It’s been said that a wise man knows his limitations. While not quite ready to claim any discernible level of wisdom, I will say that I am well aware of many of my own limitations.
For instance, I am a giant wuss.
Oh, I’m not afraid of everything, I suppose, but I am deathly frightened of, well, nature. See, I don’t care much for it. I don’t like the dirt, I’m not a big fan of the aromas and I am absolutely terrified of most of the creatures native to the wild — and, when I say, “wild,” I’m not really referring to lions or polar bears. No, I’m afraid of rabbits and deer ... and one particular raccoon.
This is not your garden variety raccoon. No, this fuzzy creature of mayhem towers over others of his species and delights in nothing more than scaring the pants off an unsuspecting weekly newspaper editor as he leaves the office late at night.
I’ve named him Leviathan, and he has become my nemesis.
That’s not a term I throw around loosely. I’m a get-alonger, always giving a person the benefit of the doubt until they do something to me individually, or to those I love. But Leviathan is not human, and the animosity he has shown me, I assure you, has been completely unprovoked.
It all started one night last spring as I was sauntering out to the trash can with a bag of crumpled-up failed efforts at columns (could you even imagine the stuff that doesn’t make the cut?). A slight rustling sound from the foliage behind the trash can caught my attention, and I warily peeked my head around to determine the source of the noise.
Certain my mind was just playing tricks on me, I proceeded to toss my trash bag into the can and turned to make my way back into the former offices of Coastal Point Headquarters. Just as I began my retreat to relative civilization, another noise grabbed my attention — this one more forceful, and with a great deal more authority.
Uncertain about the condition of my pants after that thunderous sound, I spun around and stood eye-to-eye with a beast so immense, and so awe-inspiring, I wasn’t sure whether or not to turn and run or face down my apprehensions and stand my ground.
I suppose I chose the latter, since I was frozen in fear.
Leviathan must have been feeling charitable that evening, because he stared at me just long enough to announce his presence, turned and retreated back into the wetlands. I can’t swear this on a stack of Bibles, but I’m pretty certain he winked at me before he left — his way of sending a little message that I was now completely under his control.
Our little encounters continued throughout the spring and summer, as he would rise from the weeds each time I would go to my car at night, make a little eye contact and retreat with a smirk on his face. Each time I would be reduced to psychological surrender, and each time I would head to my car or back to the office more full of rage than the time before at the thought of being emasculated by a raccoon.
Yes, it was becoming quite personal.
I told my grand tales of Leviathan to others in the office, but I could tell they weren’t buying my stories. One night, as Shaun Lambert and I were leaving together, I heard the familiar sound and pulled Shaun to Leviathan’s domain with a mixture of fear over seeing the grand beast, and the delight of having a witness, racing through my veins. Alas, it was just a few normal-sized raccoons, and Shaun had a field day watching them and commenting how cute they were.
I began to believe I was just imagining the grand raccoon, much like those dreams I have where a leprechaun in a lavender teddy and high heels crawls through my window at night with a butter knife clenched between his golden teeth and ...
But I digress.
My very real fear is Leviathan, and the havoc he creates when I walk outside at night. I’m just not made for this nature stuff — especially when it includes a 300-pound raccoon with an obvious thirst for the blood of achingly-handsome bald guys.
When I left the United States Marine Corps, there were three things I promised myself I’d never do again: run unless I was being chased; dig a hole to go potty; and take a field shower where another man dumps a bucket of water over my head. I should have included something about facing dangerous enemies.
Of course, I knew nothing about Leviathan back then.