Squirrel Fouling

By Nobby

PREAMBLE: I wasn’t going to divulge anything about this secretive and ancient practice, but I’m defenseless against the persuasive powers of “Mych “. She hounded me mercilessly to spill. She could charm a vinegarroon! If this lands me in trouble with the Foulers, it’s her fault!

We Foulers don heavy medieval armor and chase squirrels about the fields in order to strike them with ping pong balls. No squirrels are ever injured. Foulers are animal lovers; we revere the athletic prowess of squirrels. Fouling is actually highly beneficial to squirrels, teaching them valuable survival skills — Like: RUN FROM PEOPLE !

The objective of a Fouler is to get in close for the strike, just like real knights! Accurate striking range is a meager six feet, tops. When a fully armor-clad man is pitted against the agility of a squirrel, the advantage is overwhelmingly the squirrel’s.

Each Fouler is accompanied by a field judge and a squire. The field judge tallys the score, the squire functions as ping pong ball bearer and Best Boy.

The Fouling began slowly that day. As we took the field, a group of incredulous picnic-goers started laughing, laughing loudly I might add. I failed to see what was so amusing. You can see them in the photo positioned behind and to my left.

Little did I know, this day would be legendary in the annals of Fouling. I would confront Tobias, a squirrel who had never been fouled. A squirrel every Fouler desired! Tobias or Toby, as we branded him , was by this time a “marked squirrel”. There were so many bounties and wagers placed on him; it was inevitable his foul-free reign would come crashing down. Here’s how it unfolded on that historic day.

The Encounter… I perceived a rustle and then a slight scurrying in the tall grass. My squire whispered, “One O’clock! Right”! Could this be quarry? My tally sheet contained only near misses. The hours of remaining daylight were growing short. I didn’t want to face the humiliation of an empty tally sheet. Oh, how I wanted just one strike! Then the blades of grass parted and I got my first look. I recognized the distinctive markings and his haughty stare. It was he, Toby!

Toby flashed that mortifying stare then rolled his eyes and looked left, as if to indicate his direction of flight (highly irregular behavior). The range was extreme. He stared and began taunting with sharp squirrel grunts. He gnashed his teeth. He screached a prolonged cry in squirrel falsetto that must have carried a mile. Other Foulers would soon be arriving.

I began my approach. Toby stood motionless as I found his range. I rifled a ping pong ball at his midriff. The ball was perfectly on target. With split-second timing Toby executed an inverted roll and my ball found nothing but turf. The field judge gasped! I looked at Toby in awe — “You Magnificent Bastard” !

My squire supplied me an armful of ping pong balls and I rushed Toby flinging shots in rapid succession. He evaded with precision maneuvers: a barrel roll, inverted-S, and even a tour je te`, the works ! I stood amazed, devoid of weapons, empty-handed. Toby bolted down a path that terminated in a kind of horse shoe with muddy, crumbling shale walls. Had Toby’s exertions confused him? This was a capital mistake. There was no way out for Toby now!

THE END DRAWS NIGH . . . I armed myself with ping pong balls and dispatched my squire at the head of the short path. The field judge crept in my wake. The end was near. Toby was plastered against the crumbling shale wall, trapped. He seemed to be covering a small crevice midway up the steep bank. Toby remained motionless. I closed the range. The field judge cried, ” I don’t like this” and ran for the head of the path. That irritated me. I charged Toby for the final time; my armor clattered as I wound for the strike. I released a dead-eye ping pong ball, perfect! Toby slipped it with a gentle side-step and burst forth as a vague, gray blur. He was gone. The ball disappeared into the crevice. Suddenly an angry swarm of bees emerged and launched a savage attack!

After I awoke in my hospital bed, I realized that I had been duped by a squirrel, the ultimate squirrel; by luring me down that path, Toby made me a pariah among Foulers.

About karlsie

Some great perversity of nature decided to give me a tune completely out of keeping with the general symphony; possibly from the moment of conception. I learned to read and speak almost simultaneously. The blurred and muffled world I heard through my first five years of random nerve loss deafness suddenly came alive with the clarity of how those words sounded on paper. I had been liberated for communications. I decided there was nothing more wonderful than writing. It was easier to write than carefully modulate my speech for correct pronunciation, and it was easier to read than patiently follow the movements of people’s lips to learn what they were saying. It was during that dawning time period, while I slowly made the connection that there weren’t that many other people who heard the way I did, halfway between sound and music, half in deafness, that I began to understand that the tune I was following wasn’t quite the same as that of my classmates. I was just a little different. General education taught me not only was I just a little isolated from my classmates, my home was just a little isolated from the outside world. I was born in Alaska, making me part of one of the smallest, quietest minorities on earth. I decided I could live with this. What I couldn’t live with was discovering a few years later, in the opening up of the pipeline, which coincided with my first year of junior college, that there were entire communities of people; more than I could possibly imagine; living impossibly one on top of another in vast cities. It wasn’t even the magnitude of this vision that inspired me so much as the visitors who came from these populous regions and seemed to possess a knowledge so great and secretive I could never learn it in any book. I became at once, very conscious of how rural I was and how little I knew beyond the scope of my environment. I decided it was time to travel. The rest is history; or at least, the content of my stories. I traveled... often to college campuses, dropping in and out of school until one fine day by chance I’d fashioned a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. I’ve worked a couple of newspapers, had a few poems and stories tossed around in various small presses, never receiving a great deal of money, which I’m assured is the norm for a writer. I spent ten years in Mexico, watching the peso crash. There is some obscure reason why I did this, tightening up my belt and facing hunger, but I believe at the time I said it was for love. Here I am, back home, in my beloved Alaska. I’ve learned somewhat of a worldly viewpoint; at least I like to flatter myself that way. I’ve also learned my rural roots aren’t so bad after all. I work in a small, country store. Every day I greet the same group of local customers, but make no mistake. My store isn’t a scene out of Andy Griffith. The people who enter the establishment, which also includes showers, laundry and movie rentals, are miners, oil workers, truck drivers, construction engineers, dog sled racers and carpenters. Sometimes, on the liquor side, the conversations became adult only in vocabulary. It’s a good thing, on the opposite side of the store is a candy aisle filled with the most astonishing collection, it will keep a kid occupied with just wishing for hours. If you tell your kids they can have just one, you have an instant baby sitter; better than television; as they agonize over their choice while you catch up on the gossip with your neighbor. We also receive a lot of tourists, a lot of foreign visitors. They are usually amazed at this first sign of Alaskan rural life style beyond the insulating hub of the Anchorage bowl. Many of them like to hang around and chat. They gawk at our thieves wanted posters. They laugh at our jokes and camaraderie with our customers. I’ve learned another lesson while working there. You don’t have to go out and find the world. If you wait long enough, it comes to you.

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4 Comments on “Squirrel Fouling”

  1. Whilst I emphasize with your pain at the same time I must revel in delight that I am not the only one that has befallen from the insidious nature of “Secret Society of Squirrels” – an organization that dons the guise of cuteness to undermine man’s alpha status amongst the animal kingdom. May one day the organizers of fouling come to the realization that it is not ping pong balls needed but maces…to keep with the spirit of medival ages…

  2. I really hope you get another chance at the ‘Dread Tobias’ that squirrel needs it bad! Are bees even allowed? I think he may have been juicing. Check his nuts.

  3. Wait until PETA finds out you’ve been terrorizing squirrels with ping pong balls. You’ll be in trouble!

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