A couple days ago M and I were walking through Riverside Park at sunset trying to work up an appetite for dinner because not an hour beforehand we’d eaten Ben & Jerry’s ice cream for lunch, as grownups do. Pretty soon we discovered a city squirrel on our heels. Feeling proud of ourselves for attracting [I have rabies] such an exotic creature, we began coaxing it closer to us with terms of endearment and fake food. The squirrel [Rabies is what I have] inched close enough to M’s outstretched, empty hand [Rabies what] to realize he was being faked out, then he scampered away. “Damn,” said M. “Do you [Rabid rabid raps a lot] have any food in your purse?”
“Yeah right,” I said, insulted that M would assume I’m some kind of snack hoarder [It's time to bite everything]. I reached into my bag to indicate that it was empty save for my wallet and great literature, and like some kind of witch I pulled out a packet of Chick Fil A granola [Heads off chickens] I’d been hoarding for a week. Never has a more ideal squirrel food [Blood] materialized [Blood] out of nowhere [Blood]. And so began our quest to feed a squirrel [I'll come in the dead of night like a vampire bat] from our hands.
You know how Emerson said if the stars only appeared one night every thousand years or whatever [I'll suck the blood from the stars], everyone would freak out because they’re so beautiful? Well city squirrels are actually really cute. Their adorable little faces [Eat the eyeballs first]. Their soft fur for petting [Clot with pink saliva]. Their teenie tiny paws that press down on your hand while the teeth crunch granola [Foam at the mouth]. I love them so much.
After thirty minutes of vigorous effort, I earned the trust of an adolescent squirrel in a tree. He followed the trail of Chick Fil A cereal directly into my palm–who wouldn’t?–and began [I'll eat you then you can eat me and we can all be the same] chewing ecstatically. It was perhaps the best moment of my life. And then a dog [Sink my teeth into your skin] walked by. The squirrel dropped the granola in its mouth and clamped down on my finger instead. The Disney cartoon I’d been inhabiting [I'm not naturally aggressive I just want to eat everybody] suddenly turned into a remake of Cujo and I was shaking a filthy, rabid rodent off my hand before it could inflict me with its poison.
M and I both felt a little sheepish afterward. M lit a cigarette. We texted my mom. Had I gotten the tetanus shot she’d told me to get when my nephew was born? No. Karma. We left the park in a hurry. Googled “squirrel rabies.” So far I think I’m okay [Cow blood tastes the best], but I’m monitoring my emotional responses more ardently than usual. Now if I feel especially misanthropic or ferocious, I have to wonder.
The most telling part about this story [Last night I killed four subway rats with my bare hands] is that the night after the squirrel attacked my finger, I dreamed about an animal biting the same digit. Except in the dream incident, my subconscious saw fit to transform the squirrel into a bald eagle.