The Day the Squirrel Got In
I like squirrels. They are living paradigms of mischief.
I also have a particular fondness for those occasions where animals get into human places, like when a dog gets into a school playground and anarchy breaks out. A clever child will leave a couple of doors open to be sure the dog gets into the school building, runs around excitedly in the halls and classrooms and offices and ends up licking the headmaster’s face. They can’t even keep a dog out! Viva la Revolución!
Imagine my excitement today then, when a squirrel got into the apartment.
I’d been baking a cake so things were already teetering on the edge of madness.
One moment there was no squirrel. A moment later there was a squirrel. It was as simple as that.
A squirrel! A squirrel indoors. A flippin’ squirrel — the outdoors being his normal preserve — indoors now with all the people things. A squirrel indoors. What will they think of next?
To make matters more exciting, this was one of the rare albino squirrels we have in Montreal. A proper spirit animal if ever there was one; a totem of mayhem; a familiar of full-blown devilry.
He was a real phantom: ghost-white, pink-eyed, and sitting on my chaise like he owned the place.
He looked at me, trying to ascertain what I would do next.
I looked at him, doing much the same.
This was quite the meeting of minds.
As honored as I was by his visit, I’d have to get him out. I couldn’t share my home with a squirrel. I’ve had flatmates before and I know how it goes. He’d be eating all the nuts and berries no matter how clearly I labelled the containers. He’d be wearing my slippers and smoking my pipe and making lengthy international phone calls to his grey relatives in the States and his red ones in Europe. Before you knew it, he’d be bringing weasels home to dinner and letting them use our bathtub.
No. The line must be drawn somewhere.
I lunged with a beach towel in an attempt at netting him, but he coolly sidestepped the danger, nimble as a squirrel.
No good. Think, Robert, think. Put that British state education into action.
Let’s see. The only animals I’ve escorted from my home of late have been spiders, for which I used the classic glass-and-paper maneuver.
Well it was just a question of scale surely. A perspex bowl and a record sleeve later and I had the blighter.
He stomped about furiously under the dome, pink eyes blazing with the vitriol that only an incarcerated squirrel can summon.
I marched him onto the balcony. Arrivederci, Nutkin.
At this point I’d normally drop the spider into the abyss, safe in the knowledge that a skillful spurt from the spinneret will save her. To my knowledge, squirrels don’t have such abilities. Not ones for web-spinning, the squirrels. They’re more at home obsessively hoarding acorns and forgetting where they buried them.
I briefly considered dropping him off anyway. He’d given me quite the runaround. Could I do that? Perhaps I’d make like William Shatner booting that Klingon into the lava flow. “I… have had… enough of you!”
But, as I say, I like squirrels.
This is how I ended up chauffeuring a squirrel downstairs in the lift.