So, thirty-nine is a few days away, then this countdown to forty thing gets REALLY real. I’d planned to write a post about goals, hopes, fears, and lessons learned but there were a couple of issues:
- It was turning into an epic-length post and it probably needs to be chopped into some shorter, more coherent posts.
- It’s been a frustrating few weeks, nothing major; just enough that, when combined with a slight case of birthday dread grumpiness lead to a very salty post, so I’ll come back to it when I’ve had an attitude adjustment.
(Actual editing note from original post)
Instead, I decided to search for, you guessed it, more perspective. The golf cart wasn’t quite doing it, nor was the candle situation. Some thing with a bit more punch was needed. It was time for… the squirrel.
I guess I should probably add some context now.
This all happened when I was living in my first post-college apartment, working at my first adulty-adult job. It was a third floor walk-up one bedroom (the apartment, not the job) and I loved it (once again, the apartment, the job was more of a mixed bag). It had a little balcony on the front and back and because of the way the buildings were laid out I didn’t share my landing with anyone. Probably because third story walk-ups aren’t super desirable when it comes to moving in, carrying groceries, and so forth. I had nice neighbors, for the most part. The other part will probably be a post down the line. I felt like I was definitely doing, and even succeeding at, the whole grown-up thing.
One night, as I was settling in, I started to hear a skittering noise above me. As I didn’t have upstairs neighbors, this was mildly concerning. I kept hearing “skitter, skitter…THUD.” I checked, nothing was inside the apartment so I figured some sort of nature must be in the attic. I didn’t have access to the attic, which was fine with me. I’m more of a “you stay out of my house, I’ll stay out of yours” kind of girl when it comes to nature. I called the front office the next morning. They said a few buildings were having a squirrel issue and they’d add mine to the list to be looked at. I congratulated myself on yet another successful bout of adulting and that was that.
Nope. Not. Even. Close. Whatever the people who were contacted by the front office did, it was less a deterrent and more a sign to the local squirrel community that there was an all night squirrel rager going on every night. I got kind of used to hearing skittering and thudding. However, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t getting more and more concerned about the continued presence of what I could only assume were very persistent (and at least mildly concussed at this point) squirrels. I made a few more calls to the front office and was told there was absolutely nothing to be concerned about. I guess they thought I was concerned about the squirrel concussions rather than the actual presence of squirrels and they knew squirrels couldn’t get concussions?
This went on for a few weeks and in the meantime a friend had come to stay with me while she did an internship for school. Even though the space was tiny, we were on slightly different schedules and it was a lot of fun to have her as a roommate again. Then, one day I had to leave work early with a raging fever and sore throat. I dragged off to the doctor and was informed that I had strep. I headed to the pharmacy to pick up antibiotics and other necessities and was looking forward to just collapsing on the bed when I got home. As I was wrapping all of this up, I got a call from my friend saying she was back at the apartment, and was there anything in the linen closet in the hall that could possibly be making a banging noise? I kept towels, sheets, and my winter clothes in that closet, so it was pretty unlikely. I told her I’d be there in a few minutes and had the sinking feeling that the strep diagnosis might be the high point of the day…
Back at the apartment there was the now familiar skittering and thudding. Instead of being overhead, it was now in the closet, and it sounded just about as delighted as I was about this turn of events. I called the front office, yet again, and asked if maybe now was the time to be concerned about the squirrels? They agreed that maybe there was a cause for concern and they’d send someone up to look, but the closet had to be empty. I countered that this was problematic as angry squirrels had become a recent addition to that closet’s contents. They stated again that they couldn’t possibly assess or correct the problem unless the closet was empty. I inquired as to how exactly I was supposed to empty it. They suggested banging on the door to scare away any new residents of the closet and I might want to move fast before they built a nest. Awesome.
So, my friend and I armed ourselves with a frying pan and a broom and put on oven mitts. At that point, my downstairs neighbor came up to borrow or return something and unknowingly walked into Squirrel Watch. She was the adventurous sort (seriously she looked, and acted, like an adult version of Pippi Longstocking) so she signed on for operation closet clearing with the helpful suggestion I might want some garbage bags at the ready for the items we were about to remove from the closet. I looked at her questioningly and she replied with a terse, “Trust me on this.”
We banged on the closet door screaming suggestions that any occupants of the closet might want to vacate at this time. Once we were fairly sure it was clear, we grabbed our respective squirrel deterring devices and opened the door. Apparently the squirrels decided they needed a condo/bathroom to recover from their all night ragers. There was a hole about a foot across that had been gnawed out at the back of the closet and the situation inside wasn’t pretty. Let’s just say the garbage bags were absolutely needed and my winter wardrobe took a not-insignificant hit. We got the closet emptied in record time and slammed the door. The maintenance guys from the front office showed up and asked why we’d opened the closet door if there were squirrels in there? Sigh.
They agreed the current situation was on the problematic side and said they’d be back in the morning to repair the hole in the closet and deal with the squirrels. My wonderful neighbor stopped back by and said I was welcome to hang out at her house while they fixed the squirrel damage. I was too tired and feverish to do more. We double bagged the closet contents and decided to deal with it the next day and I went off to bed.
The next morning, my friend headed off to her internship, I let the repair crew in, and told them I’d be downstairs at my neighbors. They said they’d stop by and let me know when they were finished. I chilled with Pippi (not her real name, I just really want to make sure you have this mental image) and consumed copious fluids. After a while, there was a knock on the door, they were finished with the repairs, my linen closet was now hole-less, clean, and most importantly- squirrel free. I trudged back upstairs, Pippi decided to come with me to see how the repairs had gone. I can not stress strongly that everything I’m about to write is completely true.
We walked into the apartment and over to the closet. Pippi was behind me and we opened the door, so we could see the
freaking ginormous hole freshly repaired (and thankfully clean) closet. Then from behind me I hear,
“Oh, holy shit!”
Pippi had a vocabulary that could euphemistically be described as colorful, which was always a little wild given her resemblance to one of my childhood literary heros. She came up with phrases I’m sure never crossed Astrid Lindgren’s mind. I was pretty unfazed by what she said, it was fairly tame, honestly. So I replied with,
“I know, right? It’s insane they made a hole that big!”
To which she replied:
“Oh, no sweetie, that asshole is on your bed.”
I peeked around her, and it turned out the squirrel was indeed on my bed. He looked pissed. I guess we had interrupted his nap time. Total pandemonium ensued. Pippi snatched the broom and went roaring into battle screaming at me to open all the windows and doors. The squirrel, sensing impending doom coming for him in the version of a twenty-something Pippi Longstocking spewing obscenities made the decision to run under the bed and take refuge in the box springs. Did you know squirrels can bark? I learned that that day. The more you know, right?
I stood in the doorway now armed with a frying pan as I watched Pippi scream,
“Come out you motherf&*#$%!” (among other things… she was In. The. Zone. which was impressive, how often do you need a zone to cope with surprise squirrel?)
She was jumping on the bed and brandishing the broom. The squirrel was holding his ground. I was seriously ready to throw in the towel, close the bedroom door and declare it the squirrel’s room and wish him great happiness. I went to grab the phone to call the front office, or Ranger Rick. I wasn’t really sure at that point. The squirrel took his opening, streaked out of the room and out the front door and did a majestic dive off the third floor deck. It seemed to occur to him about halfway down he wasn’t a flying squirrel, but he still managed to tuck and roll and tore away as Pippi screamed threats after him.
Excitement over, we took my surviving clothes and linens off to a laundromat that would do your laundry and charge you by the pound. Totally worth it. Every few weeks after that, an acorn would hit near me as I walked to my car. I never saw who threw it, but I knew.
This episode left me with a fairly intense distrust of wildlife, especially squirrels, and it presented my family and friends with a theme for every card and gag gift opportunity for the rest of my natural life. You really can’t put a price on that, or so they tell me. It did provide me with a bar to judge things by. As long as these recent frustrations and this birthday remain free of squirrels, surprise or conventional, it’ll be okay. That’s squirrel perspective for you. There’s also probably something to be said about acorns, but I’m not sure what it is…