Tuesday, October 10, 2006
In order to tell this story, I have to explain about the layout of my apartment. At first, I was nervous about revealing too many details about where I live, but I think it's okay; I live so far out in Queens, that stalkers aren't a problem. Hell, the people I invite out here don't want to make the trip, what would a stalker do?
I'd probably get a letter written in blood: "LIAM JESUS TOLD ME WE ARE MARRIED IN BLOOD AND WE ARE GOING TO LIVE TOGETHER FOREVER AFTER I CHOP YOUR FEET OFF. HEY WOULD YOU MIND DOING THIS OUT IN BROOKLYN? I DON'T FEEL LIKE TAKING THE TRAIN OUT THANKS."
So, I live on the fourth floor of my apartment building. The kitchen window is at a ninety-degree angle to the window of the small bedroom that I use as an office (don't be mad; I live alone in a two-bedroom apartment) and between the two is a fire escape; the fire escape railing points at, and leads into the wall outside of, the small bedroom window.
I was taking a shower Friday morning, and sometimes when I shower I leave the bathroom door open so that I can listen to my CD player. This fine day I had Tom Waits' Rain Dogs playing in the small bedroom. And halfway through Downtown Train, I started hearing a screeching, like a bird dying. It happened at regular intervals, on the beat of the song, so I assumed that the CD player - a cheap job bought at Target a couple years ago - was finally dying. But then the screeching got more emphatically animal, and at quicker intervals.
I got out of the shower and dressed and walked into the small bedroom. The CD player was behaving normally, but sitting on the fire escape outside the window, four stories up, where it definitely did not belong, was a big ol' squirrel. It was facing my window, screeching. So I paused the music and approached the window.
It didn't seem to notice me, so I did what anyone who is already a little bit crazy and maybe spends more time alone than he should would do; I talked back to it. Clearly, it had opened the lines of communication. I said, "Looks like you're lost, buddy."
At this it stared at me, cocked its head and raised a paw to its chest, as if to say, "Who, me?"
Then it screeched at me.
So I said, "Yeah, you. Now, I'd help you down, but you'd just bite the shit out of me."
It then cocked its head at me the other way, raised its other paw to its chest, as if to say, "Me? Bite you? Heavens!"
And it screeched at me again.
And I said, "Yes, you. Don't act all surprised.
It screeched at me. It looked terrified - I could see its tiny little squirrel heart beating in its chest. It was breathing really heavily. I'd never seen an animal have a panic attack - hell I'd never seen an animal have a heart attack, and I was afraid this would be my first. Instead it jumped backwards a foot.
We had a back-and-forth like this for a few minutes, until it calmed down a bit, and then faced the street that the fire escape overlooks, and screeched loudly, as if calling out dramatically to a lost love. It then ran face-first down the fire escape ladder, all four stories, climbed down the brick wall, and bounded to freedom across the grass beneath,
I was stymied by this squirrel's behaviour. That was way too high for a squirrel - it was the first I'd ever seen on that fire escape in my twenty-odd years on This Planet Earth,
Near as I can figure, there's three possible explanations:
1. There was some kind of bad trouble, and just lIke Lassie, the squirrel had come to warn me. If this is true, I'm not surprised it didn't work; I've always known that if I was the star of Lassie, Timmy would be a skeleton at the bottom of a well. I'm just no damn good at guessing games.
2. My parents declared a fatwa on squirrels at their house a few years ago, trapping them and driving them to a park many miles away so they wouldn't find their way back. Perhaps this squirrel was a relative, sending me a warning: "You send one of ours to Forest Park, we send one of yours to the morgue."
I fear that I'm going to see a delicious peanut butter sandwich in a cage on the street, walk in, and wake up in Macombe Dam Park with no idea how to get home.
3. It's mating season, and Tom Waits sounds like a squirrel in heat. Perhaps that squirrel planned to meet her on a downtown train.
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If you're in New York City tonight, I'll be doing a charity fundraiser show. I don't know the whole lineup, but Letterman's Eddie Brill is on the show, so it should be good:
LAUGH for LAF Comedy Challenge fundraiser for the Lance Armstrong Foundation
Date: Tuesday Oct. 10th, 7 pm to 9 pm Location: The Cutting Room
19 W. 24th Street, between 6th Street and Broadway
$15 donation at the door
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Speaking of things that'll make you horny, here's one of my favorite Monty Python sketches ever. It's from the kinda patchy fourth season (John Cleese had left at that point to do Fawlty Towers), but this is a truly colossal accomplishment. Enjoy, "The Most Awful Family In Britain":