There are some days when I feel the need to make that effort, to ‘dress up’ and go visiting. Plus, Linda had been flaunting her recent Seattle purchases every night with her new “Cat’s Meow” PJ’s. I had offered to show my new Victoria Secret panties to my night worker whose response was less than positive “God, not another one today! No, you can keep your panties to yourself!” (I was only trying to share, what the point of new clothes if no one notices?). So Saturday I decided I was going to wear my new Tripp NYC corset. Actually, I decided that on Thursday, I had just been planning how to accessorize until Saturday morning. So: New Tripp Corset, and my Tripp NYC plaid mini skirt with black tights and flats. I wanted to prove a) that everyone who thinks you can’t can’t wear mini skirts in a wheelchair is wrong and b) those who think that you can’t wear a mini skirt and corset in the first weeks of Jan. are wrong too (or I am crazy...or both). I wore my skelekitty headband and earrings (because even dead animals need love too!) and my Tripp red corset arm warmers (or I would once we got to the park). Because I was visiting my friends, which human-wise are thin on the ground around here so I must mean: Squirrels!)
I did not actually make it all the way to the park before getting hit up by a squirrel panhandler. It is strange how the squirrels of Victoria begin to reflect the city. And apparently corset and mini-skirt girl has “soft target” written all over her because this guy just came bounding along with a sad look and slightly open mouth and some story about how his van had broken down and if he could only get enough peanuts to get back home.... Yeah, yeah, take the peanut. He was off with a “I’ll email it back to you.” Does he realize that makes no sense at all?
So I made it to the general enchanted forest to find that either some local squirrel mental health unit was allowing a day trip or the further into winter the more the “Characters” come out. No chance of meeting Psycho or Fiona today; there was this odd squirrel with the most pathetic tail in existence who manages to meet me each time I go now. I have yet to come up with a name which dignifies him, so I will name him ‘Scruffy’ after one of my favorite video store workers (who seems to think ‘bed hair’ and ‘three day growth’ is going to come back in style). Scruffy was nice because beside serious self esteem issues, he is almost normal.
I have this horrid feeling that like the DVD Grizzly Man, I have become Squirrel Girl and unable to adjust to human life, I continue to return again and again to the squirrel world only to find that all the nice squirrels who like me are gone and only the desperate, the loners, the shady characters and the seriously neurotic are left (meanwhile, I am trying to make them and me feel our 'special time together' by planning a corset ensemble for two days - yeah, no mental worries there).
Take this picture for example. Here we have this new breed of squirrel which is grey with a red bits which I call ADHD EXTREME. I know the whole reddish grey family and there must have been a LOT of inbreeding going on because I can’t tell if the squirrels are running elaborate football patterns to try and fool the enemies only they see or if they are just physically incapable of moving in a straight line. If you have some Ritalin for squirrels, please send it, they need HELP. I hold out the peanut, and this guy just runs, faster than any squirrel I have ever seen, all sorts of bizarre patterns which bring him NOWHERE near my hand and peanut. After a few seconds watching him I am so exhausted I toss the peanut to him (you can click on the picture to get a full screen version with details). This apparently causes some sort of ‘Nam flashback as he is screaming, “Incoming, hit the deck!” and flattens to all four before, after an extended period sniffing he goes, “My God! A peanut; let us take these enemy war spoils and depart” (which he does in erratic and twisty ways). The emotional energy that goes into trying to feed this guy? I have had self absorbed girlfriends who required less maintenance for a relationship. Meanwhile his son, directly above him in the picture is doing Al Pacino impressions to the crow, “You looking at me? You LOOKING at ME?” Suddenly my lovely day in the park is feeling more like a family reunion.
This is not to say that there weren’t some general, “let’s get down to business” squirrels, two darker ones who were bold. One would simply stand up beside me, I would give it a peanut which it stuffed in it’s cheeks and then it would just stand there again. “Hello! Hit me again!” So I would, and it went off with two peanuts. This is probably why I did so badly as a high school teacher because at a certain level I can’t help but reward outrageous behavior. I think this is why I have “easy mark” written all over me. It is not so much as the biblical “ask and you shall receive” but “demand and it shall be given thee.”
There was this beautiful black, black squirrel which reminded me of Arabian horses. I mean, the first time I saw him I thought of the film Black Beauty. Only the closer he comes the more obvious it is that he has a very ‘shady character right on the edge of pimp' attitude (I suspect I am not the first female he has used his looks on). He sauntered over and it was, “Ma belle dame! What is a little thing like you doing out here?” I am thinking “Little thing? I’m not the one who is 12 oz?” but he is already continuing. “Oh baby, someone like you, I see ‘class’ all over you, you shouldn’t be risking those delicate fingers with common labor. What are all those peanuts you have to hold? Is there not one gentleman squirrel in the park to help you?” I watch him, mesmerized as he saunters closer, “My little flower, you just let me take those heavy, heavy peanuts off of you, I take good care of you.....maybe later you come see my nest?” I give him two peanuts and he hangs around trying to convince the other squirrels that he and I are “We got something special, can’t you see that? What? You want to interrupt something like that?” He actually curls up on my feet.
Which brings up another tip for those girls in wheelchairs who go to the park to feed your mildly neurotic and aggressive squirrels while wearing a mini-skirt: Having squirrels get aggressive on you and climb up your legs when you are only wearing tights is a VERY different experience than with jeans. I have some rather unusual scratches that would be pretty hard to explain on my legs and knees. I can hardly wait to hear what tomorrow’s night worker will say: “I know I said I don’t want to know any more about your kinky lesbian lifestyle but.....those are the smallest whip marks I have EVER seen.” When the guy finally makes it up to your lap and sits there eating a peanut though, it does make it all worthwhile.
After the first hour some of the squirrels who are regular and used to me by now tend to view me as a version of a drive thru. They come bounding across the field from where-ever they were eating or burying the peanut (this time one squirrel had the audacity to sit in the tree directly above me and drop peanut shell bits on me from above BEFORE coming back for another – did I have to wonder if this squirrel was male? No!). They bound right up and leap onto my wheel with a shout: “Another peanut and try to make this a large one please!”
Some people say that giving squirrels peanuts cooked in the shell is bad because they bury them instead of eating them right away and then forget where they put them. I tend to view these people as the same type of people who feel that only NPR should be on the radio and educational Public broadcasting is all that TV SHOULD be used for. As in, from my observation, some squirrels take much delight in grabbing a peanut and then burying it with great enthusiasm (So much that one black squirrel we called “big butt” because he spent so much time burying peanuts we saw more of his waving butt than his face). And since they are happy, and I like to see them happy and they don’t come into my house and tell me what to do with my spare time, I give them the peanut to do with as they please (except eat it above my head and drop your litter on me!). Another little tip: when wearing flats and certain squirrels keep jumping on your feet to shout, “Yo Baby! Hit me! Come on, come on, give me the peanut lovin’!” even if you can’t feel the feet, they get the same, er, ‘interesting’ pattern of claw marks.
So what that the squirrels seemed a bit more….eccentric this time (I don’t want to turn into that sort of British Woman who is sniffing and goes “I say! Ascot gets worse and worse every year…..my God, look over there, they are letting the Welsh in!” – I think the term is “insufferable snob”). I got out, I had fun. The squirrels seemed to have fun, in their own way. And who knows, maybe they are all completely sane but amuse themselves in winter by playing mental games on wheelchair girl (“ha ha, here she comes again….okay, okay, this time you’re the one who just keeps running in circles!”).
Though there was one poor older squirrel who seriously was having a PTSD experience (not joking), he was about 10 feet from me and at the base of his tree and just couldn’t move from the base of the tree no matter how much he tried. I have never seen squirrel agoraphobia before but I eventually sent Linda over to give him some peanuts so he wouldn’t have to stress out about trying to get across the 10 feet to me. I am pretty empathetic to ALL species disabilities. There was also a grey who had a lot of head scars and seemed out of some combat school as every time I would reach down to feed him he would leap into the air and try to bat the peanut out of my hand (or grab it in his teeth and hang from my hand). This was slightly traumatic for me as I kept saying, “Dude, I am TRYING to GIVE you a peanut.” While he is like, “No one in this life ever gave me nothin’, and that don’t change!” Thank God he couldn’t climb! Unlike this little guy who seemed to take delight in doing different routes up me; he was like, “I rate this ascent as a 6.12, and I’m only going to use the blue handhold’s this time.” Whatever. Like I said, I got out, I went through TWO bags of peanuts and then I was taken home and put to bed mumbling to Linda, “I don’t know if I want to dream about those squirrels....they kind of scare me.”
I hope where ever you are, deep in snow and slush that for a few minutes you got to be in green fields with loving (albiet with mental issues) animals and that this time amused or distracted you. It was still Jan. and pretty close on freezing though - as you can see in some pictures by my exposed purple feet (Linda was not amused!).
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