I am an animal lover, and that usually gets me into a lot of trouble. I need supervision, or else I would turn my house into a land-bound version of Noah’s Ark. (You wouldn’t expect an agoraphobic to set sail on the high seas, now would you?)
Sooner or later, this is going to catch up to me. You will probably hear about me on the 6 o’clock news: “Local good Samaritan mauled when trying to feed a ______ .” You fill in the blank with the animal of your choice.
Of the many pets I have had over the years, none was more loveable than Stanley, my pet squirrel (see lower right). Stanley and I had a good run, though it ended much too quickly, leaving me lonely, heartbroken, and with way too many nuts on my hands.
It all started one fateful Christmas. The day began innocently – all trouble seems to start that way. Soon, things went awry. I received a large bag of peanuts, then some pistachios. Being a fan of nuts (and Fritos and Reese’s peanut butter cups – hint hint) I was quite happy. But my family obviously hadn’t coordinated their gift-giving plans, and I wound up with bag after bag after bag – far too many for myself.
So what did I do? I did the same thing that any decent person would: I shared them. Soon my family was tired of the salty treats, so I turned my sights on the great outdoors, hoping to share them with the animals that visited my yard. I liked the idea. My wife did not.
And Yet, He Persists
I innocently placed a delicious variety of nuts on our front steps each and every morning. By noon they were always gone. So one day I decided to stand watch to see who was coming to dine on the food I had laid out. That is when I met Stanley.
Stanley wasn’t like the other squirrels. He didn’t run away every time I opened the door. Just the opposite – he came running! He was bold and friendly and very good-natured, though he was quite camera shy and did not like to have his picture taken. It was all I could do to snap the one of him above.
Winter turned to spring; and my supply of nuts ran out – so I bought more. Stanley was still around and friendlier than ever. A few times, he ventured past my screen door and onto my front porch, nearly entering my house. This is something which I did NOT mention to my wife until much later on, as she has a fear of rodents. But she soon became suspicious as our monthly budgeted allotment for nuts was repeatedly surpassed by a wide margin.
My wife became jealous and put her foot down. Someone had to go: either Stanley or her. It was up to me to decide. And since I was not legally wed to Stanley, I decided to opt for a human companion.
Tears of Separation
It wasn’t easy breaking the news to Stanley. At first he would jump onto my screen door and wait for me to appear. Not wanting to further hurt his feelings, I snuck out the back. Then he stopped waiting for me. He climbed back into his tree and joined his mates; though I could see him stare at me from afar every time I left the house – and I stared back with tears in my eyes.
The time came that we both knew that the only way we could move on was to put distance between us, so Stanley bought a ticket on the next Greyhound bound for Hollywood. He always had the show biz bug in his blood. I wished him good luck and packed him a small bag of walnuts for the trip.
I haven’t seen Stanley in years. I do get an occasional post card; and he never forgets to get in touch over the holidays. I hear he is doing well. His first job was in the Alvin and the Chipmunks Movie. He was hired as the stunt double for Theodore. Since talented squirrels are hard to find, he has maintained steady employment, most recently in the commercial for Direct TV. See if you can spot him.
I shall always miss my good buddy, Stanley. We had some good times. Merry Christmas, pal. Stay away from those crazy Hollywood parties. I don’t want to hear about you on “TMZ.”