There’s a squirrel stuck in my basement. The first time I saw it, I’m not going to lie, I got a little freaked out. I walked downstairs and turned on the light and this grey blur jumped into a hole where a pipe merges into the wall. I screamed. It was a little dramatic. I hoped the neighbors didn’t hear. If it weren’t for that big bushy tail, I would’ve just assumed it was a rat. Honestly, isn’t that the only difference between squirrels and rats? They’re the same size, the same color, they’re both just as fast, and they both leave little dropping in the corners. Every time I go downstairs I hear it running in the walls and above the ceiling. I don’t think it’s having a great time in there. I think it’s stuck and is trying desperately to figure out how to get out. I have no idea how it got inside in the first place.
The bond that we eventually formed had an unlikely beginning. After a few days I started to worry that the squirrel would eventually starve to death inside the walls and, after a few more days, the body would start to decompose. It would stink and attract those really big horseflies that only ever appear when something dies and is left to rot. But I didn’t know what to do. I figured that I’d leave it some food and water, just a few acorns here and there, just enough so that it could survive while I thought of a plan on how to get rid of it for good.
I put off figuring out what to do for way too long – look, I’m really busy; don’t judge – but finally I went to the Home Depot and bought a squirrel trap. That’s what the Internet told me to do, and the Internet has never let me down before. These squirrel traps are long metal cages. I don’t really know how they work, but the squirrel goes in and gets stuck. I kept thinking that, if the trap actually worked, I’d eventually find myself in the situation where I’d have to go up to this small cage with a live squirrel in it and get it out of my house. That was the probably the most terrifying idea I’ve ever had in my life. I could just picture me going up to the cage, the squirrel would be inside, just sitting there calmly, as if it had surrendered, and then I’d go to pick up the cage, but just as I touched it, the squirrel would start going berserk, making little crazy squirrel sounds, scratching at all sides of the cage at the same time, moving and jumping around so much that the cage starts bouncing around by itself. No, absolutely no way would I let that happen. I determined that I’d leave the cage downstairs, wait for the squirrel to get trapped, and then not go down to the basement for a week while it slowly starved to death. There might be some flies, but I could easily just get rid of the body.
But then I thought, aren’t I going to have to put some acorns in the cage to lure it in? What if the squirrel realizes that it’s been trapped and carefully rations out the acorns to survive in that thing for weeks, or months? I was beginning to feel outsmarted by this little rodent at every turn. But something had to be done. The squirrel kept knocking over all of the clean clothes that I always hung up to dry in the basement. And I’m pretty sure it wasn’t me who had gnawed a hole in that giant bottle of laundry detergent, creating a soap spill so epic I had to take a day off of work just to clean it up, the whole time I’m just wiping up layers upon layers of lather that, no matter how thoroughly I wiped, never seemed to be able to go away, all while the squirrel ran nonstop laps in the walls and in the ceiling, taunting me, daring me to do something, anything about my unfortunate circumstances.
Finally I resolved to set the trap. I didn’t care if I couldn’t go down in the basement for a year; this had to end. So I went downstairs with the trap in my hands and the squirrel was just standing there by its plate of acorns. It looked at me, took an acorn, did a little dance, spun around a few time, and then jumped back into his wall. Yes, it was at that moment that “it” became a “he.” The squirrel was definitely communicating with me. I had finally gotten through to him. He didn’t hate being trapped inside the house anymore. He loved living with me! He loved his little wall and his little plate of acorns! I named him Mr. Sparkster, because whenever I forgot to put out some new acorns, he would start biting at the wiring inside the walls and I would here these zapping, sparking, electrical sounds.
I decided not to end our relationship, but to further it, to nurture and encourage it. Maybe I could get him comfortable enough to hang out with me. Maybe I could train him to do some tricks. Maybe I could lure in a female squirrel and train her and I could name her Mrs. Sparkster and, after a small wedding ceremony, they could have a family and I could train all of them to do not just a few tricks, but a whole act. I could take them around the country, on tour, on the talk-show circuit. The Sparksters could be famous. I could be famous. I could be the most famous squirrel trainer in history. It’ll be tough at first, living on the road, staying at dingy motel rooms around the country because nice hotels won’t let my squirrels inside. I haven’t even figured out how to get this one guy out of the house. I have no idea how I’ll bring the whole family on the road. It’ll be a hard life; I’m not blind to that fact. But eventually Disney’s going to contact me and buy the rights to my story. It will be called “Rob G. and the Sparksters.” They’ll cast Joel McHale as the lead, as Rob. They’ll probably even go so far as to offer to buy the Sparksters from me because they’ll already be trained, and why go through the process of training a whole new family of squirrels to act in the movie when they could just use the actual Sparksters? But it will be out of the question. There’s no way I’d ever consider parting with them. Disney will insist. I won’t back down. Negotiations will stall and eventually I’ll find myself back in my basement.
I’m worried that a rat might sneak in, kill one of the children, and infect the rest of the family with rabies. I’m also worried that one of the Sparksters is going to accidentally bite one of those wires a little too hard and get electrocuted. And maybe even start a fire. I’m even more worried that the Sparkster kids are going to grow up and start inbreeding, creating a whole line of genetically unstable offspring. Whereas the first generation of Sparksters will have loved me, the horribly mutated great-grandchildren will hate me, will resent me for their cursed existences. But I can’t keep bringing in new squirrels to keep the gene pool fresh. What do you think I’m made of acorns? You know, I probably should make it a point to accept Disney’s eventually offer. I can’t let my own pride get in the way. After all, I have to think about the Sparksters, not just about my own self-interests.