Between The Band and Betty Davis

It is spring! Without doubt, it is spring. The skinny trees on Monmouth Street have suddenly bloomed all pink and purple and white, while the birds outside my kitchen window have learned to sing new songs. They make a wonderful racket in the morning. I like it. It makes me feel somehow closer to the world, to nature, to love and god and shit. This music of spring is a nice contrast to the sirens and jack hammers that normally make up a Jersey City morning.

I was late for work today. I'd like to say that it was because I got caught up in some sweet springtime birdsong, but it wasn't anything so pleasant.

I was in the bathroom, looking in the mirror to see what my hair was doing, when I heard some noise coming from the kitchen. I turned around to find something unusual and unexpected, something completely out of place.

There, in my Jersey City kitchen, was a little squirrel. If I had to take a guess, I might say it was a baby squirrel.

I freaked. I might have screamed. The little baby squirrel, in turn, might have screamed right back at me. I stood there and watched as the squirrel turned around and did its little squirrel dance right into my living room. The birds outside my kitchen window shouted some soaring song. Or perhaps it was laughter. My heart raced.

My apartment is small, you see. I like living alone. The place is just right for me. Now, with this squirrel in the living room, the place was suddenly crowded. I've never even had a pet, and I don't want one. Squirrels belong in the park, up in the trees, along telephone wires, or scampering between car tires. Not in my apartment. It would be one thing if I lived in the hills like Art Dudley, or in the jungle like Jon Iverson—then such events might be expected—but I live in the city. I am not accustomed to these brushes with nature.

The squirrel seemed to be limping. Either that or it just couldn't get a grip on my polished wood floors. I tried to force myself not to feel sorry for the thing, but it wasn't working. I'm no expert on squirrel body language, but it sure seemed that the poor, little guy was even more frightened than I was. It hid behind some of my records, tucked in tight between The Band and Betty Davis. Good taste, for a squirrel.

I moved the Totem Arros out of the way, clearing a path in case the squirrel tried to make some quick escape. And then I called my landlord, who laughed and laughed and laughed, before suddenly arriving with a trap.

My landlord is kind of like the crocodile hunter. Apparently, he carries these traps with him wherever he goes. He loaded the trap with peanut butter and placed it, ever so gently, near the squirrel's hideout. Then, using a couple more records and a remote control, we blocked off every other potential escape route.

Squirrels are funny. They make the strangest sounds. Did you know? This particular squirrel—let's call him Garth Hudson—made sounds that alternated between a cat-like purr and a piggish snort. Consequently, my feelings regarding Garth Hudson vacillated between gentle affection and complete abhorrence. Ah, he's so cute. Blech, get that disgusting glorified rat out of here!

Slowly, while Garth purred and chirped and honked, we coerced him into the trap. The trap was nothing more than a small rectangular cage with some peanut butter balanced upon a see-saw mechanism. Doors on both ends of the cage are held up by a couple of latches. Triggering the baited lever disengages the latches. The doors slam shut and the squirrel is trapped.

It worked like a charm. Trapped, poor little Garth Hudson, in the middle of intense fear and confusion (I'm sure), lost his little bowels all over my polished wood floor. The Totem Arros and the records were not harmed, however. Neither was Garth. My landlord, the squirrel hunter, left the apartment just as suddenly as he had arrived, as suddenly as spring.

I was late for work today. On the PATH train platform, women were dressed for the weather, showing off their pretty new dresses and ballerina slippers. As I walked past, each woman held me with knowing spring eyes. Small smiles bloomed. Their looks all whispered the same sad thing:

You had a squirrel in your apartment, didn't you?!

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selfdivider's picture

thank goodness the band lp wasn't ruined. keep poisoned acorns near your records at all times, stephen. muhahahah...i've been on the band-wagon these days, if you noticed... bought the rock of ages, and the record seller i met is saving the brown album for me for the next street fair, and is hunting down music for big pink... hopefully the mo-fi version...oh, and bought the dvd of scorsese's 'last waltz' today for $12 because i saw that rick danko just breaks your heart in 'it makes no difference' in the youtube video that my buddy linked for me the other day.

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