So this is weird.
I met this morning with a representative from the company that handles my company’s benefits administration. Because our lot was full she had to park on the street, which meant that after an hour she had to go out and move her car.
As soon as she left, my little squirrel friend showed up at the front door, wanting to be fed.
“My little squirrel friend” is not a euphemism. I really do have a squirrel...ah, familiar I guess is the word, that lives in the tree outside my office. And I have trained him to take walnuts from my hand. So, he usually rolls up once or twice a week, and I open the front door, and he stands on the threshold and takes a walnut piece from my hand. Then, because I don’t have time to hand-feed him each piece, I toss a handful of walnuts next to the door, under the full-length glass window, where he can eat them at his leisure. Well, as much leisure as a squirrel is capable of, I guess, what with the whole darting to and fro thing they all seem to got going on. Sometimes, he will stand on his hind legs and scratch at the door for a second handful, which is really fucking cute.
Once, while I was feeding him by hand, the door slipped a bit and this startled the squirrel, and he jumped. And seeing him jump startled me. And when I started, he made a move as if to run and hide inside. And I, seeing him feint toward the inside of the threshold, let out a high-pitched “Oh!” and motioned with my hand to block him from coming in, except that I then immediately withdrew my hand, because a scared squirrel is a likely-to-bite squirrel, anyway, the squirrel, who I call Tony, figured out that he didn’t really want to go inside, and he took off and spent a week or two regaining his l’il squirrel composure before coming back.
That is the only weird thing that has happened until today.
So Tony shows up while the rep is parking, and I feed him a walnut, and then I throw a handful of nuts as usual, only I toss them further away from the door, out on the sidewalk, so that Tony wouldn’t get too freaked out when the rep returned.
After several minutes, when the rep has not returned, I look out my window, and I see her standing in the street next to her car, waving her hands over her head and mouthing the word “Help!” She then points to the squirrel. Then she mouths, even more emphatically, “Help!”
Well, when I walk outside, she starts explaining to me, in a very excited way, that this crow on the telephone wire above her head was cawing and wanted to possibly get the squirrel, and the squirrel wouldn’t move, and she has a terrible fear of squirrels. A terrible terrible fear of squirrels. In fact, I think she said a deathly fear of squirrels.
Now, I can understand not liking squirrels, because in a way they kind of are rats with a better wardrobe, but to be afraid of squirrels? Really?
So when I escort her inside, she starts telling me, a little breathlessly, what is basically a traumatic squirrel incident from her childhood, to wit: that when she was a little girl, they had chickens, and goats, and dogs and cats, and she loved all the animals. And also that she was a tomboy, and her grandfather bought her a BB gun and taught her to shoot tin cans off a fence. But then one day, a neighborhood boy convinced her that what they should really be shooting at, is squirrels. So, she goes along with him, and takes a shot at a squirrel, but when she does, the squirrel rears up on his hind legs and looks at her, and then starts chasing her. She drops the rifle, screams and runs, and blah blah blah, ever since that day, voila! Irrational fear of squirrels.
Now, growing up in the rurals of the Hoosier state, I’m quite familiar with your lesser varmits: your squirrels, your raccoons, your badgers. But I hadn’t heard such an interesting critter-related story since a friend from
I shit you not.
So, the point is, the rep lady’s squirrel story made me curious about this childhood of hers.
“That’s quite a story,” I said. “Where did you grow up?”
“Yes. Um hm.”
“I thought you might say someplace in the south.”
Okay, so, about 20 minutes later she has to leave to make her next appointment, and she wants me to escort her back out, because Tony hasn’t left yet, because I have only given him one handful of nuts, and he wants more. So the rep stays inside, and I try to shoo Tony away from the door. Except he doesn’t know that’s what I’m doing. I’ve never tried to shoo him before, I’ve only ever tried to coax him toward me, so when I try to shoo him, he keeps jumping to the left or right and looking at me as if to say “Stand here to get the nuts? No? Okay, stand here to get the nuts? No? Alright, how about here to get the nuts?”
Eventually, I back him toward the curb, and finally, he shoots me a look of complete squirrel exasperation, and turns away and runs…right under the rep’s car. And that’s where he stays for the next ten minutes, while I escort her slowly out the door, and across the sidewalk. Before she would approach her car, I have to get down on my knees in the street and assure her that the squirrel was not near her driver’s door. I told her that as soon as she started her car, that the squirrel would run away, and in fact that is exactly what happened. And all the while I was doing this, she was admonishing me not to laugh at her, which I did not. I did not. I assured her that we all have our fears, and that lots of people do not like squirrels, and that I myself do not care for snails at all. At all.
I saved the laughing for after she left, at which point I went into the lunchroom and told the entire story to anyone who would listen. With large gestures.
Have a good weekend, readers. And for chrissakes, watch out for the wildlife.