Today is National Squirrel Appreciation Day. We're supposed to spend the day celebrating all of the good things the fuzzy little creatures do for us, or so I'm led to believe. Here's the thing, I don't appreciate squirrels. I barely even tolerate them. This wasn't always the case, I used to think they were cute. Hell, I'd even leave them some food on occasion. But that was before Pistachio.
Pistachio changed it all for me. I was hanging out on my couch one day, minding my own business. I had just gotten back from a nice lunch at the Town Hall Deli in South Orange, New Jersey. The Town Hall Deli is the home of the original Sloppy Joe, a mighty sandwich featuring two different types of meat, three slices of rye bread, coleslaw, cheese and homemade Russian dressing. This isn't the crap that Adam Sandler used to sing about.
The point is, I was on the verge of food coma when a movement in the kitchen caught my eye. I was by myself, there shouldn't have been anything moving around. Then I turned my head to find a small little squirrel staring up at me from the kitchen floor.
"What the fuck?!" I screamed.
"What the fuck?!" The squirrel clearly told me with the expression on his face.
I started to stand, slowly, stupidly thinking that I could get the drop on the small nimble rodent. Without the faintest clue as to what to do if I were able to catch the little guy, I took off after him and he bolted.
I'm not a fast man, and I'm not sure if this was a fast squirrel, but I can tell you that he sure was a hell of a lot faster than I am. He bolted down the hallway into the bedroom. I made chase and slammed the door once I entered the bedroom. The plan was to open up the window, and upon seeing a chance at freedom the squirrel would jump right through and all problems would be solved.
This is not what happened.
The squirrel set up camp in between the bed and some plastic tubs. He dug in and fortified his position. This was not going to be a simple case of the squirrel happily leaving in a timely manner, it was going to be a siege. I had confined him to the bedroom, he had found an unreachable nook.
It was around this time that I started to think clearly. I did not have health insurance and squirrels, as adorable as they are, can carry some pretty nasty ramifications with their scratches and bites. I needed armor. And weaponry. And bait. So I left the bedroom, carefully making sure that the little bugger didn't follow me out of the room.
At the bodega around the corner, I asked the man behind the counter what he thought squirrels would want to eat. After enduring a silent, icy stare for 30 seconds I decided that pistachios would be my bait of choice. Was my decision swayed by my own snacking desires, sure! But that didn't mean that the squirrel wouldn't have the same taste in snacks as I do.
Upon my return, I made sure to cover myself entirely. Stocking cap pulled down, hood up, hands pulled into the sleeves. I grabbed the closest thing I had to a halberd, a Swiffer, and re-opened the bedroom door prepared for battle. Long story short, it was a stalemate. Reinforcements would be necessary if I ever wished to use my bedroom again.
I made some calls. I called animal control, they weren't going to be of any help. It was 4pm on a Friday, they'd gone home for the weekend. I tweeted at the mayor, he flippantly responded that I couldn't crash at his house. Then I called in my A-Team.
There was a videographer to capture all of the insanity. A friend known primarily for instigating trouble was brought in to chuck pistachios through the window for, uh, reasons. Two folks showed up with a pair of dogs, one of which was blind. There were the two biggest maniacs I knew who just so happened to have cool names—Jesse James and Spider. We were ready for battle.
Pistachio was a wily one. He was hunkered down, but once rousted, he jumped all around the room, bouncing off the walls, then returning to safety, far from where any of us could reach him. Multiple attempts were made, lots of laughs were had and many idiotic moves were attempted. But Pistachio just didn't want to go out the window and return to the wild.
Things were getting dire. We were losing faith. I was going to have to calmly convince my girlfriend that we were going to have to move. Our apartment was no longer ours, Pistachio lived there. At least until he was evicted for attempting to pay rent in acorns.
Then my maniacs, armed with nothing other than a straw hat (which brought luck?) and a towel were able to finally coerce Pistachio to reconsider an indoor life. As Pistachio dived around the room he finally made contact with the towel, the maniacs pulled it tight, and out the window Pistachio went! he dove off of a garbage can, right in front of the rest of the team. As we applauded the cute little squirrel ran across the street. I like to think that he went home to his family and talked about how it took a ragtag team of seven people and two dogs to evict him from the great world of indoors. I like to imagine Pistachio being feted like a conquering hero, the adventurer who boldly went where no squirrel had gone before.
Some of these tattoos remind me of Pistachio. I see the gleam in the eye, the desire to invade the indoors. I feel my blood pressure rise, my palms get a little sweaty. Then I remember that it's just a tattoo and everything is fine.
So, in summation, I don't appreciate squirrels. Even on National Squirrel Appreciation Day. But Pistachio, that son-of-a-bitch, he earned my respect.