daily preciousness

Saturday, July 29, 2000

Jesus and the albino squirrel

"JESUS" someone had written in large letters. It was on the Louisiana State University School of Music piano practice room door. Below the messianic headline, somebody had added, "…is not an ad campaign. …is not a status symbol. …is the way to everlasting life but not an appropriate subject for graffiti." I smiled when I read those clever comeback lines. Apparently there were musical Christians out there with a sense of decorum. Good for them.

I sat there, in a partially sound-proofed room -- that meat locker of a room -- just playing my scales. It was so frigid that I had to sit on my hands to warm them up. One scale, A#, was giving me a particularly difficult time yesterday. I'm not sure why.

I was the only person in the practice room. Quite possibly, I was the only person in the entire building. It was very lonely. But I logged a good hour of practice out of it. And I played my composition. Honestly, it wasn’t coming together yesterday. Maybe I was simply uninspired. Perhaps I was still running on auto-pilot after a long day at work. At work I tend to operate without really having to use my brain. I hate that. I wish it was a more intellectually challenging, so that I would be forced to wake up when I arrive at work in the morning.

The little finger on my left hand is still sore. It's been sore for days. I wonder if I broke it somehow. Is it possible to break a bone and not realize it? Probably. I suppose that could happen a number of ways.

I suspect it has something to do with the visitation I had yesterday by the albino squirrel. After work yesterday, I went to the university quadrangle to sit and read a book in the late afternoon sun. The library had just closed. It was 5:30 and the cute guy with nice calves was locking the front doors of the library.

I sat just outside its doors. There are comfortable wooden benches there. The seating is usually populated by nicotine addicts. So the wood has soaked in the odor. It’s like sitting on incense sticks. Only more sturdy and with better lumbar support than those little incense sticks could ever provide. So I sit and finish the last few chapters of Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club. Wonderful stuff. I’m so thrilled to be finishing the book, until… I have another visitation. It’s the albino squirrel again. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw him. I remember my futile little thought – "Oh, he won’t remember me. He won’t terrorize me. Probably doesn’t care one whit about me!" Not so.

With the speed and mischievous delight of a ferret, he leaped down from a trash bin toward me. His tail fluttered and his little red eyes sparkled with dark maliciousness. He pretended that he thought I had some food for him. But I saw through that. Does he think me a fool? No, I knew his game. He wanted to find out my new safehouse. He was spying on me, as usual. It’s the same old song played on the same miniature squirrel instrument. (It’s probably a woodwind.)

I slowly put down my book and returned the same glassy-eyed stare the little monster was casting my way. I had forgotten the intensity of that stare. That devious little animal was plotting against me as he picked up that apple core and started nibbling on it. I wasn’t going to fall for this little routine, though. I’m too smart for that. I got up and walked away, making a pitiful attempt at the nonchalant. But I had to try. There was a small chance that he would leave me alone if I had the huevos to keep my cool. But I knew the odds. And they were stacked against me.

I walked away as if everything were normal… as if my world hadn’t suddenly grown darker and colder in the presence of such a devilish little creature. I walked away, trying to breathe normally. I walked the unbearable 15 feet around the corner, then broke into a frantic sprint. I had to put as much distance between me and the squirrel as possible. His agents! They certainly would have already surrounded the area! His careful planning and plotting had decimated any thoughts I had of getting away without being followed. I knew what I had to do. I ducked into a Mexican restaurant nearby, on the pretense of meeting friends. After two margaritas, I was relaxed enough to grab onto a girl, as if I were some heterosexual male.

This disguise was clever enough to fool the squirrel and his minions. I had a friend pick me up at the restaurant, since I knew the squirrel agents would already be stationed around my car.

I won – this round, at least. I just hope that I can manage to get away that easily the next time the squirrel comes around. I don’t want a repeat of the December 4th incident. I still bear the scars from that conflict, emotionally and physically.

And my roommate Jim had to nurse after me for a week after that incident. No, I can’t let that happen again.

Hold me.


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