June 24, 2019
EP. 169 — The Raccoon Incident
An online slang dictionary editor and vicious rabid animal attack survivor who had too much cold brew and ritalin talks to Geth about dealing with ferocious and heinous things.
This episode is brought to you by Honey (www.honey.com/stories).
169 — The Raccoon Incident
[00:00:00] [PREROLL AD]
[00:00:45] CHRIS: Hello to everybody who’s grabbing that shotgun off the wall and getting down to business. It’s Beautiful Anonymous. One hour. One phone call. No names. No holds barred.
[00:00:55] THEME MUSIC: I’d rather go one-on-one. I think it’ll be more fun and I’ll get to know you and you’ll get to know me.
[00:01:07] CHRIS: Hi, everybody, it’s Chris Gethard. I want to thank everybody for listening to the show. You can hear in my voice I’m a little giddy about this one. What an interesting one. Everybody’s been listening. Everybody’s been so kind. I saw, you know, last week our episode was with our psychiatric professional and I was so happy to put that out there, and I was so happy to see that people felt like it was good. It was good and explanatory and destigmatizing towards mental health, and I saw a lot of mental health professionals give it a thumbs up and that made me feel really, really good. I always, it’s, it’s, you know, this show is entertainment and I love it, and every once in a while, it turns a corner where I think it maybe actually helped some people out. It means the world. This week’s episode, I don’t know if this one – maybe it’ll raise some awareness about some things, but I’ll tell you, it’s weird. I’m going to say something right now: I know it’s weird to say this one is a fun episode because it is about someone who gets attacked by an animal, straight up. But this caller is very charming, recounts this horrifying and terrifying experience with a very candid nature and with great charm. And we all know, sometimes this show is philosophical. Ponders life. This one is just a blow-by-blow “Yo, here’s what happens when an animal runs out of the woods. You gotta deal with it.” It’s kind of nuts. Pretty jaw dropping and weirdly fun. I am just so happy the caller is okay. Enjoy the call.
[00:02:42] PHONE ROBOT: Thank you for calling Beautiful Anonymous. A beeping noise will indicate when you are on the show with the host. [beep]
[00:02:49] CALLER: Hello.
[00:02:50] CHRIS: Hello.
[00:02:51] CALLER: Hello, is this Chris?
[00:02:53] CHRIS: Yes, this is Chris.
[00:02:54] CALLER: Oh, my God, I’m like so excited right now. How are you?
[00:02:58] CHRIS: How am I? I’m good. I’m good. Maybe a little manic, maybe a little bit on that manic side that I can get sometimes, but imma try to slow down and focus up. How are you?
[00:03:08] CALLER: Well, we are on my level, so let’s both try to take a breath.
[00:03:12] CHRIS: Good to know. Good to know.
[00:03:14] CALLER: I had too much cold brew and Ritalin and not enough food.
[00:03:18] CHRIS: Cold brew and Ritalin. I don’t consume either.
[00:03:21] CALLER: It was – I didn’t, I didn’t use to. But my therapist was like, maybe you’re not that depressed and you just have ADD and you can’t get shit done because of that. So we’re trying it.
[00:03:33] CHRIS: I, I feel like this is a common philosophy right now, ’cause I know a few years ago my doctor had a similar thought with me. But I was put on Adderall and unfortunately I went kind of apeshit and started eating it like jelly beans. So it didn’t work out for me. I hope you don’t do that.
[00:03:49] CALLER: I hate Adderall. I tried it a couple times recreationally in college and I don’t like that or cocaine or anything. I’m like a strictly weed sometimes person. And I was like, give me the child dose of like, the least, like, you know, upper-feeling one. And it really helped. But I just made this cold brew from Trader Joe’s, and I woke up late, blah blah blah, I went to my pottery class, and I poured too much in there, so I guess what I thought was like one serving was like two. So, yeah.
[00:04:27] CHRIS: Wow.
[00:04:28] CALLER: I tried, I tried to eat a bunch of crackers before I would talk to you, so it would like, even out. You know that weird, like, caffeine feeling when you haven’t eaten?
[00:04:35] CHRIS: Right, so you’re trying to get something in your stomach to suck up all the cold brew and Ritalin.
[00:04:41] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:04:41] CHRIS: Pretty on-
[00:04:42] CALLER: These gluten free sweet potato crackers better do the trick.
[00:04:45] CHRIS: I would say that’s – you’re pretty on brand for a fan of my work. Someone who has to rush some crackers down to soak up the Ritalin before we talk. That’s, that’s definitely in my wheelhouse, yeah.
[00:04:56] CALLER: Yes. Yeah. It’s also just like already been a week. So-
[00:05:02] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:05:03] CALLER: … I’m just trying to get through it.
[00:05:05] CHRIS: I should be – note for anyone listening in the future: You’re saying it’s already been a week. It’s Tuesday afternoon. It’s Tuesday.
[00:05:11] CALLER: Yeah. I’m on the East Coast, so it’s like, it’s almost 2:45.
[00:05:14] CHRIS: Mm hmm. Mm hmm. Got it.
[00:05:18] CALLER: And I should be working right now. But I work from home and I have two jobs, I’m a freelancer, and one of them that was my full time laid me off.
[00:05:28] CHRIS: Oh, I’m sorry.
[00:05:29] CALLER: But then … I mean, I was gonna quit anyways, but I was gonna wait till I moved back to California and then quit. But now I just don’t know what to do. But it’s a job that I was over anyway. But yeah. So they gave me four weeks notice, which is like, great, ’cause I know I get four more weeks of money, but also like, you guys really expect me to sit here and do a good job after you were just like “Oh, we’re gonna replace you with someone in the Philippines that we’re gonna pay four dollars an hour.” It’s just like … I dunno. Besides the fact that I’m losing my job, it really pisses me off that they’re only going to pay other people shitty amounts of money that they can’t even live on. Like if you’re gonna screw me over, at least give somebody else a living wage. It’s just like bullshit.
[00:06:17] CHRIS: Yeah that’s, that’s a, that’s a bad feeling. “I both lost my job and realized that it’s because my employers have sold their souls and given into like a weird modern form of borderline slavery of other nations that aren’t as well off as us.” That’s not good.
[00:06:34] CALLER: Yeah, I mean they literally, they let go me and my other coworker and they hired like four or six people in the Philippines that are working six or seven days a week, way more hours than we were, for like less money. And I just am like, you guys are fucked, like … really bothers me. This is the second job that’s done this to me, so.
[00:06:55] CHRIS: Not good. Not good.
[00:06:57] CALLER: Yeah. The first one was Uber. And everyone knows they suck, so … I wasn’t that surprised that this company did it as well, but that’s okay. I just got a raise at my other job, so I’ll just keep doing that and find something else on the side.
[00:07:13] CHRIS: Well, that’s good that you’re handling it well and rolling with the punches.
[00:07:17] CALLER: Well, you know, I sound like that right now.
[00:07:20] CHRIS: Right.
[00:07:22] CALLER: I’m trying. Yeah. I’ve still got three weeks left to work, so I’ve got some time to apply for some more jobs. Unfortunately, where I live, there’s not a lot of jobs available, so it’s, everyone’s like “Don’t move back there, there’s no jobs.” It’s like, “My jobs are remote, I’ll be fine.” And now I’m not, so, we’ll figure it out.
[00:07:45] CHRIS: All right. I trust you when you say you’ll figure it out. Okay.
[00:07:51] CALLER: I usually do. My mom was like, “I’m happy this happened.” Like, thanks, mom. I was like crying, calling her, and she’s like, “No, no. It’s gonna be good, you’re gonna be fine, you’ll land on your feet. That job was bullshit anyways, so.” My other job is really a weird job. I won’t call it out, but I will just say it’s an online slang dictionary that many people are familiar with that I work for.
[00:08:19] CHRIS: Oh, one of the many online slang dictionaries.
[00:08:24] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:08:24] CHRIS: Your anonymity is safe. We don’t know which online slang dictionary you work for.
[00:08:30] CALLER: I use a fake name at work anyways, so-
[00:08:32] CHRIS: Okay.
[00:08:33] CALLER: Not for my bosses, but people who – nobody would know who I am, so … Yeah, I’ve just been doing that today, I’ve been editing some … I’ve been deleting some things that offend me personally. Even though it’s not really part of my job. I have been, I have been doing that today. I mean, they’re bad. Some of the, some of the stuff on there, as you can imagine, is very, is really bad.
[00:09:02] CHRIS: Oh, I’ve been, I’ve been to the one site that you’re definitely referring to.
[00:09:07] CALLER: Yeah. Dictionary.com.
[00:09:10] CHRIS: Wait, what?
[00:09:11] CALLER: I’m just kidding, I’m just kidding.
[00:09:12] CHRIS: Yeah, you threw me for a loop there.
[00:09:15] CALLER: Sorry. Sorry.
[00:09:16] CHRIS: So you can go through-
[00:09:17] CALLER: I’m just having a day, I shouldn’t try to trick you.
[00:09:19] CHRIS: Oh no, it’s okay. You, you can go through and take out the particularly, the egregiously offensive stuff at that website.
[00:09:25] CALLER: Yeah, I don’t, I don’t do it just if it’s offensive, but if it’s like really racist or some of the weird sex ones that are like, you know, derogatory terms for, like, you know, any gender. But the ones that are like about assault, you know, a lot of them are basically describing assault, and so-
[00:09:42] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:09:43] CALLER: … those I’ll sort of periodically be like, “I’m gonna – you know, the world doesn’t need this, or this or this or this”. I’ll just do that.
[00:09:52] CHRIS: All right.
[00:09:55] CALLER: That – yeah. I, I talked with my, with my superiors and they said I could do that. I just don’t know if they know how much I’m doing it.
[00:10:03] CHRIS: Well, the world’s probably a better place, right? I get the sense that with that site, there’s probably a lot of people who post something there when they’re like sixteen and they’re angry and they’re trying to show off for their friends and then they forget about it.
[00:10:17] CALLER: Oh yeah.
[00:10:17] CHRIS: But then ten years later, the worst, the worst thing they’ve ever typed is still sitting out there for other kids to consume when they find it. So who gi-.
[00:10:26] CALLER: And usually they’re like, and they put their whole fuckin’ full name as their username, so just like, when they get googled for a job, it’ll come up and they’re panic-emailing us like, “Can you remove this? I don’t remember my e-mail and this has my whole name”, it’s like – I’m just like, sometimes, sometimes I’m kind of a jerk about it. Middle schoolers do it to each other a lot as like bullying. And I am not here for that. And so they’ll write in, I’ll get like a message from a kid that – The kid that did it, the kid it’s about, both kids’ parents, like a school resource officer and a principal, I’ll get like e-mails from everyone in one day, like, “Take this out.” And I’m like, “We’re so sorry, we’ll delete it” for the other people, but then the kid that did it, like, “I’m going to get in so much trouble” I’m like, “Yeah, well, you probably should get in trouble, like, this is not what the site is for, don’t come on here and do this again.” I’ll like scold them and help them at the same time. Just like, “It’s not cool, dude, like, don’t do that.”
[00:11:20] CHRIS: So wait. Hold on. So I have the full picture in my head, you’re talking about a situation where like a kid in 7th grade decides he wants to pick on another kid. Let’s say that kid – picking a random name, that kid’s name is like Frank, Frank Smith, we’ll use something really broad. So he’ll go on and he’ll make an entry in this slang dictionary with “Frank Smith. That’s when you suck shit outta your own sister’s butt.” And then they put that up there.
[00:11:48] CALLER: Literally yes.
[00:11:49] CHRIS: And then Frank, and then Frank Smith finds it and tells the teacher, and then everybody’s parents get called in. And then this one kid is like “I forgot my password and I dunno how to delete it. I’m sorry I said you suck shit out of a butt.” And then they’re all e-mailing you in a panic.
[00:12:04] CALLER: Mm hmm.
[00:12:06] CHRIS: And that’s part of your-
[00:12:07] CALLER: That’s a daily occurrence. That happens like multiple times a day.
[00:12:12] CHRIS: Is middle school – so middle, a large – What percentage of the user base on the site you work for would you say are preteens actively using it to fuck with each other?
[00:12:28] CALLER: I am about to find that out ’cause I just gave myself a raise and a promotion to a new position where I will be dealing with those kind of like metrics and doing more stuff on the site, but like … I can’t give you a good one, percentage, ’cause I’m not good at math, but a lot. Like it’s, I get a lot of messages from people like that or people who are complaining about like, alt-right definitions on the site. There’s like, the older people that use it tend to be a lot of like, alt-right, like, men’s rights activist creeps who put really fucked up definitions on there.
[00:13:00] CHRIS: Ugh.
[00:13:02] CALLER: And then people will e-mail me like “Somebody defined my name like this ’cause I, like, didn’t go on a second date with them” or something. And they’re on there like, “Mm, I’m gonna be mad.” It’s like, so stupid and I just like … Sorry, I know, I know you’re a man, but fuck men’s rights activists. That’s bullshit. And I can’t deal with it.
[00:13:21] CHRIS: Now wait, hold on a second. Hold on a second. Just because I got, just because I got… Oh, wait a second, is this real? That’s what happens when you – hold on a second. Harry just – hold on, first I want to finish my point. Just ’cause I got a, just, just because I got a, I got balls and a peen doesn’t mean you can, you’re like “Hey, I know you’re a man, but sorry. Fuck men’s rights activists.” Yeah, I’m with you. Not every man is like “Oh, yeah, no, men’s rights activists. That’s who I agree with. People who want to join very secretive niche subreddits and talk about killing people.” No, not that, I would – I would actually go so far as to say that my opinion on this topic … Ever since the lid kind of got blown on his stuff, I think probably like Elliot Rodgers was where it really kind of became a mainstream thing, the whole red pill men’s rights discussion.
[00:14:25] CALLER: Mm hmm.
[00:14:25] CHRIS: I actually feel so strongly, because I feel like I’m probably someone who growing up was – I probably would have been like a prime target to be groomed by that crowd, and I think they start with a lot of kids who are young, who are like twelve, thirteen years old. I was an angry kid who was scared to talk to girls and who felt like an outcast. And you look at a lot of those groups and I feel like a lot of those people are kind of groomed by, its like a, you know, like a fifty year old guy finding some teenager and being like “Yeah man, these women. The problem is the women.” And then they get brainwashed.
[00:15:02] CALLER: Yeah. That’s how it happens. And I would not believe that you were and I’m sorry I said it that way, but because of my day to day work, I see it so much that I just get like, I go from zero to immediately pissed when I think about it, so that’s what happened.
[00:15:18] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:15:19] CALLER: The other site I work for is like an online forum, and they … and my job on that site is to like moderate people who are violating our site policies, so I deal with a lot of that just from both positions I hold. And so, yes, I would, I’m always – I have to check myself on that, no, no offense to you, hopefully.
[00:15:42] CHRIS: None.
[00:15:42] CALLER: I didn’t assume that you were. But yeah, it’s just stupid because I’m faced with it so much, like, I have some friends who are like “People aren’t that racist, like, this shit’s not gonna happen again in 2020.” I’m like, “Dude, you don’t work at the Internet.”
[00:15:56] CHRIS: Yeah, you’re on the front lines.
[00:15:58] CALLER: Yeah. And especially ’cause I’m dealing with like, specifically deleting things that are horrible, so.
[00:16:05] CHRIS: And you probably see, it seems like there’s such a weird mix of, of emotional manipulation and, and mental illness-
[00:16:22] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:16:23] CHRIS: … and political manipulation and conspiracy theory and it all adds up into this very, very strange and dangerous mix.
[00:16:33] CHRIS: Yeah. And I mean, I don’t want to talk about Elliot Rodger, but I will say that I worked in Santa Monica when that happened, and it – I already knew about like men’s rights activists before that because like, there was this dumb show on VH1 called The Pickup Artist.
[00:16:48] CHRIS: I’m fam- The Mystery Method! Yeah.
[00:16:51] CALLER: Yeah. So like, a lot of that stuff they got was from that book The Game that that guy wrote and it’s like all about – that guy, he’s since sort of like retracted a lot of the things that he’s said, but-
[00:17:01] CHRIS: Yes. Neil Strauss. Neil Strauss.
[00:17:02] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah. And so I was already like, I had been, I had read The Game and I had like, I had done some research on it, and then I was working in downtown Santa Monica and I had left to go home early or something that day, so I wasn’t there. But all of my friends were calling me like, I was back in East L.A. by that time, but it was horrifying. And so, it just really brought it to the forefront, so I can’t tolerate it for like one second. You know, like, I’m just like “Absolutely not. You’re, you’re done. You’re canceled. You’re banned. Deleted. Which, you know, goes against my own beliefs about freedom of speech. But some things I just … that’s one of my no-nos.
[00:17:46] CHRIS: Once people are getting killed over-
[00:17:50] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:17:51] CHRIS: …craziness.
[00:17:53] CALLER: Or doxxed, like, people getting, women getting doxxed from men who are upset about how their date, their date went or whatever, like … Like doxxing is a real problem and I notice that happening on both of the sites that I work for.
[00:18:07] CHRIS: Yeah. It’s really scary. You got that, you got revenge porn, there’s a lot of ways that people can lash out and, and mess with your life if they’re mad at you on the Internet. Scary stuff.
[00:18:18] CALLER: It’s crazy.
[00:18:20] CHRIS: Now. I don’t know if it was Harry or Jared. It was Harry. He went to one of the, what I would say – I don’t know how many slang dictionaries there are online. But he went to one that I know, you know, I know we’re not naming names here, I would say it’s the most popular one. I don’t know.
[00:18:40] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:18:40] CHRIS: I don’t know the metrics. To my knowledge, it’s the only one that exists, so no offense to you if you work for a different smaller slang dictionary. He typed in my name. And I was shocked-
[00:18:50] CALLER: Oh no, I’ve never looked.
[00:18:51] CHRIS: I was shocked to see that something comes up, and I have to say it doesn’t make me feel great. When you-
[00:18:57] CALLER: Oh no.
[00:18:59] CHRIS: Now I’m, I’m gonna – How should this work? I’ll say the name of the site we went to and you just stay mum. You don’t have to reveal if this is the one you work for or not. Okay?
[00:19:09] CALLER: Okay.
[00:19:10] CHRIS: Okay. So he went to Urban Dictionary, longstanding internet tradition, right? Institution Urban Dictionary. When you type in Chris Gethard at the top there, the thing that comes up is an entry for ‘stand-up therapy’. And this is defined as “a stand-up comedian sharing various depressing personal problems instead of telling jokes” and then the italicized description is “Did you watch the latest Chris Gethard stand-up special? It wasn’t stand-up comedy, it was stand-up therapy.” Added by someone named Crafty Instigator on March 8th, 2018.
[00:19:50] CALLER: That’s not a very old one, okay, well …
[00:19:53] CHRIS: Pretty new.
[00:19:53] CALLER: That’s interesting. Yeah.
[00:19:54] CHRIS: Pretty deep into the career. I mean, that was after Career Suicide. Now, I don’t know if you work for that site, but if you could go and change that to Hannah Gadsby, that would be great. If you just switch my name out for Hannah Gadsby. She’s taken-
[00:20:06] CALLER: Oh my God. I love her.
[00:20:07] CHRIS: She’s taken the crown on that anyway.
[00:20:10] CALLER: I love her. Yeah, the thing is, you know, whether it’s that site or not that I work for. When it’s a public figure, it’s allowed.
[00:20:22] CHRIS: What?! What are we, what do you mean by that-
[00:20:27] CALLER: It’s media law, man. Public life.
[00:20:29] CHRIS: I’m over here trying to be a, a shoulder for you to cry on, someone you can lean on, tell me whatever you want. Every week on the goddamn phones, I open myself up to everybody, I’m just asking for one goddamn thing. No, I guess that makes sense.
[00:20:44] CALLER: I’ll make it, I’ll make it up to you.
[00:20:47] CHRIS: How, what’s- How so? What’s that mean?
[00:20:50] CALLER: I just think that you’re gonna like what I, what I wanted to talk to you about. I think you’re gonna really like this, this story.
[00:20:54] CHRIS: Oh. I didn’t realize you had a specific thing, I thought we were just chitchatting, okay. ‘Cause we’re 18 minutes in.
[00:20:59] CALLER: Well, I … Yeah, well, you’re gonna have some questions.
[00:21:07] CHRIS: [transition music] All right, everybody. We’re gonna pause because you may remember that I said in the intro, “Oh, it’s such a harrowing tale”, and we’re pretty deep, you’re going “Where is that?” Well, buckle up, it’s about to go down as soon as we get back. Listen to these ads, use the promo codes, and when we get back it hits the fan.
[00:21:24] [AD BREAK]
[00:22:56] CHRIS: [transition music] Thanks to all our sponsors. Now let’s, let’s get down and dirty with this call.
[00:23:03] CALLER: I just think that you’re gonna like what I, what I wanted to talk to you about. I think you’re going to really like this, this story.
[00:23:07] CHRIS: Oh. I didn’t realize you had a specific thing, I thought we were just chitchatting, okay. ‘Cause we’re 18 minutes in.
[00:23:12] CALLER: Well, I … Yeah, well, you’re gonna have some questions, so … Well you just caught me while I was like getting, I was like getting pissed at my job so I wanted to bitch about it for a sec. But I think you’re gonna like this event that happened to me in my life that has like changed everything since, in a lot of ways. So last summer, last July, I went for a walk in my parents’ neighborhood and I was attacked by a rabid raccoon.
[00:23:48] CHRIS: What?
[00:23:51] CALLER: I think you’re gonna like this.
[00:23:53] CHRIS: Why would I like that?
[00:23:55] CALLER: ‘Cause it’s a good story.
[00:23:56] CHRIS: Okay.
[00:23:56] CALLER: Because of how – I’m going to tell you how I like crushed it. I mean, I didn’t literally crush it, but I did fight it really hard, and it was like … Like they don’t, like rabid animals don’t just, like, run up and bite you and like run off. You can hear them coming before their teeth sink into your leg because they make like a horrific sound, and I was with one of my really good friends, just walking on a little trail like in, like, I live in North Carolina, it was like in a sub-, like a suburb, a neighborhood. Just like, not deep in the woods hiking, which is what I normally am doing. And I could not believe that of all the times I’m terrified of like a bear attack or something else happening to me when I’m hiking out six miles alone on the trail, I’m like a quarter mile away from my parents’ house and all of a sudden, like, I see something in the bush and I’m like: “That’s a raccoon, that’s weird, It’s 10:00 in the morning.” And then it immediately just like, came for me. And they run like, really fast. And I only had enough time, I sort of looked at my friend and I threw my phone at her? I don’t know why. I thought she didn’t have her phone. And I just screamed: “No, no, no, call 911!” like before it even got to me, ’cause I just like knew it was not going to be good. And … It, it launched up, I threw my leg up and it like got me in the calf and it knocked me down. It was probably like a 30, 25-30 pound raccoon, it was a big one. And it, it just would not let go. I mean, it had my leg like a dog with a bone and it was like shaking me, and I was punching it in the face and I had it by the tail and was like yanking it really hard and punching it and screaming. And I got it off me and stood up and it got me again. It bit me two or three times, I kept having to like, pull it off of me. And finally, I don’t know, I had this one moment of clarity where I was like, “I’m going to step into its face,” like, I have one shoe on, the other had come off ’cause I was thrashing so hard. And I just like stepped into its face and it bit the bottom of my shoe and wrapped its body around my foot, and for the first time in my life, I punted something. And I punted that raccoon as hard as I could. It landed like ten feet away in a creek, and it thought it had something, ’cause they’re crazed. And it like was attacking the shoe. And I, this is what I feel like my favorite part. It was like a horrible scene, but I was like on my hands and knees at that point, I’d like fallen to the ground, I’m on this gravel trail, and I – like, instead of seeing like any kind of like, God-inspiration or anything – I mean, I’m an atheist anyway. But I literally thought of that scene in Jurassic Park where Laura Dern is like by herself and her leg is hurt and she knows the raptor’s behind her, and she like says to herself, she’s like: “Run.” And she just has to like, run to that little shelter. You know what I’m talking about?
[00:26:46] CHRIS: I haven’t watched Jurassic Park in a while, but I feel like this is a movie trope I can imagine.
[00:26:51] CALLER: Okay, so it’s like, it’s my favorite movie, that’s why I know it so well. But I just like imagined Laura Dern and I ran like …I was running as fast as I could, but I was like in shock and like bleeding and had no shoes on. And my friend is calling 911 and there’s no signal and it’s Sunday in the Bible Belt and we’re like banging on houses, no one’s home. Finally, I saw a garage door going up and I just like ran screaming into people’s garage. I, I have no idea what that must have been like for them, but I was just like screaming, bleeding, high pitched, like: “I got attacked by a rabid raccoon, blah blah blah.” They’re like: “Are you sure it was rabid?” And I’m like: “Yeah, dude.” Like, definitely it was rabid. And the guy comes out with a shotgun and is like “I’m a wildlife biologist, you’re going to be fine. Where is it?” And he goes down onto the trail and he kills it. And I’m just like standing there in shock. Part of me is thinking about how I’m gonna get to go to the E.R. and that’s my favorite show and I was like, I’m gonna finally get to go to the E.R., which is such a weird thought to have in that moment. But it happens.
[00:28:00] CHRIS: What? What are you talking about?
[00:28:04] CALLER: I know. I’m sorry, okay, that’s just what happened. So, yeah. This random house that I ran to, the guy was a wildlife biologist, and he didn’t even live there. He was like visiting his friend.
[00:28:13] CHRIS: So his friend had a gun, he just went and got the gun and he blasted the raccoon?
[00:28:17] CALLER: He had a gun, and the guy’s old man dad had a gun, and they both came out with shotguns and went down the trail. And I was getting loaded into the ambulance and I heard a gunshot. And he came and told me that he had gotten it. ‘Cause I was really worried, that’s a trail that people walk on with their kids and dogs. And I was like, nobody can go down there, like, you guys have to get it. And the EMTs were like “I don’t think I would take a shotgun down there” and the guy’s just like, “I’m doing this.” And yeah, it was … insane. So then I had to go through, like, all the rabies treatment, and like, because of how hard I was fighting it while its teeth were in my leg, which is how I like to think about it, it did so much damage. So it took like five or six months to heal.
[00:29:08] CHRIS: Damn.
[00:29:10] CALLER: And just like in a, basically a cast that was like from my toe to my knee, that they would like unwrap twice a week to like, see how deep it was and like pack more stuff in there. And then my anxious mind is like constantly googling, like, “What if you – can you still get rabies even though you got all the shots?” Like, “If my leg, if my wound itches, is that a sign of getting rabies?” And they’re like, “It’s never happened. You got all the shots, you got it right away, you’re not gonna get rabies.” But I still, like to this day, if something is like weird with the scar, ’cause it’s still not totally healed, I’m just like, I will just immediately start googling or call up my wound care doctor and be like: “Dude, it’s itching again, there’s something weird happening,” and he’s like: “No, you’re fine, you’re fine. I looked at it.”
[00:29:54] CHRIS: How long ago did this happen?
[00:29:57] CALLER: Last July. So it’s been almost a year.
[00:29:59] CHRIS: Almost a year. Okay. Couple questions. One: Was the E.R. everything you dreamed of?
[00:30:08] CALLER: Well, not – no, because Dr. John Carter wasn’t there. But besides that … I’m a big Noah Wyle fan. I used to watch that show when I was a kid, and then I was really depressed last year and I re-watched it because I liked to have something to get into and there’s like 15 seasons. And I was like, “this is really like the best fucking show.” But still, I got there, and you’re on the gurney in the ambulance and they’re like “do you-,” they’re like, “you think you can walk in there or do you need to go in on the stretcher?” And I was like, “I think I need to go in on the stretcher.” Just ’cause I wanted to, which is kinda fucked up, but also, my leg was bleeding and it was like, I didn’t want to look at it. And I had the E.R. nurses in there cracking up ’cause I just like deal with everything with humor, and they were like “you’re gonna be okay,” and I was crying about my yoga pants and she was like “you can get, you’ll get another pair” and I was like “no, you can’t, because these were on the clearance racket at T.J. Maxx, like this is the last one that exists.” And my favorite shoes that the raccoon got were like the last ones in my size and they stopped making them. So it was just like to add insult to injury. The E.R. nurses were like dying over it.
[00:31:20] CHRIS: Yeah. Your shoes are riddled with, riddled with shotgun pellet down by the creek. Those shoes ain’t coming back.
[00:31:27] CALLER: Yeah, Exactly. Oh, yeah. I don’t know, I never went, I’ve never, I haven’t gone back down there. I’ve considered going back down there ’cause I’ve been in therapy. Actually, I was just listening to the episode you guys released last week, I think, and a girl mentioned that she had done EMDR for PTSD, and I’ve also done those acronyms for therapy. And it is really helpful. So I can take walks now, but I haven’t gone back there.
[00:31:53] CHRIS: Now you, wait, you, you’ve done, is it EDMR? EMDR?
[00:31:59] CALLER: EMDR.
[00:32:01] CHRIS: EMDR. You’ve done that in relation to the raccoon incident.
[00:32:05] CALLER: Yeah, I started going to therapy after that, which is-
[00:32:07] CHRIS: Of course!
[00:32:07] CALLER: … one of the silver linings of this attack, ’cause it’s been so great.
[00:32:10] CHRIS: Now I – from what I understand from that episode, that is, the idea with that is that you kind of deeply try to go back to that place. So you had a therapist walk you through a situation where over and over again you relive the horror of being attacked by a rabid raccoon?
[00:32:26] CALLER: Yup.
[00:32:28] CHRIS: Damn. Now, how bad are those shots, because I tell you, that’s the thing that you always hear from when you’re a kid. Anytime there’s an animal acting weird, your parents are like: “Don’t go near it ’cause you get rabies, you’re gonna have to get 48 shots right into your stomach.” Are those shots as bad as they say?
[00:32:49] CALLER: They don’t feel great, they don’t all go into your stomach anymore. What they do is like – I was in the ambulance, like, “why are you guys not giving me the shots?” So like, you have to get to the hospital, they like weigh you and, like, depending on where you’re bitten, they will give you shots in different areas. So you get the rabies vaccine that day, it’s called day zero. Then you get the immunoglobulin, which is what is, that’s the painful one, ’cause it’s thicker, so the needles are bigger. And they’re, it takes them a second to get it in there, it’s not like a quick shot. So I got one in each shoulder, one in each butt cheek, one in each thigh and then like five or seven all around the site of the bite, which I had deep puncture wounds, I had six deep puncture wounds that were-
[00:33:39] CHRIS: Sixty?
[00:33:41] CALLER: Six, six deep puncture wounds, Jesus.
[00:33:43] CHRIS: Oh, six deep.
[00:33:44] CALLER: They do have a lot of teeth, but there’s no way that bitch was going to bite me that many times. I was like, I will kill this-
[00:33:50] CHRIS: Wait, is a female raccoon called a bitch like a dog or are you just like insulting the raccoon?
[00:33:57] CALLER: I’m just insulting the raccoon.
[00:33:58] CHRIS: Okay, okay. Got it.
[00:34:00] CALLER: And here’s the thing: Now, after therapy, I can, I actually have some empathy for it. But at first I was just like, fuck that. Like, kill it. Like, it was so … It was just like so messed up because people hear about this story and a lot of my friends included who like, without understanding what had happened, I’m, people like – I’m one of the funnier people in some of my friend groups and they just assumed I was joking when I texted them and said “fuck, I just got attacked by a rabid raccoon.” And one of my friends was like “haha” and she sent like a raccoon meme of like, a raccoon like looking cute, like, you know, doing its hands like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons. And I was like, “no, this really happened.” And also their hands like, are not cute when you realize that their claws are razor sharp, and I have like claw marks all up and down my legs and arms. And like multiple bites. And their, their fangs are super long. Like, my puncture wounds were like three inches deep.
[00:35:05] CHRIS: Now that friend, did that friend, when you expressed that to that friend write back like “My bad. I guess I wasn’t, I guess I wasn’t thinking about – I just thought it was a funny meme.”
[00:35:15] CALLER: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, for sure they did. And one of my managers actually sent me like the same meme. And I had to like say “Hey, I’m not working for the next couple of days, ’cause this happened,” which is such a like, weird thing to have to tell people because it doesn’t sound real. And even when someone realizes it’s real, they don’t understand how like … how like vicious it was. ‘Cause it was like … People who are listening to this, if you’re listening still: Go onto YouTube if you want to hear some horror, and like just YouTube raccoon screams and listen to how they sound. It’s like a dinosaur growling and screeching at the same time, like, it sounds crazy. It’s unreal. I will never forget it. And for a long time, I was just like, how did it even make that sound? Like, it was wild. It was just a very weird sound. You know, that haunted my dreams until I got through therapy. I mean, I, I’m 33 and I feel really dumb about this but like, I do look under my bed to make sure there’s not a raccoon there, even though I know there isn’t. It’s just like, I still have to do that.
[00:36:29] CHRIS: You, how often do you look under your bed for rabid raccoons?
[00:36:33] CALLER: Every night before I go to bed.
[00:36:34] CHRIS: Every single night, you check your bed for presence of raccoons.
[00:36:39] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:36:39] CHRIS: Now, Jared has called up some raccoon screams. He says that he can play it for me and that you won’t have to hear it, ’cause I’m scared we’re gonna traumatize you.
[00:36:47] CALLER: No, no, you won’t. I do this to my friends, I make them listen to it. I’ve heard it a bunch, like, I probably heard, I guarantee you I’ve heard whatever he’s about to play ’cause I’ve listened to every clip you can find, so yeah, go for it.
[00:36:57] CHRIS: There’s also a lot. Seems like there’s a lot of raccoon scream videos on YouTube. Okay. So you’re sure this won’t traumatize you or bring you back to a bad place?
[00:37:06] CALLER: I’m not gonna like it, but I would rather hear it than be like, kept out of it.
[00:37:10] CHRIS: Okay. Okay. All right, so we’re gonna hear some of these raccoon screams and you’re gonna tell us if it’s accurate to the 30-pound raccoon that ravaged your leg.
[00:37:21] CALLER: Okay.
[00:37:22] [RACCOON SCREAMS]
[00:37:27] CALLER: Yep.
[00:37:30] CHRIS: So that-
[00:37:31] CALLER: It was, it’s pretty much exactly like that, but like, meaner.
[00:37:36] CHRIS: So that, that sounds like a crazy exotic bird to me, but that was the noise that the raccoon was yelling at you as it sprinted from the bushes?
[00:37:44] CALLER: It literally didn’t stop doing that the entire time, even while it, it – I know this sounds crazy, like, I’m on the ground on my back, its teeth are in my lower calf above my ankle, I’m punching it, I’m holding it by the tail and yanking it, watching its teeth go in and out of my leg as I’m holding it. It is making that sound the entire time and looking me directly in the eye.
[00:38:07] CHRIS: Oh, I don’t like this story. I don’t like this story.
[00:38:11] CALLER: I thought you were gonna love it.
[00:38:13] CHRIS: I mean, I love it. There’s a lot of things in my life that I love and don’t like.
[00:38:19] CALLER: Yeah.
[00:38:19] CHRIS: This story, oh my God. ‘Cause I mean, I grew up in New Jersey and there’s raccoons, but you only see ’em at night and it was, if you ever saw ’em in the day, it was known, like, quick, get away from it ’cause something’s wrong. They don’t come out in the day. You don’t-
[00:38:32] CALLER: It looked, it looked like something was. I mean, again, I saw it for like, like one second before it started to come at me, and in that one second, I just felt this like sick feeling. I just was like, something’s wrong, like. And I immediately turned to my friend and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to run from it, ’cause they’re really fast. And so I didn’t turn around, I don’t know. It’s weird how when you go through a traumatic experience like that or like a car accident or something, it’s like you’re – in the moment, it feels like it happens so fast, but later, when you think about it and think about all of the thoughts you were having during it, it’s like, how could I possibly have been thinking it sort of like this logically and chronologically in that moment while everything was chaos. But that’s how I remember it, like second by second, basically.
[00:39:23] CHRIS: Wow. And now let’s talk about rabies, ’cause I forget, I forget what – I was listening to a podcast. Maybe Radiolab, I forget, but they talked about rabies. I didn’t realize … Like when you get bit by an animal with rabies, it’s a race against time, because if it sets in, you die. Like there’s something like half a dozen or less recorded cases of a human surviving rabies.
[00:39:50] CALLER: It’s less than that. It’s like, I think there’s-
[00:39:53] CHRIS: Three or something, right?
[00:39:54] CALLER: There’s two or three and a couple of those … I’ve listened, there’s a This American Life about it, and-
[00:40:01] CHRIS: Maybe it was that.
[00:40:01] CALLER: … I think there also is a Radiolab. There’s like two different podcast episodes that are about that. And I had heard the one where the lady got bit and she had, she couldn’t get to a hospital that had the vaccine. I had heard that before this ever happened to me because I love this American Life and Radiolab. And also like, as a kid, I used to beg my mom to let me watch Stephen King movies, ’cause, I don’t know why, it was just like, I was like, you know, eight to ten and it was like the worst thing I could think of like, for me to be allowed. And she let me watch Cujo, which she shouldn’t have but she did. So I’ve always been, actually … I always have that in the back of my mind. And like you, I’m not really a dog person. I don’t hate dogs, but I don’t like dogs, and I don’t believe anyone when they’re like “he’s friendly” and like, just don’t let your dog off the leash around me, please. But it’s because of Cujo, I swear, ’cause the dog seems nice at first and then it’s just crazy. And when this happens, I, that’s why while I was in the ambulance I’m like, “why are you guys not giving me the shots?” ‘Cause I knew that you have to get it really soon. But you have 72 hours. And I got ’em like within two hours.
[00:41:09] CHRIS: That’s good.
[00:41:09] CALLER: … of the, of the attack. But yeah, it’s really horrifying, and – Oh, that’s what I was gonna say. The people that survived went through this thing called the Milwaukee Protocol, which sounds like a 90s Tom Cruise action movie, but it is this thing they came up with where they sort of put you in like a medically induced coma? And they figured out a way to, like, stop the progression of the virus.
[00:41:31] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:41:31] CALLER: But those people are not like guaranteed to, to live, like, basically they’re living my worst fear, which is like, “I’m okay now but like, at any time it could develop and I could die,” like, because there’s, it’s 100% fatal. If you develop rabies, there’s, there’s just like nothing they can do about it, so …
[00:41:50] CHRIS: That’s what I heard too, this thing about how … I think it was someone unintentionally fell into a coma and got a high fever and survived rabies, and now they try to, they can like in a last, last-gasp desperate effort try to put you in a coma, get the rabies outta you. But even then, they’re like “nah, you’re pretty much, you’re just dead.”
[00:42:11] CALLER: Yeah. It’s really scary, a girl died, like a 24-year-old nurse from Norway died a couple of weeks ago because she had been, I think, in either Thailand or the Philippines on vacation and picked up a puppy on the street and took it back to her hotel room. And it was biting playfully like a puppy would, it wasn’t like aggressive, but she got rabies and she died. Like …
[00:42:33] CHRIS: And it’s a particularly horrible death from what I remember from the podcast I listened to.
[00:42:36] CALLER: Oh my God. Of course I can imagine because I’ve done all of the googling, but it’s, it like … That’s the only part that makes me feel choked up when I think about it, ’cause I can deal with what happened to me, but like, I just think about how lucky I got because, you know, what if I had been out hiking somewhere? I mean, I frequently would be out in like the Los Padres National Forest, like three hours from L.A. hiking by myself when I was, when I was out in California and I … I just shudder to think what it would have been like, ’cause it looks just like it’s horrible. And you know it’s happening to you before it really sets in, like, you know what’s happening.
[00:43:16] CHRIS: Yeah.
[00:43:17] CALLER: And it’s just like … Thinking about it … I was about, I was going back in January to L.A. to visit some friends, and the wound was not like fully healed. It was like mostly closed and [??] over it. But like, it started like swelling and itching really bad on the way to the airport and I called my wound care doctor who was like this sarcastic, really funny doctor who – My mom went with me and she’s like, “why are you back there and they’re like digging around in your leg and everyone’s laughing,” like, ’cause me and the doctor are both funny and we’re having a good time. But I told him, I was like, “this is happening, I’m worried about it.” I sent him some pictures and he’s like, “I don’t think it’s anything to worry about, but I’m going to consult with the infectious disease colleague and then I’ll call you back.” So he calls me back, I’m still in the car on the way to the airport, and he’s like, “so they want to see you, like, as soon as you get back.” And I was like, “so that’s gonna be like 11 days from now. Should I just turn around and come now?” He’s like, “no, because, uhhh …” I was like, “are you about to say because if it is rabies, there’s nothing you could do?” And he’s like, “yeah, so I would suggest having like a fun vacation-
[00:44:25] CHRIS: Ohhh.
[00:44:26] CALLER: … and coming back. And I was like, I mean, I had to pull over. I like, lost it. Even though it’s unrealistic, like, I got everything done, right? I was gonna be fine. But my, just like, anxiety and like, you know, I got like really manic about it, in like a bad way. Like overly compensating. Like researching everything, like, I could not, I mean, I really was like “I’m going to I’m just gonna die.” Like, “I’m gonna go and try to have fun ’cause I’m probably going to die,” is how I felt. And … Yeah, that was so scary, it’s just ’cause you know there’s nothing they can do. So it’s, it’s so, yeah, it was messed up.
[00:45:08] CHRIS: That’s grim.
[00:45:10] CALLER: And I’m gonna have these fuckin’ scars forever. I mean, they’re, they’re crazy. When you look at my leg, it looks like I was bitten by something, you can tell it’s like teeth marks.
[00:45:18] CHRIS: It looks like you were attacked by a rabid raccoon?
[00:45:21] CALLER: Yeah, well, most people don’t realize that raccoon have, raccoons have really sharp fangs.
[00:45:29] CHRIS: [transition music] Let’s pause and note: This show is known mostly for people airing out their emotional scars. This person has actual scars inflicted by the unexpectedly sharp fangs of a raccoon, oh my God. We’ll be right back.
[00:45:45] [AD BREAK]
[00:46:24] CHRIS: [transition music] Thanks to everybody who advertises on the show, now let’s finish off this phone call.
[00:46:30] CALLER: Most people don’t realize that raccoon have, raccoons have really sharp fangs. But, ’cause I showed it to my friend and they were like, “it’s not as big as I thought it would be, but they are like bad scars,” and I was like “raccoons don’t have like huge like, [??] mouths, like they have small mouths, it’s just that the teeth are so sharp.
[00:46:51] CHRIS: Man.
[00:46:53] CALLER: So, yeah, the positive of this is that, like, I started going to therapy and it has made a huge difference in my life. And I mean, after I got through the sort of like PTSD thing, I’m just sitting there like, “yeah, let’s talk about my weird family problems and how my dad’s wife is only two years older than me and that’s weird” and like, so we’re like dealing with shit that I’ve been wanting to deal with for a long time, and it’s just like, I hate thinking this, but I also like thinking this, like, that rabid raccoon attack is like one of the best things that ever happened to me? Which is true. I mean, it also got me back on stage ’cause I used to do storytelling a lot and I’d been too depressed to do it, and so after I went through therapy, I went on stage and I did a story about the raccoon and I got like, really, I was really well received. And I’ve just been getting, I’ve just been getting up every month and doing storytelling shows and stuff like that ever since, and it has really given me the confidence. And people around town now know me. I went to a bar last night and a girl was like, “Hey, aren’t you that girl with the raccoon story?” I’m like “yeah,” and she bought me a beer. I was like, “cool.”
[00:48:11] CHRIS: I like that you found the bright side. That raccoon, it may turn out that raccoon gave its life so that you can deal with the reality of your father’s child bride.
[00:48:24] CALLER: She’s not a child, but yeah, it’s not the best. I mean, she is great, I love her. It’s just weird, you know?
[00:48:30] CHRIS: I know. I kid, I kid. I shouldn’t throw in the phrase child bride, that’s a very sensitive thing.
[00:48:34] CALLER: Oh, believe me, I used to say that. I mean, she, they did meet on the, on the Internet and he did bring her here from like another country.
[00:48:42] CHRIS: Okay, okay.
[00:48:43] CALLER: So it was a whole situation like that, which is, yeah, just … Now I have a whole bunch of family in the Philippines though, so that’s cool. And trying to learn Tagalog so that I can speak to her better because I like her. So, yeah, I’m trying to find the positive things in most things now, and I used to be like the biggest pessimist, and I just like … Yeah, I mean, that raccoon was like, I dunno, the Christ of my life, like-
[00:49:11] CHRIS: Did you say “the Christ of your life?”
[00:49:14] CALLER: Yeah, that raccoon, like, died for my sins and now I can like, be clean and be a better person, that’s how it feels.
[00:49:21] CHRIS: You’re comparing a rabid raccoon that, that attacked you and took off one of your shoes and then was was killed in a creek with a shotgun to Jesus Christ.
[00:49:34] CALLER: No, not exactly, I’m just being like-
[00:49:35] CHRIS: You just did!
[00:49:37] CALLER: I mean, I’m just saying it’s the Christ of my life.
[00:49:41] CHRIS: So you’re comparing-
[00:49:46] CALLER: Okay, fine, I did it. I’m an atheist and I feel bad if anyone is offended by that. I didn’t mean it offensively, but-
[00:49:50] CHRIS: Oh no, no one’s offended. I, I’m milking it for the laugh but everyone knows what you meant. This mart-, the raccoon was a martyr that helped you unlock some new phases, some new positivity in your life that you never saw coming.
[00:50:04] CALLER: Yeah. Also, it’s just like … It, now that I can talk about it without getting upset, it’s like a great story at parties and on first dates. Yeah, it tends to, I mean, people tend to be pretty interested, ’cause I think everybody has like a sort of in the back of their mind fear of rabies that they don’t think of it as like a real thing that would ever happen. But like 40,000 people a year go through rabies treatment-
[00:50:33] CHRIS: Oh, that sucks.
[00:50:33] CALLER: … and a lot of people die because a lot of countries don’t have the vaccine.
[00:50:37] CHRIS: That sucks. So you’ve, you said you’ve told this story on first dates.
[00:50:43] CALLER: Yeah, I did.
[00:50:46] CHRIS: It’s, I guess it’s one of those things, too, where it’s like then if the date’s going well and it gets to the end of the night and you want to keep the party going, you can just be like, “hey, you want to come back to my place and I’ll show you my raccoon attack scars?”
[00:51:00] CALLER: I just call it my raccoon leg.
[00:51:02] CHRIS: You have said that to someone, “do you wanna see my raccoon leg?”
[00:51:06] CALLER: Yeah. Not on a date, but I have said that. I said that to someone in my pottery class today.
[00:51:11] CHRIS: Someone in your – What happened in the pottery class that it led to you offering to show them your raccoon leg? That’s a sentence I never expected to say in my whole life: “What happened in your pottery class that you offered to show someone your raccoon leg?”
[00:51:27] CALLER: Well, the pottery class is another result of the raccoon attack, something I like always wanted to do and started doing afterwards ’cause it was like a seated activity that I could do. Because I couldn’t stand on my leg without it being elevated, like I usually would have to sit with it elevated, but once it started to get a little bit better, I could just sort of sit and I would like have my one leg out on a stool. And so when you go into class, they’re like, “what made you take the class?” And it was obvious that something was wrong with me ’cause I had this big cast on and like a separate stool for my leg, I was like, “everyone’s gonna be wondering, I’m just gonna tell them.” And the girl that sits next to me, we’re in our third round of classes together, and I just stopped wearing the compression sock. I was supposed to wear it until May. So like the first week of June, I was like, “yes, I’m not wearing this thing,” ’cause I don’t know if you’ve ever tried one on but they’re surgical compression socks are like really tight and just like annoying to get in and out of. And I’d have to wear ’em under all my clothes, and so I got to wear shorts today without the thing. And she was like, “oh, you don’t have to wear your thing anymore,” I was like, “yeah, you wanna see my raccoon leg?” And the whole class came over and took a gander.
[00:52:37] CHRIS: A gander.
[00:52:39] CALLER: I’m in North Carolina.
[00:52:40] CHRIS: That’s fair, no, I don’t judge. I’m not judgin’. It is what it is. So, so everybody’s going around and there’s one, there’s one person that’s like, “oh, you know, my, my kids are, my kids are finally off in college, so I can get out of the house more and I always wanted to, I wanted to take a class like this.”
[00:52:58] CALLER: Mm hmm.
[00:52:58] CHRIS: And someone else was like, “oh, you know, I already, you know, I paint, but I wanted to maybe expand the mediums I work in.” And then you’re like, “so I was walking down a gravel path. I hear a noise. I toss my friend to my phone and a raccoon attacks my leg and now here we are making pottery.” And then the teachers like, “okay everybody, let’s focus back up, can we … Let’s not focus so hard on the raccoon leg, can we, every- We’re gonna try to make, everyone, we’re gonna make a small vase. Small vase, small vase day. Ashtray day.”
[00:53:31] CALLER: Yep. Well, I mean, the teacher was like, really interested. She was like, “okay, well, once I do the demo, I’m gonna come and help you, and also I want to ask you some questions about this raccoon attack if that’s okay.”
[00:53:42] CHRIS: I hate to laugh.
[00:53:42] CALLER: But she’s really cool, so it’s fun. No, you can. I, I laugh about it all the time, like-
[00:53:47] CHRIS: ‘Cause what else are you gonna do?
[00:53:47] CALLER: … who would think about Laura Dern running from a rabid raccoon? Like, I don’t know, but that’s what happened in my head. I think about Laura Dern a lot, I guess.
[00:53:55] CHRIS: I tell you, I, when I lived in Brooklyn, I’m walking home, I parked my car down by the river one day, I lived in Greenpoint. I don’t know if I’ve told this story on this show. I’m walking home, and it was a block, I was the only person on the block. I’m walking back to my house. It gets pretty desolate down there by the water. And I see this – I thought it was like the biggest rat I’d ever seen. So I like, it was on the sidewalk, so I went on the other side of the street and, but it was just walking. I looked over, it was a possum. It was like a gross-ass possum just walking down the sidewalk like, like a human would, like it was just on its way to the G train, like everybody else in Greenpoint. And I immediately was like “that, that’s a killer animal.” And I have, every instinct I had was like “get the fuck away from this thing.” Now I’m gonna be all scared of rabies. I’m gonna be all sc-, all day I’m gonna be scared of rabies.
[00:54:47] CALLER: Okay, here’s the thing, though. I got scared of a possum last night just because it surprised me when I was walking to my car. But possums, because of they have just like weird body temperature, and I can’t remember if it’s a little too low or a little too high, but it’s super rare for a possum to have rabies because their body just like can’t host it. So possums are fine.
[00:55:04] CHRIS: That doesn’t change the fact that they got that freak face, though.
[00:55:08] CALLER: Yeah, but they’re mostly, you know, I don’t know. I, I understand being scared, I mean, I was on a walk a couple of weeks ago and I, I didn’t know what I saw, but I saw something pop up by the sidewalk and I started screaming and running and scared the shit out of these other joggers. And I turned around and it was a groundhog running on the sidewalk away from me ’cause we had, like, scared each other. And so I try to be like more mindful, I’m like, “they’re not all raccoons, like, not everything’s gonna pop out and get you.” But, yeah.
[00:55:36] CHRIS: No, but you know what, that’s fine. Fuck that groundhog. You’ve been through a lot. Scare the groundhog away, I’m not worried about the groundhog’s comfort level at this point. You gotta take care of you.
[00:55:46] CALLER: I know. I was just like, how good did that look to anyone else who saw me scream and run and then turn around and see a groundhog on the sidewalk running away from me as well. Just like, I wish I’d been the bystanders ’cause that must have been like an amazing moment. But yeah, I’m, yeah, I’m really – I have a hard time, I mean, like … If it’s nighttime and I’m walking into my apartment, I will definitely like … I’ll just, I have a taser now and I’ll be scared when I walk past the bushes, I have to think to myself, like, “there’s not a raccoon in there, there’s never been a raccoon in there … it’s not there.” And when I lived in L.A., there was raccoons in our trash all the time. And in New York, I used to live in Brooklyn also. And I would see, I lived near Prospect Park and so I would see raccoons there, walking home and stuff from the R, and I never thought twice about it. And … yeah, now it’s just like, it’s one of those weird things that I never thought I would be particularly afraid of and, yeah, it’s hard. I haven’t, I’ve been on one hike since, I, it’s really hard for me to hike still.
[00:56:51] CHRIS: Yeah. No, it’s true. I ap- It’s a crazy story and so specific and you’re laughing about it and that’s making me feel okay laughing about it. But I can imagine that that’s a really, that’s a truly traumatic thing. It’s no joke.
[00:57:05] CALLER: Yeah, it was. I mean, there’s definitely some funny things about it for sure, and I am like totally good with laughing at it. I really feel like that’s like the best thing you can do about most things. But it’s just, find a way to find the humor in it, and also just like … I was not a person that used to say like, “oh, I’m like grateful for things now” ’cause I just was always such like, a pessimist. And it’s not that one thing that changed me, you know, going through therapy has made a big difference, but like … When I think about, when I see like other people who have been attacked by a raccoon, which is, there’s a lot, I’ve done a lot of the research, they can really tear you up. And it did tear me up, but I was just like, you know, what if it had gotten me somewhere, like, you know, in my neck or something, like, their teeth can really rip you open, like, you could have gotten, or got me in the wrist or like made me lose a lot of blood and I couldn’t run or something. Like, just the way it happened was such a weird, like, almost choreographed dance-fight between the two of us that I … I mean, I kicked it in that face, in the face as hard as I could with those Jessica Simpson running shoes and I thank her for that, even though she probably doesn’t know the good she’s done. But, yeah. It’s just, I dunno. I feel like I’m trying to look at things more positively and realize how lucky I am. Even in like, the worst situation, so. Made a big difference there.
[00:58:42] CHRIS: Yeah. Now we have about seven minutes left. And I gotta … I get – here’s the sense I get. What happens if I ask you what’s the second craziest story you got? I feel like you got one.
[00:59:01] CALLER: Okay. Yeah, sure. My friend is always like, “if anyone would get attacked by a rabid raccoon, it would be you, all the weird shit happens to you.” I’m like that one friend, apparently. I don’t know, a lot of weird things have happened to me. I … I would say my other like weirdest experience was, I used to do costumes for TV and film, and I worked on a movie that Mickey Rourke was in and working with him was like the worst and weirdest experience of my life other than the rabid raccoon. It made me quit film. I quit. I was like, I’m not doing this anymore. It was so crazy.
[00:59:46] CHRIS: Do you understand the ludicrousness of what you just, the sentence you just said? “Working with Mickey Rourke was the worst and weirdest experience in my life outside of getting attacked by a rabid raccoon.” That’s a thing you’re able to say, kudos to you. You’ve lived a lotta life.
[01:00:02] CALLER: Yeah. Yeah. I mean there’s, you know, you, you work in like film and TV, there’s people who are like, great to work with, and then there’s like, when someone’s a diva on set, it can be bad for everyone. But this was like the craziest thing. I mean, I’ve just like never – Once you’ve witnessed Mickey Rourke try to light a cigarette and his lighter doesn’t work the first time and he takes off all of his clothes except for his underwear and socks in a residential street, punches a picture car and dents it, runs off, picks up a C-stand – which like, you know, the thing they put the lighting stuff on – throws that, hits another car … And this is a movie that like a teen, like a Disney star was in, so there’s like kids in the neighborhood that heard it was filming, like with signs, like, to see the teen guy. And they’re just like, Mickey Rourke is just fully like, like losing it in front of everyone. And I can’t remember what Bruce Springsteen song it was, but he would make them play this one Bruce Springsteen song before every take. And so that was happening. And he’s lift-, take- ripping his clothes off.
[01:01:08] CHRIS: Just for the legal protection of this show I’m just gonna also add, allegedly. Allegedly.
[01:01:12] CALLER: Allegedly. Allegedly, yeah.
[01:01:13] CHRIS: Allegedly that all – I wasn’t there.
[01:01:17] CALLER: It happened. But yeah, allegedly. It allegedly happened.
[01:01:31] CHRIS: Good timing on that. So you witnessed a rampage. You witnessed a rampage.
[01:01:36] CALLER: More than one. But yeah, that was my favorite. It was like that every single day. And I was like, “I’m not doing this anymore, I quit.” I left. I was like, “I’m getting on a plane and I’m not doing this ever again.” That’s the last thing I did in film.
[01:01:51] CHRIS: I once acted on a set with someone who I was a huge fan of. And the experience was so bad and the person’s behavior was so crazy that I actually … kind of consciously went in a different direction than acting. I’ve done some acting since, but I was like, “I don’t need to be around people like this, this person is insane.” Throwing temper tantrums, shutting down the whole set, yelling at the director, giving other actors notes, like, throwing actual temper tantrums if someone else got a laugh, it was wild. People get away with a lot.
[01:02:29] CALLER: And it’s the worst when it’s someone you like, and you’re like – if you’ve gotten so excited.
[01:02:32] CHRIS: Oh, mine was someone I admired.
[01:02:35] CALLER: Same, I mean, I, that’s happened to me with other people. I, I – My sister and I always had this like weird affinity for Mickey Rourke, but, so I was like, like excited about it, but, you know. Like a little bit like “no, this could not be good,” and I was, my suspicions were correct. But it was definitely really interesting and it made me take my life to a new career that I like much better. I mean, I liked doing film, but like 16, 17 hour days are, it’s crazy, like I was just like, “I don’t love it that much.” So, I mean, you’re -sometimes when people are like the focus on set and they’re the actor, it makes you feel like it’s like they think they’re this like superhuman that’s better than everyone, and that’s the dynamic I don’t like. Which sounds like you experienced that too, like, you’re making it bad for everyone.
[01:03:24] CHRIS: Oh my God, it was nuts. It was nuts. Most actors I’ve met: hardworking people who want to pay their rent and make their health insurance.
[01:03:36] CALLER: Yes.
[01:03:37] CHRIS: And then I’ve met a handful where it’s like, oh, you’re in this for all the wrong reasons. Your life is one of total ego chasing, pure isolation, constant validation needed, just a true neediness that never goes away. And I don’t think I want to, I don’t think I want to dive deeper into that. I think maybe I’d rather have a smaller career where I can hold my head up high than keep chasing whatever got – keep chasing the path that got you there, because whew. Not good. Not good.
[01:04:05] CALLER: Yeah. That’s why I was like, creatively, if I’m going to do something, I won’t – I’ve never tried my hand at stand-up, people have tried to get me to – I like storytelling because I can be funny but I can also be like vulnerable, and the format is easier to me, like the idea of writing jokes really scares me. But because I left film and I’d always wanted to be in the entertainment industry, I was like, “let me do something where I can make money for myself and then I can do this other thing on the side that’s important to me and like helps me connect with people.” And that’s why I love your podcast so much, ’cause it’s just like, I’m a stranger getting in front of other strangers telling personal stories. And it’s just such a cool connection to be like, “yeah, everything is crazy in the world, and we’re like, we’re just like two people talking right now.” And this is really cool.
[01:04:57] CHRIS: Yeah, I’m psyched we got to talk. I st-, when I, I stopped improvising, I was, I did all the storytelling for about two, three years before I really dove into stand-up. That was my path.
[01:05:10] CALLER: Maybe I’ll try it.
[01:05:11] CHRIS: Someday. I mean, you seem like, I gotta say, you went through a traumatic thing, but I gotta say, you come off like a pretty fearless person. That’s your energy, it’s, you seem like a person who’s ready to dive into life. It’s a good quality.
[01:05:24] CALLER: That is what I try to project, Chris.
[01:05:27] CHRIS: Mission accomplished. Now listen-
[00:05:29] CALLER: It’s not always there, but I’m trying.
[01:05:30] CHRIS: You’re nailing it. Listen, we’ve got 30 seconds left.
[01:05:34] CALLER: Okay.
[01:05:35] CHRIS: There’s really nothing we can do about getting that stand-up tragedy bullshit off of my name on Urban Dictionary?
[01:05:43] CALLER: Well, I can tell you that you, you or anyone else can write their own definition about Chris Gethard. And you know, maybe they can right your wrong.
[01:05:53] CHRIS: Beautiful Anonymous listeners, take to Urban Dictionary and please redefine my standing and image on that site. I can’t only show up as a representation of shitty, non-funny stand-up.
[01:06:05] CALLER: Yeah, I mean I would love to, but we don’t write our own definitions. And that’s maybe or maybe not the site I work for.
[01:06:11] CHRIS: Maybe, maybe not. Hey, this was a hell of a talk, I’m glad we got to have it. I’m so sorry for what happened to you, but I’m glad it, it allowed us to talk because you really, I love, I love your energy and everything you had to say, and thank you for talking.
[01:06:28] CALLER: Thanks, Chris.
[01:06:34] CHRIS: Caller, thanks for letting us know about the harrowing experience that involved that raccoon. I hope your, hope the PTSD fades away and you aren’t constantly checking for raccoons for your whole life. And thank you for being so open and honest and somehow charming and funny while telling us a tale that is terrifying. Thank you so much to Harry Nelson and Jared O’Connell in the booth. Thanks to Justin Linville for all your help in my life. Thank you Shellshag for the music. You wanna help Beautiful Anonymous, go to Apple Podcasts. Rate. Review. Subscribe. Helps a lot when you do. Thanks so much for listening. See you next time.
[01:07:09] OUTRO MUSIC: Kiss me, face to face.
[01:07:23] CHRIS: Next time on Beautiful Anonymous, we’re talking about grief, loss, parents and kids, all the things that might put us in our heads.
[NEXT EPISODE PREVIEW]
[01:07:33] CHRIS: So far, 8800 attempts.
[01:07:36] CALLER: That’s pretty staggering. That’s a pretty high number.
[01:07:39] CHRIS: It’s cool. It’s cool.
[01:07:40] CALLER: So, okay, so, yeah. So, I’ve had a thought like, what would I talk about? So 2018 was like the best year ever. Loads and loads of good stuff happened, like I hit thirty, I bought my own place, I booked my wedding, I adopted a cat … I, you know, went to these awesome gigs and all this kinda stuff. It was just the best – I’ll throw in a “blooming” – it was the best blooming year ever.
[01:08:08] CHRIS: Okay, okay.
[01:08:09] CALLER: And then 2019 rocked around and mid-January my dad passed away-
[01:08:17] CHRIS: Oh, I’m sorry.
[01:08:18] CALLER: … which was a bit of a stunner. Yeah, yeah, thanks. It’s a complicated thing. I’ve had a good relationship with him. And long story short, that’s actually how I got into listening to your podcast.
[01:08:34] CHRIS: That’s next time on Beautiful Anonymous.
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