On the night before Halloween this year — spooky! — I obliterated a raccoon with my car. I had time to register a striped tail darting into the road before I felt a sizable collision. Raccoons, I’ve discovered, are actually fairly large animals, especially when they’re serving as impromptu speed bumps.
I’ve always had a thing with rodents. Or, more specifically, my mom has always had a thing with rodents. Is fear of rodents genetic? Probably not, but watching my mom visibly wince at the mention of rats throughout my childhood could not have endeared them to me. Hamsters were out of the question; families who had pet hamsters were not to be trusted.
Mice in our house were never spoken of — they were disposed of, silently, by my father, whose normal levels of rodent-induced queasiness were considered heroic.
I understand that raccoons are not, technically, rodents. However, their rodent-y hands and collective sewer presence demarcates them, for me, as a part of the larger rodent group that I roundly despise. I felt oddly guilty about that raccoon, though. Where was he going? Why was he running so fast? Was he practicing for a marathon?
Having been raised in a house equal parts superstition and religion — whenever my dad sees a black cat, he encourages us all to pray a quick “Hail Mary,” utilizing the religious forces at hand to dispel of the seemingly unreligious bearer of superstition — I took the raccoon’s death as a bad omen.