Aprehension and nervousness have begun to take over my once, relaxed body, as I prepare to embark on yet another journey to my neighboring state of Illinois.
You may recall the last time I visited this state, when my family and I were alerted to the dangers of the boxing deer, in the area we were staying…The kind of deer that travel in large packs, and have the capability of leaving a human for dead, if not punched in the kidneys in time to be released from its muscular haunches…
My family and I are INCREDIBLY smart, and we became curious if these deer maulings were actually common place, or if it was just a hoax that the local pranksters were playing on us.
So, we asked our waitress if she had heard of this deer bullying phenomenon. She looked confused, which proved to us right away that our touristy legs were being pulled. She said “Well, we do have alot of deer here, but Ive never heard of them attacking people”!
There was a pause in her speech, where we all giggled, feeling foolish about our newfound deer phobia, but what she said next, stopped us dead in our deer tracks!! She said “Its the Carbondale squirrels you should worry about! They will chase you and attack you for no reason”!
Our nervous laughter, mixed with the pointed fingers in her direction, left her deciding whether we were laughing in fear….Or at her! Still, she carried on with her story.
She told us that the campus squirrels were the most dangerous. She said to always be aware of our surroundings, because they are always looking at you in thier periphery. She then went a little further to say that it is common to be standing in a circle, visiting with your friends over a cup of coffee, and out of nowhere see a squirrel sprinting towards you…or your friend.. whoever is its intended victim.
I nervously asked what we should do, if this happens to us, when we are out on our own. She replied by saying “DROP YOUR COFFEE AND RUN”!
At this point I went into a dream state….
I could see myself starting off my new life on the college campus. I was proud to call myself a Carbondale
Squirrel Terrier, the toughest mascot of all the Southern Illinois colleges. It was my first day of school and I wanted to make a good impression. I was wearing a darling yellow sundress, with giant white polka dots. My hair was done in a sensible braid. My sandals had more of a heel than I was used to, but I was dressed to impress. I had my brand new back pack on, and had ordered a fancy coffee at the local starbucks, for extra flair.
I was walking innocently to class, trying hard not to trip, or do anything to embarrass myself in front of a prospective new college friend…or better yet, a hunky boyfriend that may have been playing a game of frisby golf in the front yard of the fraternity.
As if it was a dream come true in that instant of my thoughts, the frisby hit a tree, bounced off, and landed right at my feet! The tan man, wearing only a nice pair of pecs, a speedo, and a tasteful pair of athletic shoes came to fetch it. I smiled, as I handed it back to him, grazing his muscular thumb in the process. I was playing bashful, and it was working!
Just as he was writing down his phone number for me, I saw something out of the corner of my eye. It was fast, it had hair, and it had a purpose. As a kid, I had heard horror stories about the Carbondale squirrels, but up until this point, I thought they were simply Urban Myths.
It was still a block away, and I had hoped I still had time to gather my new friends number, before I had to run…but I didnt.
He kept forgetting his number, saying “I never call myself”. I laughed nervously, and looked back to the creature soaring towards me. I could now see the whites of its teeth, and I had to run. Oh did I run!
My right heel broke off immediately, leaving me running at an awkward angle. I dropped my new backpack, because the weight was too much to carry. As I was trying to push the bottom of my flowy sundress out of my eyes, I found myself wishing I had done my laundry and worn a nicer, less raggedy pair of underwear under this dress, but before I could finish that thought, it happened…
That squirrel lunged at me, landing in my hair. Its teeth seemed to bore into my scalp, while I made every attempt to punch it in the kidneys to get it to release me. I fell to the ground, using my flexibility to try to kick it off the top of my head. It was no use.
Finally, I was left with one last strategy…I dropped the Starbucks cup! The squirrel released its hold on me, picked up the cup, took a sip, winked at me, and went on his way.
I stood up on what shoe I had left, and brushed my skirt back down, dusting clumps of dirt off in the process. Most of my braid was pulled out of the rubber band. I looked up to see all of my new prospective friends giggling and pointing in my direction.
With what pride I had left, I looked back at the tan man with the number. With what energy I had left, I raised my hand and waved in a motion that said “Lets just forget it okay”? Then, I turned and walked away.
Now, as I am sitting here drinking coffee at my dining room table, I am thankful that this story is only a part of my imagination. I only hope that the Jacksonville squirrels are nicer than the Carbondale squirrels, and that I make my way home safely without incident, as I did the last time. Wish me luck!:)