Friday, March 14, 2008

The coati mundi

Coati Mundi
Copyright Ken Harris 2007

One day my mother-in-law, Esther Heyser, made a foray into Ralph’s Supermarket, part of a grocery chain. As she stood in line waiting for the cashier, a moderately sized furry creature leaped into her shopping cart and started tossing canned goods and cereal boxes onto the floor in search of bananas and eggs.

Pandemonium. Uproar. Eeks and shrieks filled the air. Stomps and clomps reverberated as everyone in the near vicinity tried to remove themselves to the far vicinity. Everyone but Esther. Esther remained calm because she knew what the creature was. A coati mundi. She’d seen them in zoos and National Geographic magazines.

Obviously the coati was someone’s pet who had gotten himself lost and decided that his only reasonable course of action was to raid a supermarket. Since she recognized the animal for what he was, she volunteered to take him home with her and find the owner. Her decision saved the store manager the trouble of phoning Animal Control and he was very pleased when Esther paid her bill and took her groceries and new companion with her out to the car.

The coati mundi stayed with Joanne’s parents for three days, time enough for me to meet him and decide that he was not a restful creature. It’s really hard to concentrate on your book when the beast leaps into your lap, digs his hind feet into your belt, pries open your mouth with his front feet and roots around with his nose looking under your tongue for grubs. I threw him away as far as I could and he disappeared in a furry flash. I spent the next half hour spitting out coati mundi hair.

It wasn’t just me. He did that with all of us. He never found any grubs, but he always tried.

We never had trouble finding him. All you had to do was open the refrigerator door. This happened to Joanne. She opened the door. Instant coati raid. He’s on top of the refrigerator leaning in. Joanne shut the door and pinched his feet. He bit Joanne. She swatted him away and closed the door again quickly. On her nose. The furry flash disappeared.

He was with the Heyser family for only three days, but it seemed like decades. His owner reclaimed him and a great rejoicing was heard throughout the house.

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