I look warily toward the trees that line the parking lot at work as I head toward my car these days, the theme from “Jaws” echoing menacingly in my mind. “He’s out there,” I think, eyes scanning the horizon. Normally, I’d have said you’d be out of your tree to think a squirrel could generate this kind of fear.
I look warily toward the trees that line the parking lot at work as I head toward my car these days, the theme from “Jaws” echoing menacingly in my mind.
“He’s out there,” I think, eyes scanning the horizon.
Normally, I’d have said you’d be out of your tree to think a squirrel could generate this kind of fear.
But that was before I learned of “the incident.”
I overheard a co-worker relate the melancholy events to a second colleague in much the same hushed tones as Quint related the ill-fated sinking of “The Indianapolis” to Hooper and Brody.
“This squirrel just ran round in circles in the parking lot - in front of the door, and wouldn’t get out of the way. Then it stood in the path, right in front of the door and people were afraid to go out. It just stood there.
“It was acting bizarrely and it showed no fear.”
I shivered because earlier in the week I’d come across a squirrel that I thought had been behaving oddly. It seemed to saunter, rather than scatter away in ordinary squirrely fashion.
It was as if it had lost its innate respect for humankind.
I recalled with a shudder that I had even made mention of the event to a clerk when I stopped for gas on the way home.
“Gee,” I said, “I just saw a squirrel that seemed to have lost its innate respect for humankind.” The clerk made change without comment, probably overwhelmed by the thought.
What if all the squirrels – gray and red – banded together like the birds in “The Birds” and launched an offensive on man? Would the chipmunks be far behind?
And have you seen just one gray squirrel tear up the distance from ground to treetop in mere seconds? Now picture half a dozen tearing up and down your torso like you’re an undersized oak.
Still, though, this bushy-tailed outlaw is probably just an aberration. A squirrel that is the rodent equivalent of Billy the Kid, a hell-bent renegade with a bad attitude and nothing to lose.
But it’s the out-of-the-ordinary nature of an aggressive squirrel that can be the most unsettling aspect as you walk toward your car, noting with unease the acorns scattered to and fro on the ground, signs that you are on his turf despite all your technological advantages.
It’s like Bambi suddenly lifting a lip with a growl to reveal a set of fangs.
Legendary film actor Lon Chaney Sr. is credited with saying, “A clown may be amusing in a circus ring, but what would be your reaction to opening your door and finding that same clown on your front step at midnight?”
And what would be your reaction if it’s a squirrel you find out there?
Well, yeah, the clown would be way scarier, but it would still be unsettling.
Frank Mulligan is an editor in GateHouse Media New England’s Raynham, Mass., office, and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.