If she were to believe such modern-day classics as Dawson’s Creek, my mother might have expected, at some point in my teenage years, to catch me in bed with a boyfriend. Neither of us would have guessed I would be found with a squirrel.
Two nights before, my mother had pried a hole into the wall of her bedroom to release a squirrel that had made its way through a hole in the roof and scuttled and scratched his way down. This interrupted her HGTV viewing and had to be stopped. I returned the next day from a sleepover. I should have been drinking illicitly at a party in an abandoned factory like the cool kids, but instead, my friends and I were marathoning Pretear, a 13-episode anime series that reimagined Snow White. She showed me the cardboard patch covering the hole beside her nightstand.
I returned home from school Monday afternoon ready to complete my Calculus homework while snacking on store brand Goldfish crackers and watching reruns of M*A*S*H*. But the squirrel had returned. Back through the roof, he had wound through the walls and easily broke through the cardboard reinforcements. I found him clinging to the blinds of my mother’s bedroom window.
I closed the door. In my haze, I could barely hear the jocular camaraderie of Captains Pierce and Honeycutt. Outside, I wrestled the screens off of the window. When I returned to my mother’s bedroom, the squirrel had hidden himself somewhere. Tip-toeing to the window, I pulled up the blinds, opened the window, and retreated. By the time my mother returned home from work, all trace of the squirrel was gone. We assumed he had found his way out the window.
I went to bed promptly at 10:30. At some point in my childhood, the parent-mandated bedtime became my own self-enforced habit for school nights. I allowed myself no exceptions. My mother kissed me goodnight at the side of my bed as I set my glasses aside. Glasses have been my constant companion since I failed the eye test in elementary school. Without them, I can’t read the big “E” at the top of the chart. My only failing grade.
As my head set against the pillow and my body began to relax into its sleeping repose, a vaguely brown blur shot out from underneath it and past my face.
I grasped for my glasses. He was sitting at the end of my bed.
My mother, rushing back, shut the door and instructed me to open my window, which had no screen. We spent the next 30 minutes attempting to coax the squirrel into the dark night of our backyard. We adopted tense Sumo-wrestling style postures, which were quickly abandoned to avoid actual contact when the squirrel scampered in the wrong direction. We finally made progress when we borrowed some food from Robin, my cat, who looked on only vaguely concerned from the living room. Following a trail of dry meat-flavored tidbits, the squirrel finally stepped out nonchalantly. I promptly slammed the window shut behind him.
Crawling back into bed, I tried not to think about how the squirrel might have passed the time between the afternoon and the night’s climax. The next day, I found casual ways to draw the conversation towards my interesting interlude with the squirrel. My mother continues to buy me random knick-knacks with squirrels on them to this day. We all survived the infamous squirrel incident. All except my hot water bottle bunny, who lost his pink plastic nose to the invader.