Where the wild things are

The Upper West Side — Downtown is more suitable for the untamed.

The Upper West Side is a charming New York City neighborhood with brownstones, prewar apartment buildings, tree-lined streets and Central Park. We have everything needed for city living at its best, and still, it’s relatively quiet for Manhattan. Our pocket of the West End Historic District is far from exciting like other parts of the city, or the Upper West for that matter, so when a crime or the unexpected occurs, it’s worth mentioning.

Recently, my husband and I returned to our apartment from an out-of-town wedding around 1 a.m. As we exited the livery cab at the corner of 88th Street and West End Avenue, I detected movement out of the corner of my eye. Turning slightly, I saw a large furry creature digging like a rabid madman in the corner trash receptacle. Then I saw another! At first, I thought that I’d seen a couple of dogs, or perhaps large cats. But I was wrong.

In a split second, one leaped onto a tree, immediately followed by the other. These weren’t cats or dogs. One scurried up the tree trunk, while the other stopped, posed, and stared in our faces as we attempted to take photos to remember the moment. The masked beastie looked at us as if to say, “Hello, welcome to my tree. I’m your new neighbor.” These animals were wild indeed—they were raccoons. Apparently, the four-legged unfriendly critters have found a home on the Upper West Side. Not sure what they’re thinking. Downtown is more suitable for the untamed.

Just a few nights before, the police captured another wild animal on 89th Street. This one was larger in size, also unfriendly, but with less fur—it was a totally naked man. Surrounded by the NYPD during the interrogation process, the forty-something handcuffed male stood unashamed and vulnerable with all parts exposed. It wasn’t even unusually warm that evening, the heat wave had already passed.

What was his excuse? Perhaps he was heading back from a quick illegal dip in the Hudson and his swimming trunks floated off. Or, maybe he felt the need to make a statement about bottomless men, since topless women are considered legal in Manhattan. The man in the buff didn’t seem drunk, mentally ill, or rabid — and the raccoons didn’t either.

For more about New York, follow me on Twitter, or on Tracy’s New York Life.


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