The Raccoon in the Trashcan

Sunday: My two brothers and I had a long, deliberate talk about childhood traumas. This is the first such conversation I remember having, at least in person, with both of them together. My older brother lives in northern Saskatchewan and visits every few years. My younger brother lives about an hour south of me.

Saturday, the day before: We went to Greenfield Village to watch historic baseball. At one point late in our visit, my younger brother J. and his youngest son had a snack, and the group of us (being, at that point, my brothers, my spouse V., our son, and my nephew B.) sat around a table outside. There was a garbage can nearby, but J. walked to a farther one to throw out his napkin.

A few minutes later, as we decided to leave, B. went to the nearer trashcan and threw away his garbage.

“Hey, there was a trashcan right here, J.,” I said. “Why didn’t you use that one?”

“Oh, that one’s closed,” he said, as if it was normal to close trashcans.

Sure enough, though, there was a cover over it, completely blocking the opening. The cover said, “Closed, Caution”. B. had lifted the cover to use it, then let the cover drop closed.

Someone (my older brother, I think) lifted the cover and said bemusedly, “Oh, there’s a raccoon in there.”

One by one, most of us looked: Sure enough, there was a raccoon sitting contentedly in the trashcan, looking up at us as if he had just had a pleasant meal and was waiting for his favorite program to come on.

We put the cover back down. I was going to take a photo, but I was worried that the raccoon might already be getting agitated about having been locked in the trashcan. As pleasant and relaxed as he looked, he could have turned violent quickly.

There are some things best left acknowledged and then left locked in the trashcan.

Saturday, it seemed like a randomly amusing story.

After Sunday, as the three of us siblings opened up our own communally closed trashcan and looked inside: It was well worth the consideration, well worth the examination, but after it all, there are things best left acknowledged and then left locked in the trashcan.

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