I was driving around the neighborhood the other day, and I happened to cruise past one of the parks in the area, on my way to my favorite Chinese restaurant. Like always--out of habit mostly--I shot a glance over to the large soccer field, where our local mexican friends traditionally take up their two favorite weekend past-times... soccer and soccer. And maybe a little drinking and grilling. It was only Wednesday, yet my mind still began to wander... and my senses began to imagine the delicious aroma of carne asada drifting along, like a soothing breeze. Through the open passenger window, and straight up my nose. My mouth started to water.
And then it happened. It came out of nowhere--appearing from between two parked, boxy-looking cars--and freezing for a split second. My eyes bulged, my mouth dried up instantly, and I barely managed to swerve to the left...just before that little piece of sh*t scurried back between the two parked, boxey-looking cars. And as fast as it developed--it was all over.
With my heart still beating a million times per second, I continued down the street, narrowly avoiding what could have been a minor disaster. Hitting a squirrel would have definitely brought bad karma to my day. Good thing that didn't happen. My life was, once again...manageable. Or was it? Did I really avoid that little bastard? Or did I clip his butt just enough to send him flying into the bumper of one of those two, boxey-looking cars? Maybe it was a 'she'. Maybe 'she' was pregnant with little baby squirrels before I put her face first into a "I (heart) Huckabee!" bumper sticker.
Ok, I may not be the most caring and understandable person out there, but I'll be damned if I'm gonna let a cute, furry little rodent haunt my dreams for the rest of the week. So, I decided to make a U-turn. Yes, I was returning to the scene of...well... I don't know. No real crime was committed. I didn't have to make that U-turn. But something, I don't know what (maybe it was the carne asada still floating around in my subconscience), told me to go back and make sure that everything was ok. Squirrel bodies on the road are not a pretty sight; especially for moms with little tykes in tow. I had to be sure.
So, after making the morally correct 'U-turn', I slowed to an almost 15 miles per hour--cruising past the dreaded spot. And you know what? There was no body. No dead squirrel body. No deep red puddle of furriness. I was in the clear. As I prepared to make a left turn, down the narrow street that would eventually lead me around the entire park, and onward to my favorite Chinese restaurant, I glanced back for a final look. And, what caught my eye--and drove the imagined aroma of that damn carne asada away for good--was the sight of...SQUIRRELS. Many...many...squirrels. They were flocking from everywhere. I tried to get my head around, but it was impossible. My neck was too thick (not like a chicken neck). I had to continue down the street--circle around--then come back up on the other side. So I did.
As I approached the stop sign on the corner, I casually--not to bring too much attention to myself--pulled to the side of the curb. Slid it into park, and shut off the engine. I waited for a moment--to gather myself--before opening the car door. But before I could do all of that, my peripheral vision tapped me on the shoulder and said 'Hey, you reaaaaaaaaaally need to take a look at this!'
So I did. Reluctantly. And there...lined up along the edge of the grass and the sidewalk...were SQUIRRELS. Many...many...many...squirrels. Enough to feed a small army (of hillbillies).
I stopped my stare, and swallowed hard. They were WATCHING me. Observing me. For reasons, I have no idea. Oh wait...I think I know why. Maybe I left an empty peanut bag in the back seat, and the scent of the peanut residue attracted the mass...of...squirrels... No. That was wishful thinking. I knew the reason. They were pissed. I almost killed one of their own, and they were not having any part of that. One of the larger ones, from the left side, started to shake his furry tail around...as if to signal to the rest of the group. Were they planning to attack? Or, were they just going to stare me down until the guilt that I thought I felt inside, became too much to bear. I was frozen. I didn't know what was going to happen. But I knew that I had to get out there...and fast.
I reached for the key, which still happened to be in the ignition (thank god), and I started to twist it. But, before my hand could make that simple gesture, I heard a voice. The voice said... "You can go now." I stopped, listened quietly. Was it god? Were the squirrels telepathically telling me that it was ok for me to leave? I turned toward the army of furry little squirrels, their tails all now shaking and jumping around, and I opened my mouth...as if to apologize for almost making mince meat out of one of their buddies. But again, before I could perform this action, I heard the voice again... "You can go now!" Only this time, it was less angelic and more sinister. And, it seemed to be coming from the passenger side of the street. So I turned, and was instantly shocked back into reality. Because there, sitting on the porch of the house directly in my line of sight, was an old man...in a rocker...with a giant bag of...PEANUTS. His tree trunk of a walking cane, leaning comfortable against the paint-peeled porch post.
He didn't look too happy. And I could finally see why. He waved me off with a grunt; chewing on his toothpick. "You can leave now!!" And with that, I came to a sudden realization. The squirrel army that prepared to do battle, was in fact, not preparing to do battle at all. There was no revenge in their beating little hearts, only hunger in their tiny little bellies. And I was blocking them from the object that they were desiring most. The big bag of peanuts. I WAS KEEPING THEM FROM THEIR PEANUTS.
It didn't take long before the old man squawked at me again, and that was quite alright with me. I wanted no part of the ensuing feeding frenzy. I chuckled to myself, took a deep breath and wiped the sweat beads from my forehead. Then, with one last glance at the waiting chorus line of hungry squirrels...I fired up the engine, pulled slowly from the curb and continued on my way...to my favorite Chinese restaurant. Hoping, that squirrels...do NOT like Chinese food!