Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Squirrel With Nerves Of Steel

When I pulled up in front of my apartment there was a squirrel walking across the stoop leading into the house. Overwhelmed by mischief, I honked the horn. Instead of scurrying off as quickly as tiny legs would carry, the squirrel moved slightly out of the way, stopped, quickly surveyed the area, assessed no danger, and continued the journey at the original leisurely pace.

It was amazing. A calculated response to overwhelming stimuli.

In everyday life, I usually try to employ similar restraint.  Two stories of scares gone boring spring to mind.

I was a part of a traveling music group in college. We drove to random churches, and church type functions, and sang for people. Usually, we were in nearby cities or small towns. Once, a church in the Poconos paid to have us drive three hours, stay in their homes and sing at their church. The whole experience with the group was a lot of fun.

For a particular concert we were called out to Absolutely Nowhere, Pennsylvania. I suppose I shouldn’t categorize it as Nowhere. A better name for the place we ended up would be, Setting-Of-a-Horror-Film, Pennsylvania. We survived the drive past tree and shacks that looked like they were snatched right out of Scooby-Doo episodes. The concert went well. I even seem to recall delicious food being served.

As I walked out of the building, and started down the steps leading to the parking lot, a hand grabbed my ankle from beneath the stairs. I was startled, but the only indication of that was a slight pause in my breathing. I looked around, and quickly realized that the rest of my team was looking at me, and not with any measurable concern. Rather, they all had more expectant looks on their faces. And, one member of the team was notably absent. I sighed, and just waited. Eventually, the hand got bored and withdrew. “Dang it Morris, you’re far too calm.”

 The second story is similar. A few friends and I were exploring the mostly empty house that an acquaintance had just bought. Being a clothes and fashion guy, I circled around to the front closet. When I opened it, two of my friends shouted, “Boo,” or some variant thereof. Despite the mild fright it gave me, I managed to stare blankly into their faces as their fright inducing poses were rendered more and more ridiculous. “Well... now this is just awkward,” one of them intoned as they slid past me.


I like to think that, as opposed to defying the evolutionary imperative to escape a potential threat, the squirrel was getting even with me on behalf of those three people, and the host of others who have failed to elicit a reaction to their scare tactics.