Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Tale of Old No-tail

So, I have a new friend in the neighborhood. No, it's not some other lame Mom - it's a special friend. Ok you guys, it's a squirrel. This is him:

Notice anything unusual? Yeah, me too.

Of course, I spotted him immediately the first time we crossed paths a couple of years ago. My eyes are basically magnet-trained to spot any and all animals that I encounter (living or dead), so his jaunty, tail-less waddle was like a beacon among the typically foggy and mundane neighborhood goings-on.

I immediately felt sorry for the little guy. I mean, come on! Just look at him! He's so ridiculous looking - I wondered what the other squirrels thought of him. I imagined squirrel birthday parties that he wasn't invited to. I imagined him being laughed off the squirrel high jump team. I imagined lady squirrels shooting down his advances.

Yeah, Disney movies pretty much ruined me.

Then I tried to conjure up what had happened - had he survived a narrow escape from a predator? Our neighborhood did have more than its fair share of natural predators for him to fear (Can anybody say red-tailed hawk? How about coyote?) A run-in with a train? A trap? I actually spent quite a bit of time amusing myself with concocting the details of his life - it was like a relationship, except only I really knew about it.

In truth, I sort of assumed that was the last I'd see of him - either he would be moving on due to the ceaseless mocking or possible ostracizing from his peers, or he'd die from lack of balance, pride or both.

But guys - that little dude proved me wrong.

Not only is he still kicking, he's bigger than most of the others now. I see his cropped behind all over the place and usually it's smack dab in the middle of a big pile of food.

Clearly I was wrong about him - I had assumed that his missing appendage was a sign of weakness, but maybe it was something else altogether. Maybe it was a battle wound, a badge of courage. He walked among the others and they backed away in awe - it's him! The guy who survived. The one strong enough to not only get away but to thrive beyond the threat.

It made me wonder what other perceived weaknesses I might be misinterpreting. Could there be things about others or even about myself that I had misjudged?

I am glad to know this squirrel for a lot of reasons - but chief among them is that it is never a bad idea to reconsider your position on things, and he reminded me of that.

Thanks, little buddy. I'll leave some extra bird seed out for you, you know, just in case bravado fails and you need a friend.

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