Just when the world needed a viral distraction, a raccoon decided to scale a Minnesota skyscraper. The creature’s journey and persistent peril streamed live and was tweeted about incessantly throughout the day Tuesday, leaving everyone with questions: Will he fall or won’t he? Is he a he or a she? Am I a terrible person for assuming the raccoon is a he? Why do people keep calling him or her a “trash panda”? Isn’t that a slur in the raccoon community?
But there was a more important question to be asked: When did raccoons learn to climb tall buildings like varmint versions of Spider-Man, and what, exactly, are these dodgy-eyed critters plotting?
I don’t trust raccoons. They have done nothing to earn my trust. In fact, I once had a run-in with a trio of the trash-hungry mammals. They were rude and bullied me. More on that in a moment.
But, first, the St. Paul raccoon. It managed to climb more than 20 stories up the face of the UBS Plaza tower, across the street from Minnesota Public Radio’s newsroom, stopping a couple of times on a ledge to nap or engage in some perverted raccoon grooming.
As news of the wall-crawler spread, Twitter users launched the hashtag #mprraccoon, and global productivity came to a screeching halt. Foolishly, humans turned the raccoon into a social-media sensation, and the coverage was fawning.
A report on National Public Radio’s website began: “High above the bustling streets of St. Paul, Minn., among monoliths of concrete and glass, a daring climber has defied the odds — and the altitude — to capture a city’s heart.”
The raccoon was described as “death defying” and “a hero.” People shared superherolike drawings they sketched of the raccoon. As the four-legged assassin began a slow descent Tuesday night, a breathless world prayed for a safe return to Earth.
And when the bloodthirsty demon turned around and made it all the way to the roof Wednesday morning, where it was thankfully captured by authorities and, hopefully, spirited away to Guantanamo, the world rejoiced.
WAKE UP, PEOPLE!
That raccoon is obviously highly trained and up to no good. Raccoons are a big enough problem on the ground, but if they have now developed skyscraper-climbing technology, what’s to stop them from stealthily breaking into our workplaces and slaughtering us like furry ninjas as we coo and swoon over their adorableness?
Do not let these animals fool you. They despise humans — except for our sweet, delicious trash — and will cut you if you so much as look at them funny.
It’s difficult for me, at least on an emotional level, to recount my worst run-in with raccoons. But for the sake of everyone’s safety, I’ll summon the courage.
It was late and I was sound asleep, the windows open to the cool night breeze. A loud rattle, like empty cans hitting the ground, drew me from my slumber.
I thought it was a neighbor taking out the trash. But then I heard it again. And again. It was coming from below my second-story bedroom.
I recalled that I had left a garbage bag just outside the back door, figuring I’d take it to the trash can in the morning. Something was getting into that bag.
I walked out on the balcony and looked down. Raccoons. Three of them. Big and broad-shouldered.
I briefly considered going downstairs, shooing them off the back stoop and properly disposing of the garbage they had feasted on. But that sounded scary, so I did the next most logical thing. I grabbed a full roll of toilet paper from the bathroom, went back on the balcony, leaned over the railing and hurled it at the invading scavengers.
In my careful planning, I imagined the fear in their beady eyes as they saw this light and in-no-possible-way-dangerous projectile of fluff heading their way. It didn’t work as I had hoped.
The roll of toilet paper hit the biggest of the three square in the butt. He — I’m assuming it was a he because I sensed toxic raccoon masculinity — didn’t budge but did turn and look up at me, as did the other two.
I never knew raccoons could laugh. But laugh they did. Then returned to disemboweling my garbage bag, though not before the big one whose butt I gently jiggled with the toilet paper roll shot me the most ferocious stink eye I’ve ever witnessed.
I closed the windows, returned to bed and pulled the covers over my head. That was two years ago, and my self-esteem has yet to recover.
So please don’t talk to me about how fun it was to watch the Minnesota skyscraper raccoon. To me it was a horror show, and I was, without an ounce of guilt, rooting for Team Gravity.
And you all had best follow suit. They’re coming for us, I tell you. We’re the garbage now, and these mask-wearing, freakishly athletic trash pandas (yeah, I said it) will kill us all if we don’t take quick action.
To halt the raccoon uprising, we must immediately coat all of our skyscrapers in a thick layer of Crisco. And every able-bodied American should carry an anti-raccoon weapon, preferably something a bit more lethal than a roll of toilet paper.
Trust me, you don’t want to be laughed at by raccoons.
It will haunt you the rest of your days.
Rex Huppke is a Chicago Tribune columnist. Readers may send him e-mail at rhuppkechicagotribune.com.