Raccoons siblings and fighting

Since I lacked siblings, and had no peers that went along with me through school years, I missed out on the why and how to squabble over possession of things or doing things. At least I hypothesize that is so. The Asperger's thing probably factors in it too.

As I recall the past experiences of learning from others' squabbling, I now recall a particular kind of phenomenon about conflict. It happened in my last half year living in Old Topanga Canyon, alone, family gone, wife had finally fully dumped me. Yet I also had an interesting contractor job, job-shopper, job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, helping to develop a spacecraft camera system, in the early 1970's. But the loss of mate and family just really got me down, and eventually I no longer had a chance to get a non-contractor job at JPL as a result.

But this post is not so much about that. It is about the phenomenon of fighting over something.

It was quiet there in the canyon, living alone. There got to be a little game played, where I would hear some little noises out on the front porch; opening the door, I would find a group of raccoons, all in an arc around the doorway, nearly all of them sitting up on their hind legs, looking so cute. It was obvious: give us some goodies to eat.

I kept a sack of dry cat food there by the front door, which I fed to the cats outside. So I would reach in and take a handfull of this dry cat food, and toss it into the midst of the group of raccoons. Immediately they were down on all fours and wolfing down the goodies, very quiet and busy, nobody noticing anybody else. But then, as part of the ritual, when each could not find another easy morsel, there was always one piece of cat food left, right in the middle of them all. Then they all would erupt into a ferocious fight, huge fangs barred and making snarling growls and whistle sounds, like they were about to kill each other. All over that last little piece of food.

This went on awhile, a frenzy of violence in which nobody actually got hurt; then one of them would have gotten that last little piece of cat food. And suddenly they all were up on their hind legs in an arc around me, looking so peaceful and cute, waiting for me to toss in another bunch of pieces of dry cat food. It was an instant changeover, from melee of frenzied battle, to suddenly again sitting up so cute and peaceful begging for another handout from me.

It worked. I would reach in the bag of cat food, bring out another handfull of food and toss it into the their midst, scattering it. The busy finding and wolfing the morsels down then went on until just one piece was left. Somehow they always left the one piece, so as to put on the enormous show of ferocious battle amongst themselves, to determine who got it. Then that last piece was gone; and they were suddenly again sitting up on their hind legs looking so peaceful and cute, expectantly waiting for another handfull of food from me.

Apparently they had learned the trick long before, and taught next generations how to do it, by bringing the little ones along to watch.

When I would tire of it, I would toss a last handfull out and close the door. Soon I would hear them headed across the front porch and away, no doubt to do the same show at the next house.

The point here is that fighting, even the fighting of very large-fanged creatures emitting fearful noises, in a frenzied whirl of furry bodies too fast to keep track of, can be done just for the show, the attention; and, it got them all an easy meal, most every evening.

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