I really can't stand squirrels.
They have nothing to do all day but figure out ways to chew through different parts of my house. They are agents of destruction. Pretty rats with bushy tails...at least rats have the courtesy to stay out of sight.
Our neighborhood is a squirrel haven. They run around in packs waking us up with their pre-dawn chatter about the delicious plants available in our gardens. They antagonize the dogs.
I admire their industriousness. I want to squish their tiny, evil-doing bodies with my car tires.
And then there's Bad Ass.
Bad Ass is the decrepit old-timer that lives in the oak outside our front window. Most squirrels scurry. Bad Ass takes his time. Most squirrels get by on their looks. Bad Ass ain't much to look at.
The bushy part of his tail is missing. It may have been ripped off by a hawk or a feral cat or trapped under an errant tire. His long, scraggly, naked tail trails behind him as he strolls along. It marks him as a veteran of hard times. Someone not to be tangled with.
In my imagination he's decades old, an ancient battle-axe, a hero to his squirrely kin. They gather around him and listen to the stories that he delivers in a gravelly voice with the beady-eyed squirrel equivalent of the thousand-yard stare.
Given his obvious toughness, he's probably the one that could cause me the most trouble. But I like him. Even when I see him gnawing on my siding as I leave for work in the morning I think, "Hey, there's Bad Ass, MY squirrel."
I don't know if kinship with a squirrel is a sign that I still have a good hold on my humanity or if it's an indication that I've gone 'round the bend.
This morning I saw the crows clustered around a roadkill as I stepped out of my front door. They flew away when I approached and watched me from the opposite side of the street. I glanced down as I walked by and caught a glimpse of a long, scraggly, naked tail.
I suppose I can't feel too badly about it. Bad Ass was clearly living on borrowed time. But it seems like he deserved to go out in more of a blaze of glory--carried off by an eagle or devoured by a snake. I hope the driver at least had to swerve to get him.
Rest in peace, Bad Ass. You will be missed.