There are many conspiracy theories. Most of them are quite silly.
But there is another theory, my Mother's. The Squirrels-Turning-Humans-Into-Their-Slave-Race theory. She believes that inside a squirrel's tiny, furry head and behind its active, black eyes, lies a diabolical mind intent on inflecting bizarre, endless pain. She believes that a squirrels itinerary culminates in a world razed to the ground, a burying place for nuts and peeled fruit. The corpses they have piled like cordwood.
It's laughable, right? A squirrel is cute and curious. It gallops along telephone wires. It has small, clawed hands incapable of writing up an agenda for world domination. All it wants is an orange. And maybe a crust or two of bread.
But last Saturday, I wasn't laughing.
Boyfriend's garage is – by fabulous good luck – less than three blocks from a very admirable book store. This store has stacks, boxes, tables and shelves of books – and lingering amidst their dusty wordiness is the Store Cat. A victim of early abuse, she is nearly toothless, with only one eye – yet she still maintains her feline loveliness. A cat never loses its beauty.
But I digress. I had walked some steps towards this haven, when I was aware of a small creature by my foot – only a few inches away. It was a squirrel – healthy, well-fed, and clearly seeing me as a mark for its next meal.
I walked on – the squirrel followed, closely. I picked up the pace, as did this Sciuridae stalker. I was getting nervous – I certainly didn't want to make it angry, lest it hit me with a rabies stick, or something equally nefarious.
I hurried across the street. This confused it slightly. It stood on its haunches, considering whether I was worth the pursuit. I was. It ran across the street too, but ahead of me, taking a page from the Schleifflein plan – the move the Germans executed in 1914 to encircle the French troops on the German border.
That was enough for me. I couldn't stand up against an animal which had the complete Prussion playbook memorized. I ran back to Boyfriend.
Boyfriend responds to all of my panics – when I inform him, "We have a spider situation in the bathroom", when I get slaughtered by a wave, when a squirrel attacks – with jovial laughter. But he accomapnied me past the impact zone.
So, I was able to proceed. I bought a book about Aubrey Beardsley. I bought a book of Lewis Carroll's photographs. I bought a biography of Madame du Pompadour for $1.
Were they worth it? Books are always worth it; and no squirrel attack – despite its intensity, no matter how sophisticated – will make me think otherwise.