Friday, March 4, 2011

I Hate Squirrels. And They Have All Gone Crazy

In my neighborhood, something is happening to the squirrels. They have gone insane. No creature that is not on a meth binge should be able to move that fast. They literally whiz around like little grey blurs and then stop. And then they watch me. And then they start their crack-fueled scampering again, and they’re gone.

It’s probably pretty obvious that I don’t like squirrels. I categorize them as level 2 Domestic Enemies. As a species, I guess they’re fine. They’re sort of cute, even though you can’t pet them and I’m pretty sure they’d bite you if they could.

In the town where I grew up (Princeton, NJ) there were a million squirrels and they were all very different. Brown, red, grey, black, big, small… Like an 80’s era Bennetton ad but for tree rodents. The story behind this was that a very old professor had been an expert, a squirrel scholar if you will, and when he died – they just opened the door to his lab. Then all the crazy varieties of squirrels just ran out onto campus and into town and began their slow and deliberate take-over. (At least, this is what my parents always told me, so read with a few grains of salt.)  They were obviously experimented on and are now all fluffy-tailed evil geniuses. There’s no other explanation for what’s happened to the real estate prices in my town since the early 90’s. It has to be the squirrels…

She thinks her children are
little terror suspects. Stupid infidel!
But I’d almost rather have those squirrels than the ones that live in my neighborhood. There’s something very wrong with them. Where I live, the squirrels are fat, over-entitled little bastards. In the summer, they raid my garden. They steal my tomatoes and strawberries the second they reach perfect ripeness. Imagine waiting patiently for the very first strawberry of the season. The whole family is excited for that first berry, which we all cherish and savor.  For days, I tell the children, "not yet, it's not perfectly ripe.  It's worth the wait!"  Then imagine watching a squirrel pluck it, take a nibble and then toss it over his shoulder like a spent Pall Mall butt, muttering in Squirrelese: “Meh. Last year’s were better.” And don’t even talk to me about tomatoes. They stole dozens of them, only to take one bite and leave the rest to rot.

In the Fall, they become manic and obsessed with collecting food for the winter, particularly nuts.  Like a sorority girl on holiday . . . or Ryan Seacrest, they must have nuts. You constantly see them zipping around with nuts in their mouth (TWSS)*.

In the winter, they’re supposed to be quiet and snuggled up under their fuzzy tails in their little tree houses (which my children inform me are called “dreys”). Aren’t they supposed to get thinner in the winter? Isn’t there less food around? I mean, at a minimum the smorgasboard that is my vegetable garden is shut down. And yet, they are fatter. I expect my dear neighbor, the newly retired and adorable Mrs. P, the animal lover, is secretly feeding them table scraps, knitting them sweaters, and buying them tiny diabetic testing supplies.

So the first inklings of springtime do not find the squirrels in my neighborhood subdued and scrawny after a long, hard winter. They’re fighting fit (or fat) and ready to party. In years past, their favorite form of springtime entertainment has been to hide nuts in my porch planters and then wait for me to put flowers in them.  Before I can wash the dirt off my hands, they come and dig my flowers up by the roots. Then they laugh. I can see them staring at me on warm sunny days, waiting for me to plant some petunias so they can kill them for sport and then flip me a tiny rodent finger.
We seriously own
this book.

And whatever spring feverish urges are causing the squirrels to race around my yard in their hormone-fueled frenzy has made them crazy. And by crazy, I mean fully insane-in-the-membrane/real-housewives-of-the-treetops crazy.  It also means they have lost any semblance of respect for me. I am a human. I mean, they should at least consider that in a contest of bigger and stronger, I’m going to win. But they don’t care.

We even bought a book to help us defeat them. It didn’t work.

Things came to a head this past weekend when I saw one jump from a tree branch onto the railing of our deck. I looked at the squirrel and he looked back at me. I opened the door and walked out. He didn’t move. “SCAT!” I hollered. He still didn’t move.

Then that little bastard looked me square in the eye and put his hands on his hips. And it was ON
“Oh OK. You’re a Disney squirrel? You have an attitude? You have something you want to say to me?” I walked right over to him and he didn’t move an inch. He just stared right back me with anger burning in his beady little eyes. “What? What is it?”

That’s when he started cursing me out in squirrel. But I'm not taking that from a squirrel so I read him the riot act about my tomatoes and how I wasn't his damn grocery store.  That made him mad.  He squeaked a couple of words that I can't repeat because this is a family publication and then he shook his fist at me.

Oh no he didn’t. So I countered with: “You want some? COME ON.”

Then he slapped me across the face. So I slapped him back. Then he slapped me again except this time he used his claws and it really hurt, so I slapped him so hard he fell off the deck. But then he hopped right back up on the railing and put two of his wee little claws in his mouth and whistled. Then a huge swarm of like 300 squirrels came surging onto my deck and attacked me. Some of them had painted their faces blue and were screaming battle cries in Scottish. Some of them were wearing hand-knitted sweaters.

"NOT WITHOUT MY FREE NUTS!"
I’m not going to lie. It was pretty ugly. The squirrels won the day, but only because there were so many of them. And they were on fortified meth.

Obviously most of that last part about the slap fight and the Braveheart battle was made up.  But the squirrels in my neighborhood are a-holes and that's the truth.  Also true? The increasingly warm temperatures and coffee grounds from the compost pile have made them act totally insane.    

And maybe me, too.  But that's what happens when furry creatures try to grab my tomatoes (TWSS).
*That's what she said.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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