Sunday, October 9, 2011

Guess Who's Back?

Besides a giant hickory tree that serves as the boundary between my next-door neighbor and me, most of the trees on my little patch of Shangri-La are oaks.  For those who've never been, which is most of you (I hope), we bought this house, Tootsie and I, because of its uniqueness: The guy who built the house did so on a triple lot and then some, and let most of the land grow free, so I have this little patch of woods, almost an acre's worth, right in the middle of suburbia - it's actually pretty cool. In the summer it fills out such that I can't see any of my neighbors from my back yard.

Anyway, one side effect of all these oak trees is a million billion acorns, many of which pelt the house as they fall, which they do this time of year by the hundreds.  And with acorns come squirrels. Oh, do I have squirrels. On my property alone there are near 100.  Different clans, too:  I have a family of black squirrels living back there among the grey ones. But they don't bother me, and I don't bother them - I kinda like the idea that I'm sharing the joint with critters who believe just as firmly that this is their property as I do. So they've long since ceased to cower at my presence, and will usually continue what they're doing with half an eye on my until I go back inside or reach my car.

Imagine my surprise, then, as I was standing outside the other day, enjoying the fair weather, when one of the furry little bastards walks right up to me, looking directly at me with neither fear nor hostility. He had an acorn in his little hands and he held it out to me.

"This is for you," he said, in perfect English.  It was a voice I'd heard before.

"A squirrel?" I asked, incredulously.  "Really?"

In the blink of an eye the squirrel disappeared and there before me stood, yet again, the Almighty.  He was dressed in a pair of blue jeans, crisply pressed, and an Oxford shirt with a thin red pinstripe.  His Italian leather loafers were completely spotless, despite the fact that He'd just been a squirrel.

"Wanted to blend in," He said, and smiled. "Besides, it's a nice day to be in the woods."

"Well, come on in," I said, trying to sound hospitable. "It's been awhile.  You find someone else to torment?"

"Been dealing a lot with the hurricane.  You children named it Irene.  What a funny habit, to name your natural disasters."

"That's what You've been doing lately?" I asked, with an edge to my voice.  "Concocting natural disasters?  What, You need to thin out the herd or something?"

He looked at me for a long second.  

"Cleanup," He said slowly. "I was helping with cleanup.  You think I like these things?  But maybe you don't want an atmosphere with moving air, so that what you breathe is fresh and clean, despite your best efforts to foul it.  Or perhaps you don't want moisture in your air, so it doesn't rain and you all perish for lack of clean water? Or is it that you don't want it to be warm ever?  Just say the word, big boy, and I can make that happen too."

"Ok, it's not Your fault, I guess, but You sure as hell allowed it to happen."

"Allowed it to happen?" He asked with eyebrows raised.  Hey, I invented the system.  Sometimes, things happen.  You know, that's so you, that attitude.  You know what your problem is?"

"No conversation ended well that began with 'Do you know what your problem is,'" I said with a half smile. "But I suppose You know that too."

"Your problem," He continued, "Is that you can't let anything go.  Ever."

Momentarily at a loss, I responded in a voice that trembled a bit, "I...I let things go..."

"Please," spat the Lord.  "Name one thing.  A member of your family wrongs you, twenty-odd years ago, and you're still harboring that. It's affected your relationship with his children, because of the walls you've put up. Your father died three and a half years ago and you're still reeling from that.  Three and a half years, child! Everybody loses their parents.  Would you have it the other way around? And you've lost other things too, some things you hold to be just as precious as losing a family member.  More so, if I read your heart correctly, which by the way we're going to have to have a chat about that some one of these days. You think that every good and true thing, everything that ever made you laugh, everyone you ever loved, every great pleasure or tiny joy, should stay with you forever.  And even considering the blink of an eye that is your time on this planet, forever is way too long a concept for you."

"So what do I do about it? I've noticed that You're pretty good telling me what's wrong with me - and by the way it's just fantastic that someone else besides the wife does that - but how do I fix it?"

His eyes softened and He motioned for me to sit.

"It has to come from within you, child. I can't help you.  Just being here I'm violating my own rules.  But you're hurting, you are hurting so badly, and you really have no reason to.  You dwell on the wrong things, to your detriment."

"You violate Your own rules?" I asked with an upturned eyebrow.  You're Your own scofflaw?"

"See?" He said with a smile. "Dwelling on the wrong things."

"Listen," I said. "These...things that I've lost.  They're - they were - precious to me.  More precious than anything else I've ever had or will have. You have no idea.  Or maybe You do. But it really doesn't matter.  Knowing what my problem is - and thanks so much for pointing it out to me - doesn't help me much."

"I know," He said sadly. "I wish I could snap my fingers and make it go away.  Actually I can do that, but I'm not going to.  This is something that you're going to have to come up with an answer to all by yourself.  And while you sit there and stew on it, your life is running away with you.

"Look," He continued. "I have to go.  But you need to hear this:  It's not critically important that you fix this today.  Things take time - I know that. I invented the whole idea of time.  I invented things. So I guess I invented the notion of things taking time. That was actually pretty clever of Me. You know, it's been awhile since I invented anything big, like time, or things, or tapioca pudding.  Yeah, that was Me.  I should get back into the lab..."

"You're digressing," I said wearily.

"Right, right.  Sorry.  Anyway, yes, it's going to take time.  But the important thing is this: You've got to start trying. What you've lost - those things are gone.  They're gone forever, and no amount of moping around playing sad songs on your guitar is going to help."

He patted me on the shoulder and stood up.

"But now I've really got to go.  It's almost winter and these acorns aren't going to gather themselves." He opened the screen door and in a flash He was a squirrel again.  "Last thing, some of the squirrels are deliberately pelting your house with acorns.  I'll try to get them to stop.  THAT won't be easy, either." With a wave He turned and scampered back into the woods.

"What do you know," I thought to myself.  "God scampers pretty well."

"Dwelling on the wrong things..." I heard from far away.


  1. Giant hickory tree....where have I heard that before?

    And God is right! You do dwell!

  2. wanna hear something else funny? My evil neighbor, who I've always just referred to as "Dunbar..." - her name is Josephine. Just found that out the other day.

  3. Wolfie, Jo is referring to a slam poetry contest that she and I had many moons ago. The final entry - mine - ended in my suggesting that Josie's lady parts were large enough such that they could accommodate a hickory tree. I should add that the consensus of the entire table was that I won said contest, though J would aver otherwise. Josie, you think it's time to break out the sacred scrolls and tell the world? Do you still have them?

  4. Actually I just think she has sex on her dirty little mind

  5. You thought you won the poetry contest but I KNOW that I won it.

    you said that I could accomodate a hickory tree AND that I was a bad mommy. I'm offically mad at you AGAIN.

  6. im sure i have them somewhere....but im also sure everyone would say that you won because everyone loves to infuriate me.

  7. @Wolfie: Emphasis on little. And whoever she's imagining having sex with in that disgusting whore's den that is her mind, you can rest safely assured it's not me.

    @Jos: Forgot I called you a bad Mommy. Tee hee... the worst thing you said about me was that I was small-dicked, which is a dirty lie. Dirty and a little sweaty.

  8. Wolfie's right!

    "...And whoever she's imagining having sex with in that disgusting whore's den that is her mind..."

    wow, great line!

  9. "Actually I just think she has sex on her dirty little mind"

    Geez Wolf -- you carted her Italian butt around for a few days and just figured that out? Sheesh.

  10. @Light: A word of advice, my friend: Get away from Josie's butt. It might take a passport and a plane ticket, but get away from the butt. And whatever you do, NEVER look it directly in its eye.

    Oh, no he didn't.

    Oh, yes he did.

  11. sleep with one eye open, and not THAT eye.

  12. Great post...and some hilarious comments as well..