Today is the day that school children across the land venerated a large Pennsylvania marmot. I know this because my own kids were glued to the television this morning, with ears tuned for any mention of the vermin and his shadow.
This is just one of many kinds of rodent that kids see fit to honor, of course, and it's almost imperceptible when we start to recognize such nuisances for what they are. Even in college, I didn't wish much ill on the campus squirrels, for instance, although I'm pretty sure those were mostly examples of the live and let live fox squirrel. Then I moved to Washington, where I eventually had to take notice of the more insidious, larger, and more aggressive eastern gray squirrel. It is no coincidence that a squirrel is the posterchild for rodents in Wikipedia, but there is no more rodenty squirrel than our native eastern gray. All other squirrels hate the eastern gray squirrel. They're the Courtney Love of the squirrel family--they drink all the other squirrels' beer and leave the empties all around their nests. They relieve themselves in the other squirrels' driveways.
My introduction to their indifference to my interests occurred the moment that I caught one trying to burrow through a dormer into my attic. In my former agrarian life, I might have been able to drive it off with a pellet gun. But my city frowns on that, so I had to try to pelt it with rocks without knocking out a nearby window, looking like a fool to all neighbors and passers by. The squirrel cared not.
The masthead of this blog has waged a long series of battles against the eastern gray squirrel, perhaps none more colorful than EMM's drowning one in her apartment's commode. The details are unclear, but I like to imagine that she used her bare hands. That, my friends, is justice.
Lest you shed a tear for the squirrel, I note that the babies of any normal species are usually passably cute. It's a defense mechanism, I guess. What is an eastern gray squirrel's defense mechanism? As this photo shows, it's clearly the spawn of Satan; screw with it if you dare.
For happy hour this Friday, February 5, please check out the Black Squirrel, located at 2427-18th Street, NW, in the heart of Adams Morgan. Dupont Circle and the Woodley Park Metro stations are the closest. The Black Squirrel boasts a great menu and a fantastic beer list, with the draft selections headlined (in my mind, at least) by Dale's Pale Ale. I'll see you there, starting at 6:30.
Update--2/7/10: Happy hour viewer from a distance, J, asks in the comments whether the happy hour was able to proceed in the face of the looming snow storm. Most of the happy hour regulars are from Iowa, Minnesota, or upstate New York, so I was confident that at least a couple of the crew had the fortitude to stare down Snowmageddon. It was a small group, but we made it out for a pre-happy hour mojito, followed by the usual fare. When we headed home, there were a few inches on the ground, and I was home in time to watch the third period of the Caps-Thrashers game. As I went on to move snow for 11 hours over the weekend, I was grateful that I had the memories (and calories) from the happy hour to sustain me. In a showing of solidarity, spouse of JWT chipped in with an additional three hours of shoveling.