ONCE UPON a time there was a raccoon named Rosie. Her father always used to praise her rich, lustrous coat. Her mother always used to say, "Make something of yourself. Be something."

While her brothers and sisters were being something more than a nuisance to householders from Cleveland Park to Wheaton, nuzzling and knocking over garbage pails, Rosie always remembered her mother's words. She wanted to really be something, even more than the tip of a Daniel Boone hat like her Cousin Rocky; more than a tail on a 10-speed bike like her Uncle Robin. Even, maybe, more than a collar on a raccoon coat, like her Great-Grandmother Ruby.

So it's really no surprise that Rosie Raccoon discovered Neiman-Marcus.

Ed Scott, Neiman-Marcus building engineer, first noticed signs of a raccoon at the Chevy Chase store while the building was under construction. Bill Bartreau, the store's security officer, tracked some unladylike foot-prints on the mall under the escalator and into the ladies room. More raccoon prints have been spotting countertops, and at least one salesperson has reason to believe that a raccoon has come to rest - on more than one occasion - among diamond engagement rings in the fine jewelry department.

According to store manager Anthony Harriman no one has actually seen the raccoon. "We are sure it is here. But we don't know where," Harriman said last week.

The store is considering setting traps with peanut butter to catch the animal and release her (or him) unharmed in a more, well, suitable place.

Certainly not Neiman's fur department.

Sorry, Rosie.