Friday, September 24, 2010

Nothing Says I Love You Like a Dead Squirrel

My dog Sweetie just brought me a dead squirrel, and I thought back to this essay I wrote a few years ago. Eat your heart out, New Yorker, for not publishing it.

I can sniff out an urban legend or an asinine chain letter from a mile away. When I walk in the woods, I don’t worry about porcupines getting scared and hurling their quills at me, nor do I fear being rendered unconscious in parking lots by robbers wielding ether-filled perfume bottles. My life got no better or worse when I deleted instead of forwarded an e-mail from his Holiness the Dalai Lama with his “Instructions for Life.”

So this latest yarn had a big stink: a woman takes her almost-new car to the dealership, and the mechanic tells her that squirrels have chewed through the engine’s wiring and she’s lucky the car didn’t catch fire. A day and a big fat check later, she steps out of her car at home and a rogue band of squirrels viciously attack and gnaw her ankles almost down to the bone.

I didn’t believe it for a minute and was amused by the vision of the attacking squirrels – it sounded so Monty Python-ish. It wasn’t quite as funny as the one about a company called ManBeef, from which you can order succulent human flesh, but few can top that one.

Now here’s the really funny part: This is not an urban legend, it’s my life. I perhaps exaggerated the squirrel attack on my ankles, but the ruthless rodents did chew through the wiring of my wagon, costing me $791.94. I don’t have hidden cameras in my engine so I can’t say for sure that squirrels did the damage, but it’s a good bet.

My saga has so many funny parts that I don’t know where to start. The first is that this happened less than two weeks before Christmas, which really put me in the holiday spirit. After I yanked down our Christmas tree, I hacked off the limbs and began clubbing squirrels to death in our front yard until my kids came out of the house crying. Little do they know that I’m taking a long, hard look at Boo and Chester, our resident gerbils. Their beady eyes are a constant reminder of my pain and empty wallet.

I am suspicious by nature, so even though the guy at the dealership told me that this is a fairly common occurrence, I immediately did a search for “squirrels and car wiring.” The first hit of 160,000 was Squirrels Ate My Wiring! I read all sorts of ways to get rid of the vermin, including moth balls (which I bought) and something called Shake-Away PACKS FOR SQUIRRELS, the main ingredient being eau de fox urine, which I also purchased.

Then there was calling in the claim, the equivalent of “Squirrels peed on my homework and ate all my books.”

And here’s the icing on the cake, the bees’ knees, the summit of Everest: the engine light came on in our old car, so I dropped it off at the dealership and drove the SquirrelMobile home. Sure enough – I get a call about an hour later saying the squirrels had once again done their dirty deeds, but they didn’t do as much damage. However, in one of those hilarious curveballs that life throws at us, the intake valves were apparently plugged and damage was estimated at $900. And you’ve got to love this: I had to call in a new claim and tell them “the squirrels ate my parents.”

It’s all so comical that I’m laughing all the way to the bank. With Xanax and a muscle relaxer and wine (good for my heart!), I’m already able to look back and laugh. Hysterically. My husband and kids fail to see the humor, though – they keep knocking on my bedroom door and asking me if I’m okay. I think they just want me to fix dinner for them. To distract myself, I envision how the girls will talk about this later in therapy, whining about he Christmas when they received nothing but socks, moth balls and fox glands in their stockings.

Although things have been bleak, I was proud of myself for using my arsenal of moth balls and pee to take out the enemy before they take me out. Then I received the following email from my girlfriend Kristy:
I can certainly sympathize with you regarding the squirrels. If you recall, I spent 6 years fighting squirrels in my old house until it burned down. Considering all the effort and money spent trying to eradicate them, I took lots of flack from people accusing me of burning down the house just to get rid of the squirrels. I’ll never forget the day Jim H. and I went over there to get some antique hardware off a door. We went into the burned out husk of my home and discovered there were no longer squirrels in the wall chewing up everything….they had built their nests smack in the middle of the den!

Nasty little beasts! Be careful with that chewed wiring. It could cause your car to burn! I can also attest to the fact that nothing…I mean nothing I tried worked. I remember the time I was told to put moth balls in the soffits to prevent them from chewing holes to access the house. I learned that day they are very tidy little creatures. I had nice little stacks (like little cannon balls) of moth balls on the ground under every single hole they chewed into my soffits.

For the record, in addition to the mothballs, the home “recipes”, poison traps, cayenne pepper, poison corn, and sound devices don’t work either Maybe if you just clip a 660-volt charger to your engine block when it is parked in the driveway…
Upon hearing this, my husband ordered Wrist-Rocket slingshots for the girls for Christmas and a shotgum and hunting license for himself.
My first idea, to both recoup our losses and get rid of the filthy tree rats, was to invite squirrel hunters to the house, where they could shoot as many squirrels as they wanted, drink as much beer as they could hold AND get a ride home, all for a reasonable price.

Since I was pretty sure he wouldn’t go for that idea, I am putting my next plan into action: I am working on a heartfelt letter to send to my family, best friends, close personal friends, backup friends, former friends, acquaintances and co-workers: they are to send a minimum of $10 to the P.O. Box I rented and forward the letter to at least 10 people OR risk their next holiday being even more jinxed than mine.

(For the record, the last time Sweetie brought me a dead animal, Sugar (below) had actually killed it, which is amazing since she has a bum leg and who knew she could outrun a rabbit. She knew everyone saw her, so only lingered over her kill for a few minutes before Sweetie grabbed it and proudly presented it.)

Epilog: I posted this earlier today. When John came home at noon, I told him the dead squirrel was on the deck, but it was gone when he went out to check. A few minutes ago I saw it from the corner of my eye -- all I noticed was that it wasn't in very good condition. I flew downstairs yelling, "the squirrel is in the house!" From my voice, he thought it was hanging from the ceiling or something, ready to attack. I said "I don't know how it got in here," and he said "Sweetie ate it," adding that "our dogs aren't even smart enough to let us keep our presents."


  1. The New Yorker doesn't know what they're missing.


  2. Hi! We just wanted to take a moment to let you know about the upcoming Arkansas Women Bloggers get-together that will be held at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock on December 11th. Join us for food, fun and GIVEAWAYS and a chance to meet your fellow women blogger! Please RSVP on our website if you plan to attend.