22 May 2020

Coronavirus Quarantine Diary: Day 68, Entry 17, The Way of the Squirrel


A squirrel atop our bird feeders. Photo by yours truly.
I've become something of an artist, I keep drawing a blank.

Now that the laughter has died down from my opening one-liner I'd like to...Say, that reminds me of a true story that I myself still have trouble believing. This was perhaps 20 years ago, we had a school district in-service which all employees were obliged to attend. Such an event took place once a year on the Monday in October when the rest of the country is either celebrating Columbus Day or Indigenous People's Day. Per custom, we all assembled in the high school auditorium, a lovely venue that often hosts concerts. Anyway we were always subjected to a few speakers, one of whom was a big mucky muck in the district office, sometimes the superintendent her or hisself. There was also usually an outside speaker, usually some jamoke "from the outside" who was expert in a particular -- often arcane -- aspect of education. These people had a tendency to induce sleep even among the most caffeinated of listeners. But in the year I'm thinking of (ya know when I started writing this post I had a very definite plan but this story popped into my head and so I'm deviating from script -- so to speak -- and sharing it) the "outsider" was a fairly young and attractive woman. This got the immediate attention of the heterosexual males in the audience, yours truly included. So we're going to give the woman a good minute or two before we lapse into the boredom for which such days were notorious. This may not be verbatim what her talk opened with, but I swear to all that is holy, it's damn close.

"Because I sleep in the nude, when I wake up in the morning I can look down and see that I am a woman and thus am entitled to change my mind. I was originally going to talk about...." That was as much as I remember because at that point I, like my fellow low-minded, disgusting male companions, was fully occupied with the image of this lovely creature in bed, in the nude, looking at her nether regions. Yes the woman got our attention (there were murmurs and giggles and gasps in the audience) but she failed to get most of us to pay a lick of attention of what she was yammering about because we were still focused on the imagery she had so vividly created.

When I wrote about gasps in the audience I was reminded of another story which will represent a further digression from what I intended to write. Again the setting is a meeting of teachers, this one on an infinitely smaller school as it was at the school I taught and was comprised of teachers and staff of said school. The principal thought it was a good idea (and this will give further evidence to my fervent belief that school administrators have about as much of originality of thought and imagination as a fiddler crab) for each one of us to talk about how it has been going in our department meetings. Sadly, many of my colleagues went at this assignment with great elan and spared no details in relating the fascinating stories behind such gatherings. If you've never worked at a public school you must trust me that it is the height of sarcasm for me to say that such stories are fascinating. Or interesting. Or worth hearing about. Why, I wondered, am I being subjected to the minutiae that is discussed among my good friends in the math department? In any event we spent what was probably a good (bad?) half an hour that seemed closer to three millennia hearing the epic tales of various department meetings, not from the perspective of the department head mind you, but of all participants. We three in the history department were last to report. My two colleagues preceded me and both made mention of the fact that history teachers were no longer meeting with English teachers in humanities meetings, but we were now separate (but supposedly equal) thus there were but three of us in our meetings, we being the only teachers who exclusively taught history. Then it was my turn. I preface telling you what I said by noting that my fellow history teachers were Doug and Michael who were like me happily married middle aged men. To the assemblage I said the following, and this is verbatim: "Just the three of us meeting together is really difficult for me because of all the sexual tension between Doug and Michel." Rather succinct, I thought. Well, there were gasps, a chuckle or two and one person said, "I can't believe he said that." Other people expressed shock or disbelief too. Most in attendance knew me well enough to see that I was just being my usual wise-ass self. Anyway, I thought it was kind of funny.

A squirrel going through gymnastics to eat.
I'm now further reminded of a staff meeting (this represents deviation number three but fear not for it is a short reminisce) we had voted and decided upon something when someone raised an after-the-fact objection. This led to an endless series of debates and comments that broke no new ground and were not going to change the fact of the vote (sadly this type of scene was not uncommon at school staff meetings). I eventually joined the many raised hands and as the needless debate raged I patiently waited my turn. When I finally got to speak I pointed out the window and said, "look everybody, there's a dead horse, let's beat it." My point was made and I flatter myself that it helped bring a close to the gratuitous disputation.

Maybe now I can get to the points I had originally intended to address in this blog post. If I can only remember what they are. Oh yes. The coronavirus. One of the strangest aspects of it is walking about avoiding people. As the missus and I go for our daily stroll we make decisions on which streets to traverse based on whether there are any people already occupying it. Inevitably we do encounter fellow citizens. The question always is, who's going to cross the street or step aside or climb a tree. It's still a strange feeling to do something that is instinctively feels rude. But, of course, it's not. People do try to exchange a friendly greeting, often, one supposes, just to assuage the guilt of steering clear of one another.

I'd planned to write a lot more but as noted I got distracted by own memories (they're all I have, he sighed wistfully, once again feeling sorry for himself). I do want to explain the title of this post which I put up before starting to write it. I was going to drone on about the squirrels and birds who the wife and I have become acquainted with of late. The better half has put up a bird feeder and we get a lot of traffic and most of our visitors are regulars. We're providing the hot local eatery for feathered locals. However squirrels also like to partake of the feeder. We're happy for them to stop by for a bite but when they start to feast we open the window and shoo them. They go into quite a bit of gymnastics to access the holes in the feeders and hopefully I'll find a photo to include in this post that will help illustrate that.

Anyway, sorry for the digressions. Maybe next time you'll get a post that starts at the beginning, has a solid middle, builds to a crescendo, then provides a satisfactory denouement. Or not, who knows?

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