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Domesticating the Squirrel, June 9, 2007.

I had just arrived to my mom’s house after a relatively uneventful three-hour drive when I sat down in the living room to have some water.  As we recounted the traffic and weather, my stepdad, with the nervous energy of a chihuahua, was peering out the back windows, accounting for his squirrels and birds that come to feed – like an old man version of Snow White.  After all, he is a cowboy, transplanted to the city.  A real one.  The kind that ride horses to check the fence lines, deliver sheep and cattle, catch fish with bare hands, and speak the same dialect as George dubbuhya Bush.

This is a man who insisted on wearing his boots post cardiac surgery.  A man who gets more excited about reading the obituaries of his home town than anticipating a visit from his grandchildren.  Life was better on the ranch.  Particularly, a generation ago.  And if you don’t believe it, JUST ASK HIM.

He has taken to tossing bread out to squirrels.  One of them, the tamer of the two, promptly took the slice and parked himself on the limb of a tree, enjoying some whole wheat domesticated goodness. 

Now he and my mom, they have this funny way of communicating.  My mom will ask (what I often consider to be a dumb) question, in what seems to be an effort to engage him in conversation.  This practice usually riles my feminist sensibilities, with its subservient passivity and misogynistic undertones, not to mention that the response can be long-winded.  

So when my mom asked one of her questions, this time about the squirrel on the tree with the whole wheat bread: “What’s that bump under his belly?”  I completely underestimated his ability to communicate succinctly when he replied “his balls and a penis.”

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