Well, I'm about to head off to Florida for a week, where I will be cut off from all internet access. I don't know if Chris is doing playoff picks but just in case I'll take the Pack, Giants, Jets and Steelers. More importantly, I thought I'd leave you with a treat before I left.....
Ladies and Gentlemen, I think its time for The Squirrel Story.
Now, I know that some of you already know The Squirrel Story. I know that some of you will not feel I can convey the feeling of this story without the appropriate gestures, but I will do my best. I promised to tell it over winter break, so here we go....
We start out on a typical fall day my junior year in College. I've been living on the top floor of a very old apartment building in residential neighborhood, which, like all residential neighborhoods, has serious squirrel infestation problems. Prior to this date, I had occasionally noticed what sounded like scuttling-around sounds in the air ducts of the apartment. Apparently there was a hole in the building's awning somewhere near my room, which provided access into the ventilation system. Yes, it was disconcerting at first, but after a while I just assumed there was some varmint-type creature moving around up there and apparently building a nest. "Don't bother me and I won't bother you" was my primary line of thinking on the matter, mostly to the effect that the chief way to "bother me" would be passing away (and more importantly, decomposing) up in the ducts.
Now, this comfortable agreement went on for some time, and no one was the worse for wear, except for the occasional morning when I would wake up to the sounds of the squirrel screaming (yes, they scream) out on my windowsill, usually only a few feet away from my head. Everything changed, however, on one fateful day, when I came home from class around 2:30 in the afternoon and noticed there was a squirrel in the middle of the living room. And it was very much alive, just minding its own business. Further down the hallway, one of our metal air duct vent covers was lying on the middle of the floor. Evidently the squirrel had used its supernatural squirrel-strength to knock it down, giving him full access to the luxuries of our apartment. As I stood in the doorway, aghast, it looked at me and then slowly meandered down the hallway into my roommate’s room (I'll call him "Noah"). He wasn't there at the time, and neither was anyone else I knew, so it was me and the squirrel, one-on-one. I went over to Noah's door and shut the thing inside, leaving him to do whatever dirty business he needed to do in there, and leaving me to plan my next move.
My first attempt at rodent eviction was a good, ol' fashioned trail-of-breadcrumbs leading out to the back door, which I had propped open. He didn't take the bait, so I then decided that non-violence was not the answer. I was going to have to go in there and get him out myself. However, as we all know, squirrel-wrangling is really a team sport, so I attempted to find someone else who would assist me in my efforts. I could one find only one person who wasn't in class at that hour, who I'll call "Nick". Nick said he'd stop by on his way to class, but before he left his house, Nick's dad told him an assortment of horror stories about angry squirrels. Because of this, by the time he showed up, Nick was somewhat disconcerted by the whole idea.
Nevertheless, we pressed on. Our grand scheme was to upend our living room sofa and loveseat to block off the rest of the apartment, then chase the squirrel out of Noah's room, down the hallway, and into the kitchen, where our back door was located. Meanwhile, the squirrel had now lodged himself in between Noah's bed and window, so that only his tail was sticking up. Nick, who still evidently had his father's words on his mind, exclaimed "oh my god...its HUGE" upon seeing the tail (in truth, the bugger was actually somewhat less that normal squirrel size). After resettling ourselves, we began to move the bed, which the squirrel had likely befouled at this point (Noah didn't change the bedsheets afterwards, even after hearing what happened, but that's another story). Sure enough, after a bit of jostling, the squirrel shot out and sprinted ... directly into Noah's closet, where we head him hit something, hard (probably the mirror). Undaunted, he then pulled a 360 and ran through the correct door, down the hallway and into the kitchen, just as we had planned.
Well, almost. You see, upon entering our kitchen, you can either turn left, which will lead you to the back door, or right, which will lead you to our pantry and a dead end. That crafty squirrel decided to go right. Plus, from our vantage point we couldn't see exactly where he went after he turned, and he was out of sight by the time we got to the kitchen. So we now had an increasingly distressed squirrel hiding somewhere in the kitchen, with its million shelves, cabinets, and various other nooks and crannies. I decided to bring out my set of golf clubs, so we could examine each of these from a relatively safe distance. We first checked the pantry, which, despite the aid of the clubs, required bending over and sticking one's head into a small, confined space; knowing all too well that we were going to be victims of squirrelly death from above. But the squirrel wasn't there. We also had no luck with the other shelves, cabinets, or refrigerator (my idea, one that prompted Nick to point out that I wasn't thinking clearly anymore)
Finally we found him. He had squirmed underneath one of the cabinets and plastered himself against its back wall. The cabinet was attached to the wall, so we couldn't remove or jostle it much. But we could hit it. And we did, from every possible angle. However, the squirrel wouldn't budge - he was determined to stay plastered to that wall, come hell or high water. Unfortunately for him, "hell and high water" does not include a golf clubs, which we decided to use for the next phase of our attack. Of course, club selection became quite important here, as we had to determine the right prying angle. We settled on a 7 iron. Nick took first crack, but was unsuccessful. He was still quite afflicted with squirrelophobia, and refused to put his head close enough to the ground to see what he was doing, for fear that the hunter would become the hunted. So it was up to me. Risking a serious face-chewing, I bent down to guide the iron between the wall and the rodent. He didn't come off without a fight, but I eventually "persuaded" him to come of the wall, and he shot out of the cabinet and out the back door.
Our back door leads to the fire escape stairs in the back of the building, and we both cheered as he made his way down the first half-flight of stairs, free at last. But just before he left our view something unusual happened. Upon reaching the first landing, he did not continue going down the stairs. He jumped. From 3 stories up. Then we heard a noise, a noise that could only be described as "squirrel hits metal". Well, you see, my car was parked more or less directly under the fire escape. Uh oh. As we made our way down the steps to get a better view of the disaster area, I happened to see you-know-who running away from the car and up and nearby tree, apparently no worse for wear. And so ends the story from his point of view.
But he left us a souvenir. Four tiny dents in the hood of my car, each about squirrel-stride length apart. And they remain there to this day, as proof of that one memorable afternoon...