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Things that'll drive you squirrelly

June 21, 1997

Sometimes I think (My brother Ralph would dispute that claim).

Sometimes I think about things that drive me crazy.

Tonight's the full moon, so I thought it fitting to get a couple of things out of my mind, off my chest and on to paper (or into cyberspace) today.

Following are my thoughts:

- Squirrels are clever, obnoxious, nasty little animals. One of a family of squirrels that hang out in my garden has learned how to remove and carry away in their entirety ears of dried corn I impale on spikes for ALL OF THEM to eat.

One day I watched from my kitchen as he went to one of two ears, grabbed it with its forepaws and twisted it up and off the spike. As it turned out, his ample little stomach was bigger than his biceps. He tried to carry the corn up a walnut tree, his head lolling from side to side from the weight of the cob. His head was swinging so far to each side I expected to see him in a neck brace the next morning.

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He teetered and tottered and finally dropped the ear to the ground, at which point he attempted to bury it.

Burying a kernel of corn is one thing. An ear is another.

I had to intervene out of concern for my garden phlox, which was being rapidly uprooted. I took the ear of corn back. That made the squirrel mad.

In the week that followed, he pulled out with his agile little paws four potted houseplants that I had put outside. He learned how to unscrew the top of the bird feeder, and eat its contents in one brief sitting. He climbed in a clay pot and relieved himself on the arugula I planned on having for dinner. And he did it when he knew I was watching.

Believe me when I say the size of a squirrel's brain has nothing whatsoever to do with its intelligence.

I'm going to start eating field corn and walnuts. Maybe it will increase my brain function.

- Boom boxes should be banned. The more I hear them, the more I hate them. When drivers come down the alley past my apartment loudly rapping up their day, I want to drown them in their own music.

I call them "drive-by boomers". They assault me daily. I think they all ought to be herded into a small closed space and forced to boom at full blast. Whoever goes deaf first gets a prize, and it isn't a hearing aid.

n Slugs (the slimy variety) do not deserve to live. They eat things you plant. Usually, the things you plant cost money, and time. Slugs devoured an entire fledgling clematis overnight in Little Eden this summer. They left a thin, skeletal stem I had bronzed in memory of the poor baby, which I had just planted.

Slugs stick to your shoes if you step on them. They stick to your soles if you're in your bare feet. (Animal activists take note: I do not write this from personal experience, but rather from experiences related to me by acquaintances. I DO NOT MISTREAT SLUGS.)

Oh, by the way, you may have heard that beer-filled saucers placed in the garden will get rid of slugs. Don't believe it. The beer will only attract more of them from other parts of the county. Slugs like a good party.

- Children who shriek, just for the fun of it, should be chastised. I used to giggle, but I never shrieked. I know a little girl, about 9, who rides her bike and shrieks a lot, mostly when she is right outside my windows. Her shrieks are shrill enough to explode wine glasses.

I'm glad I don't own any crystal.

Little girls who shriek should be told not to do that. They should be told that it annoys grouchy adults, and hurts their ears, and makes cats fly under beds.

I told this little girl that one day.

Her reaction?

She shrieked.

We should tell children that they must listen when we ask them not to shriek, because if they don't we will make their lips stick together so that they will never be able to shriek again.

Terry Talbert is a Herald-Mail staff writer.

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