Squirrels. The word has many applications. The first, and most prominent, is the adorable, irresistibly spastic rodents of the Sciuridae family. Their bushy tails (which are the origin of their name) and twitching faces, paired with their miniscule bodies, give them an unmistakable silhouette
I once caught one out of its natural habitat (about ten feet from a tree, it was up a flight of stairs, I at the bottom stair) and turned giddy at the small bodies’ twitching. The longest it stayed in one spot was about four seconds, looking straight at me. Its nose twitched, its face twitched, no part of its body seemed to be still. It went under the staircase, over it, up the rail, at the while its large eyes tracked my own movement, as I tried to keep up with the puff of tail. It finally outmaneuvered me, in the three feet of space it had; In three barely audible hops, each push accentuated by a flick of its tail, it had clung to the tree and skittered to the lowest branch.
As reflect on the venture that Sunday, I realize how captivated I had been by this small, adorable fluff. It came to be at once: it was different. I could relate to it on so many levels. First, it’s never in one place. It always moves. Squirrels are completely incapable of standing still, and, even when they are frigid in a tree, the nose keeps twitching, its tail swishes periodically. As it is, so am I. any of my friends and (many) enemies will tell you wholeheartedly that I twitch in class. I move often, though not because I’m impatient. My back has very little padding, and my spine is sharp. As to the rest of my body, that is impatience. I wear a hole in desks from tapping my pen upon them, just from sheer repetitious boredom.
As much as I relate to squirrels, and their small, fluffy, I-want-this-rodent-as-a-pet nature, I must differ in their opinions on a subject of grave importance. Squirrels, for an astrological reason, are compelled to jump in front of cars. Inevitably, this happens about a second or two before my tire flattens them into the ground. As soon as they step onto the road, they prime themselves for the next jump, which places them directly in the path of my wheel. They understand that, as squirrels, their only place in the world is to eat adorably, sleep adorably, be recorded adorably, and to die horribly.
I have never seen a single squirrel’s corpse that hasn’t been crushed into oblivion. I am convinced, then, that the ultimate goal of all squirrels is to die shortly after they grow into the “average squirrel” size. The fastest way to accomplish their lives’ missions is to make a sport of it, and dare each other to dodge their impending doom.
Now, whereas other people might dodge into opposing traffic to avoid the object of their adoration, I consider this futile. If a squirrel wants to die, it will keep running until it flattens itself. I make it easy for my friends to fulfill their dreams. I keep driving straight, and laugh at both the prior person’s crashing into a tree and the small noise of a squished squirrel. I consider squirrels as having a place in heaven by default, for why would God not let such adorable fluffs of fur into such a royal place?
Now, one thing I absolutely despise is running over half a squirrel. My father did this once, and I scolded him when I looked in the rearview mirror. I saw that the back half had indeed been crushed, but the front was still quite alive, and I could feel the pain. I forced my father to put the car in reverse (we were in a barren subdivision) and end its suffering. As soon as I complete my duty, I check my rearviews to see if I, in fact, killed the poor thing. If I didn’t, I turn around.
Squirrels and I have been good friends for a long time. In my backyard, they come close to me before darting off. I have had more squirrel encounters than I can rightfully count on my fingers and toes. But think not that those encounters have left me with a changed heart on the role of squirrels in the world:
To eat adorably, to run adorably, to be recorded adorably, and to die horribly.