“How can you not see the holes in the yard?!”

My husband widened his eyes in disbelief, incredulous that I hadn’t noticed the path of destruction on our front lawn caused by legions of marauding squirrels. But I saw in his searching expression that he needed to believe it was lack of observation. He couldn’t allow himself, not yet at least, to think that perhaps I was in some sense complicit by turning a blind eye.

I should say right up front that I couldn’t give a rat’s ass about the squirrels. I genuinely don’t see the holes, I don’t think anyone’s yard looks good in the winter anyway, and I’ve got bigger mental fish to fry. Speaking of rats, I’ve always viewed squirrels as gross rodents. Rats with a better PR team, I’d say, when for some reason the subject had turned to such rankings — usually while being skeeved out by both groups of them in Central Park or on the Mall. But now I found myself silently rooting for the squirrels.

Why? Because after years of complaining about them digging holes all over the yard — allegedly, because again, I don’t see it — he’d decided it was the year to finally take action. Alliances were formed, a neighbor with traps enlisted. And then, the centerpiece of the battle plan unveiled: Squirrel transport.

For some reason, my husband has the impression that one merely needs to transport the squirrels six miles and over a body of water for them to remain forever banished. Not five. Not seven. Not dry land.

“Six miles and over a body of water.” He said those exact words. The 1892 Farmer’s Almanac had come to life and was standing in my kitchen in the form of a sandy blond, six-foot-tall Texan sucking down his tenth Diet Coke of the day, amped up on caffeine and the bravado of men preparing for battle as they have since Thermopylae.

There would be no slaughter though. No tiny heads on pikes lining our driveway. We were in effect to become the bus to the country for the squirrels, where we would release them for a better life and miles of farmland. The Squirrel Jitney.

Correction: He would. I believed this plan to be insane and wanted no part of it. Also, I was completely grossed out by the idea of them thrashing around in the trunk of my car. It wouldn’t matter though, I thought, because what squirrel would be dumb enough to get caught in a giant, obvious metal cage baited with a few measly peanuts?

Day 1
The dumbest squirrels on the East Coast live in our neighborhood.

Me, answering phone at work: “Hello?”
Him: “Four! We got four! And it’s only the first day!”
Me: “Wow. That’s really something. OK, I gotta go.”

Day 2
Me: “Are you washing your hands after you move those cages? Because those things are crawling with vermin and rabies.”
Him: “Yeah. I mean, sort of I guess. (pause) Do you have any hand sanitizer in your bag?”

Day 3
Me: “Is there like, a tarp down in the trunk? Because I put the groceries back there.”
Him: “Yeah.”
Me: <opens the trunk><finds a piece of cardboard the size of a notepad in the vast ocean of unprotected trunk><closes trunk><goes inside and pours a glass of wine>

Day 4
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Me: “Hello?”
Him: “We got 6!”
Me: “I’m hanging up now.”

Day 5
My father baits a trap with a Diet Coke can and says the squirrels must be mounting a counter attack. I find it hilarious. Later, husband oh-so-casually checks to make sure the integrity of the trap still stands after the hooliganism.

Day 6
Image
This appears on the hood of our freshly washed car. It’s a destroyed apple, teeth marks evident across its moldering surface. The squirrels really are mounting a counter attack. Shots fired.

Day 7
Me: “You know that in the Pixar movie they would make about this, you’re the big human jerk terrorizing the little animals, right? Or like, say this was Fantastic Mr. Fox…you’re Boggis, Bunce and Bean. That’s on you, dude.”

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Day 8
Him, via text message: “Came home and there were four in the driveway. They’re hunting in packs now.”

Day 9
Me: “Hello?”
Him: “Ten!”
Me: “You know I have an important job, right? Like, I make a difference in people’s lives?”
Him: “Tennnnn!”

And so it goes. The battle rages on. I am reminded of Hemingway’s resignation to such things: “Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can ever happen in war.”
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