoon was my spirit animal.
The raccoon of the procyonid family, and is a staple of the North American landscape. These little guys can live in wilderness or city settings. Nature and conservation advocate David Suzuki once referred to them as ‘urban sophisticates’ on his program The Nature Of Things. They were once considered solitary creatures but have proven to have very complex and ornate social groups, which is comparable to primates. Dexterous and sometimes destructive when living among people, they are wily and have a gift of problem solving. But whether you love them or hate them, one thing is a solid fact: they utterly fail as house pets.
It was the late 70′s. My aunt and uncle fell in love with a little ball of grey fluff they christened Angus. Angus started life as an orphan, and when his mother died, he and his siblings were rescued and sold out of a local pet store. Again, this was the 70s so I’m very sure that this was a totally logical step rather than just, you know, rehabilitating them to live in the wild. They also had shag carpet back then, too. So, it was with this little adorable baby coon my aunt and uncle decided to give being raccoon surrogates a go. However, there were some… problems that came with that territory.
Raccoons can get a lot of work done in a day. By ‘work’ I mean ‘utterly rip apart your house and make you insane’. Angus had tricks like digging up the potted plants, getting into every cupboard and closet and pulling out the contents, shredding toilet paper and peeling wallpaper off the walls in great strips (remember: late 70s). Outside he’d peel slugs like bananas and eat them. He’d root through my grandmother’s purse for her collection of white, smooth Scotch mints. He’s stroke and caress my uncle and grandfather’s beards with his little paws. What was cute when he was little gradually got to be a little much as he grew into a full-sized male.
During this time my mother was pregnant with me. As I grew, her lap shrank. This was a problem, since Angus loved as a baby to run at her and leap into her lap whenever she was sitting. My mother always swore up and down that he could tell she was nervous of him doing that as the real estate on her lap began to disappear and he himself grew to 50 lbs. The proof that raccoons have a sense of humour was he’d run at her when there was no longer a lap to speak of, only to fake her out at the last minute, running sideways with his mouth open in a raccoony smile. It was during these exchanges I’m pretty certain deep in the womb I felt my mother curse that raccoon and all that fetal-me heard was a vibration in the womb of ‘RACCOON’. Thusly imprinting on me and more or less cursing me for life.
Other girls in Sweet Soul Burlesque have their spirit animals. Lola Frost and Crystal Precious are both panthers, Cara Milk is our wise medicine owl, and Cherry Ontop’s is Robert Downy Jr. I still identify as Raccoon, as I share a large number of raccoon-like traits. I get in trouble more often than not. I like the city and the wilderness. I’m good at hustling things in the city. I’ve got hands that can do some nifty party tricks (lock-picking, getting out of handcuffs, occasionally a card trick here and there). I can and will eat almost anything, which isn’t always advisable. But by far my greatest skill that likens me to the raccoon is my adaptability and talent for finding what I need when I need it. That, and looking deceptively cute while being ridiculously destructive.
Not sure how well this will fly when next I travel and I’m working a room. Might be a Kootenany tour with the ladies of Sweet Soul, Las Vegas at the BHoF, or LA. I might just keep a deck of tarot cards in my purse and whip them out and do impromptu fortune telling. It will be my way find a conversation without forcing it, and a chance to feel them up and see if they’ve any Scotch mints on them.
Hugs and hisses,
Little Miss Risk