Attacked by Squirrels….A Cricklewood Road Tale
Kids run into things, right? It’s what they do. I was certainly no exception. As a matter of fact I excelled at running into things. If it was an Olympic event, I’d be the gold medalist. I ran into the tail pipe of Mr. Dooley’s old rambler once, not while he was driving of course, I was never that fast. No, I was just running around his driveway playing tag or something, and smashed my little five year old knee into the rusty, dirty and disgusting tail pipe of his white rambler as I ran by, and ripped at least an ounce of flesh off my knee. Okay, maybe not that much but it still sucked and dam did that hurt.
No gold medal, just five stitches and a tetanus shot I got for that one. And a 50 year old scar that’s still shiny and can be squeezed to make it fold up and wink at me like an eye when I’m bored. How many kids do you know who have run into tail pipes? Like I said, I excelled at running into things. At some point you would think I might have learned to slow down, but I was a dedicated Running into Things Olympic Athlete-in-Training.
One day while training I ran away from a squirrel that Roger Thiebault and David Worrell were cornering on an oak tree up the street. The squirrel jumped, I dodged, we both ran. I ran right into the curb. Actually, my ankle bone ran into the curb, a broken down crumbly concrete crud of a curb. It skinned the flesh and I began to bleed, bits of crumbly concrete curb crud embedded in the shards of skin hanging from my damaged appendage. I started screaming bloody murder. Roger and David looked stunned. “Did the squirrel bite you?” AHA! Maximum drama and sympathy I thought. And, having four older brothers at home, I knew I was being a wooz screaming and flailing about in the street over a skinned ankle, so, I didn’t think before wailing YES! and grabbing my ankle gustily, which actually was smarting like a son of a bitch at the time. My heart was racing too, caught up as it was in my little melo-drama. In all the confusion, I reasoned, maybe that little bugger did bite me, although of course I knew deep down he didn’t.
I’d like to insert a cautionary note here–wear proper athletic shoes children. I was, at the time of this accident, wearing patent leather shoes, Mary Janes or what ever the hell they called em. Cute little numbers with a strap across the top and very little in the way of ankle protection. None actually. It was 1964! Nobody even considered that a little girl would need shoes with support and traction. They were inappropriate shoes for my training regimen, as well as squirrel hunting expeditions, but honestly, athletic shoes at the time were for, well, athletes. Little girls wore little girl shoes.
So here I am, rocking back and forth in the street, hugging my little girl shod foot to my chest, yowling like an alley cat, having convinced myself, and the small crowd of neighborhood kids and a couple of adults that were gathering round, (having been alerted by my screams and the excited story being perpetrated by the two boys who were really to blame), that the squirrel bit me. Someone helped me home. I recall leaning on someone, limping and whimpering and wondering why I had made such a fuss because by the time I got to my front door, it really wasn’t feeling all that bad, but how could I re-neg on my story now, with half the neighborhood crowding around our front porch, people asking serious questions like “Could the squirrel be rabid?”, “Should we call animal control? Should we call the police?” Now I’m screwed. And more scared than if I really had gotten bit by some damn rabid puss head of a rodent with a fluffy tail.
So, of course Dad and Mom take me inside and clean my wounds, whipping out the dreaded Mercurochrome, which elicits more tortured screams and drama, and then Dad calls Doctor Weston, but I think before that he may have drilled me about what happened and detected a certain weakness of conviction on my part that the squirrel really did bite me, especially after he lectured me about the rabies shots they give you in your stomach with a 12 inch needle for forty days and forty nights. But he’s a good conscientious father so he calls the doc anyhow, and the doc says give her an aspirin and watch her for a while to see if she foams at the mouth and falls over and starts rolling around on the carpet like the rabid dog in “To Kill a Mockingbird”, or some other sage advice a doctor would give a concerned parent in such a situation, and Dad hangs up. There is still a bit of excitement on the front lawn and friends and neighbors are concerned for my well-being, and the safety of their children, so he goes out to calm the crowd. He tells them everything is under control and my daughter is a nut-case or some other such nonsense, and everyone goes home, disappointed that we will not be on the six-o-clock news this week as the neighborhood over-run by rabid girl-nibbling squirrels, and I go back to being an ordinary five year old girl living in an ordinary neighborhood in Suburban Southern Connecticut. Until the next flesh wound…