Friday, February 17, 2006
There were these terrible noises in my house. I was living alone and couldn't imagine where they were coming from. I wasn't using that much of my house. The master bedroom is on the first floor and on the second floor I have two bedrooms a full bath and my "study," a loft room with a really pretty window and my books and computer, etc.
One day I walked into the front bedroom and noticed that there was a lot of plastery stuff all over the bed. It looked like something was trying to claw its way into the room. I had no idea what, but it was wrecking my house and it wasn't invited so I called the guy who lives across the street from my brother (he's an exterminator) to come and see what my problem was. I found out that there was a little entrance, of sorts, to my attic from the outside of the house. It's a strange little opening where wood had been pushed aside and squirrels were getting in. Unfortunately there was no way into the attic from inside my house.
According to the exterminator guy and his colleague, they would rid my home of the little pests and they had a variety of ways to go about it. Now, let me preface this part of the tale to say that I was a little uneasy about calling this guy to begin with. I'd never actually seen Exterminator guy sober. I had seen him drunk and with a 12 pack in hand, pounding on my brother's back door and yelling to my then teenaged cousin, who was babysitting my niece and nephew, to let him in before his wife saw him. Now, poor Little Squirt had no idea who this guy was and wasn't really of a mind to throw open the door and let this lunatic in the house and his demeanor wasn't setting her at ease. I saw him with hidden bottles of cheap wine at the community pool, where booze was not allowed, tossing out everything in MY cooler for said booze, at my nephew's 4th birthday party. But, I was told he was good at his job and I thought maybe he'd stop by during a sober hour or two to look into my varmint situation.
Exterminator Guy sent his underling to come by and check out what was going on. Within 15 minutes of him being at my house I knew all about why he had been forced to move back home with his mother. He decided to put traps around my property to catch the squirrels. He told me that he would come and check the traps every couple of days and if he caught any squirrels, they would have to be taken so many miles away and over water, otherwise they would just come back. He planned on taking them out of state to his mother's house to release them. I nodded and smiled, just like they say you should when in the presence of crazy people. I started to imagine the suburban squirrels being released in the city and how they'd have to learn to adapt to the faster urban pace. The traps caught one squirrel and considering all the trees in my yard and neighborhood, he wasn't necessarily a squirrel that was exercising his squatter's rights in my attic.
Exterminator guy and his underling called and/or stopped by my house regularly over the course of the next week. By the end of the week, they were frustrated with their lack of results. They decided to take more drastic action. They come into my house armed with poisonous bait. They tell me that it would be really bad if squirrels were to die in my attic since there was no access to it to clean out their little trespassing corpses, so they were putting in little bags of bait. They cut a hole in the ceiling of the front bedroom and tossed up bags of, I imagined, nutty smelling goodness to attract the little buggers, sealed up the hole with lots of shiny silver duct tape and left. The squirrels were supposed to eat the bait, get really thirsty and run off to find a charming little trickling stream nearby (and I actually have a few of those in the neighborhood, so ... Score!) where they would sate their thirst. Then, the bait would swell up, or something like that and, as I thought it would happen, they would stagger around dramatically with their backs of their little paws slung over their eyes and heads as they coughed, sputtered and died. I wasn't really looking to kill squirrels. I just didn't want them to live in my house. They were not contributing members of the household and I already had Pickles loafing around, like the little doggy deadbeat that he is.
A few days later I came home from work as usual. I pull up in my driveway, let myself in the house and then I let Pickles out with his tennis ball to take care of his business and stretch his legs before I give him his dinner. Or, as I usually refer to it, I empty the dog and then I fill him back up. I made the mistake of shutting the back sliding glass door behind me and forgetting that the lock was broken and locked myself out. While living alone, I got used to locking the door behind me when I came into the house. So, my keys are in the house and I am outside. I have to climb over my fence (no gate) in my work clothes, leaving Pickles to howl at my leaving him and walk over to my parents house, hoping someone would be home to give me my spare key. As I walked around to the front of my house, I looked up and was shocked by the scene. Looking out of my house at me, from the little opening, was a squirrel! Here I was locked out of my house and the squirrel, the squirrel, was inside warm and cozy and he was mocking me. I was incensed. I was a raving lunatic. I certainly hope that no one saw what I did in response to this sight. I was jumping up and down and gesticulating wildly while yelling at this squirrel. "You get out of my house right this minute!" "You get down here right now! I mean it!" He looked down at me, turned and popped back into the hole. I always wanted to be The Road Runner, but instead they were making me the Wile E. Coyote.
Once I got back into my house, I immediately left the most ridiculous message on Exterminator Guy's answering machine. Something to the effect that I would not be mocked by those trespassing little rodents. That they had the nerve to stare right out of my house at me. That they had to go. I was just a smidge beside myself. A little later he called me back and while trying to stifle his laughter from my message, agrees to end the madness.
An hour or so later, there is a knock at my door. I open it and watch as a troop of dirty exterminating personal all troop through my house, up my stairs and into my spare bedroom. They are hauling ladders and boxes and standing on the bed, while they unleash all of their terrible comedic, squirrel killing arsenal. They run back and forth, up and down, in and out of my house. They are tripping over each other and shouting. They make a bigger hole in the ceiling and set off some kind of smoke bomb to drive the squirrels out. Then they seal up the hole with more duct tape, close the bedroom door and all run back outside to count the asphyxiating squirrels. Of course, I am picturing them stumbling out of the hole, coughing pitifully while holding their furry little tales over their mouths and noses. I didn't see what it actually looked like. There was enough confusion with Tweedle Dee, Tweedle Dum and the Three Stooges doing their silent film Keystone Kop comedy act as they tumbled and tripped over each other in the big squirrel raid of 2001. When they were satisfied that they had rid my house of the squirrel menace, they blocked off the hole with lots of mesh and fresh wood to keep any new intruder-wanna bes out.
I think that exterminator underling guy was kind of sweet on me. He would find reasons to stop by and make sure I wasn't having any squirrel problems. Luckily, Mr. Handsome Honey came into my life and his ever more present presence kind of clued the underling in to the situation.
My house has been squirrel free for a few years now, but I am still pretty sure that they view me with contempt when we see each other in the neighborhood. I see them giving me dirty looks. I'm the one who had their little friends and relatives deported. I'm sure they've got cousins getting warmed by the steam from subway grates, instead of all the heat rising into my attic. I don't mind the squirrels. I think they are cute. They are welcome to all of the 8 gazillion acorns that fall into my yard from my enormous trees every year. They are just not allowed to bury them in my ceilings and I don't want them in the house. I don't think that makes me such a bad person. You just know there is a picture of me hanging up in little squirrel post offices.