21 February 2013
I can’t believe it’s been two weeks since my last squirrel post. I also can’t believe this ordeal isn’t over. I walk around my neighborhood looking at squirrels with a kind of renewed respect. Who are you, I think to myself, as I look out my window at the squirrel building his nest in a tree hollow fifty feet above street level. How did you get the best of me when I have a masters degree? All I see is a bit of leaf chewing, a little grooming. Some gnawing on the utility lines.
Here’s an update. About three weeks ago I realized I was not going to be able to trap them in the attic, which made me half-crazy with frustration, so in some kind of dendritic mania that can only be described as a true departure from reason, I purchased an air rifle and a surveillance system. I bought the gun at Gander Mountain after driving around and around the parking lot trying to decide whether I should nestle the car between four Tacomas, six Sierras, or a line of Broncos. I strolled the two babies to the back of the store on the side where All The Guns Are, and watched how it all worked, and was very fascinated and amazed. It was a crowded weekday afternoon, and the place was teeming with very large men in fancy, complicated hunting ensembles. There were so many people I actually had to take a number and stand in line like I was at the deli counter waiting for potato salad. There were all these huge men in camouflage and carharts standing around talking to more men behind the counter, and everyone was fingering the wood on the rifle butts, signing paperwork, studying fancy pistols in velvet boxes under the display case. All the guns had these safety locks on the triggers, too, sort of the equivalent to those thick wire cables you find on the leather jackets at Nordstroms. What a terrible metaphor. I’m trying to write quickly because it’s early in the morning and I just heard a babe rustle upstairs. Anyway, I stood there for what felt like hours waiting my turn, and two really huge guys actually had the audacity to cut in front of me (one after the next!) which was unbelievably rude. Did they think I was there to just marvel at their virility while passing by them en route to the pink raincoats? They were all just standing around, too, not really talking in the eerie quiet of a gun-buying afternoon and finally I got exasperated with all the line cutting and camo wearing and head butting so at some point I don’t know exactly when, I just went up to a circle of them and said boys, why don’t we just cut the bull and just whip them all out right here. That’s right. Take those things out of your pants and let’s just really get down to who is the realest man here. Maybe you two big bears over there by the ammunition can actually start making out with each other; you’ve been eyeing each other for a while now. You know you want to do it.
When a third Big Bear tried to cut me I went up to him and said, um, I’m next. I tried to say it powerfully and in a masculine voice but that’s hard to do while you’re laying a cheerio on a baby’s tongue and hiking up the diaper bag a little higher on your shoulder. No matter. A nice man named Ron came over and listened thoughtfully and lead me away from the counter with the rows of rifles against the wall and over to some other aisle where they keep the guns that don’t take real bullets. The womanly aisle. He was very nice and very respectful, and showed me something called the Air Hawk Break Barrel Pellet Rifle, and we talked for a while about 1200 feet per second and how the scope works and so forth, and at some point it occurred to me that he was speaking extremely slowly and actually quite loudly, too, as if I were an immigrant or a second- language learner. Possibly both. He took out a square-shaped notepad with about twenty-five copies of the same huge rat in the center of a group of concentric circles.
“Now, you go get a pizza box and tack it to a tree, and then tape the picture to the pizza box. You’ll be looking at the bulls eye through the scope, but when you shoot, it’s going to hit to the right of it or the left, so you have to keep adjusting until it hits the center.”
“You mean like calibrating it,” I said, and Ron’s eyes lit up like he had just won the publisher’s clearinghouse sweepstakes. “Yes, cal-i-brate,” he nodded, practically repeating the word back to me in song. “Caaaaaaaaaalibraaaaaaate.”
I bought the pellets he told me were the best kind and I asked him if a pellet gun could really kill somebody like Artie said, and he said yeah but you’d have to shoot him right in the eye and who is Artie. But when I told him I was probably going to be shooting at a distance of only like 30 yards he told me you can’t miss. At that distance you can knock them off with a spitball, he said.
I bought the rifle, the pellets, and the rat pictures and walked out of there quickly because at that point I had been in the store a long time and my you-know-whats were indicating that the babies were thirsty. I sat in the back of the car nursing and reading the rifle box. Blued barrel and muzzlebrake, it says. Rubber recoil pad with a fixed fiber optic.
Later on that week I looked at about a hundred bird feeders, but they’re all designed to keep the squirrels away, not attract them. And I’m really afraid I’ll miss and kill someone who lives beyond the backyard. A friend of mine told me to forget about buying a feeder and just put a bowl of seeds in the snow and shoot down, a great idea I hadn’t even considered. It’s so good to have all these nice friends with their smart ideas.
I was thinking about all these things when my one-way squirrel valve (to borrow Andy’s eloquent term) came in the mail, which was a relief because I didn’t know what I was going to do with the babies while I sat out on my tenants back porch waiting for a squirrel to show up at the bowl. Shoot ‘em now before they make babies, Artie told me. Get ‘em right behind the eye.
My contractor, Rick, finally got his van fixed and was able to come to the house this past Friday, so I buried the rifle in the back of the car for the duration. You simply cannot imagine what happened after he put that trap on the side of the house. Look for me here tomorrow, dear readers, and thank you for reading.