What I Think
I am a 60-something, expatriate Michigan-American, living in exile amongst the Amish of Lancaster County, Pennsylvania... the son of first generation Baltimore Catholics and short-legged, intemperate Scots.
I am older than I look but younger than I feel. I believe that God is math and physics and that the Universe tastes like a cheap, buck-fifty melon. Time is laid out on a Mobius strip that passes through an infinitely small pink sphincter at its mid-point… and that point is the Big Bang. The Big Bang is simply a metaphor for everything that we don’t under-stand. Art and science are two sides to the same coin, chlorophyll is the most magical substance on the planet, diamonds are aliens, water is the soup of life and quartz is the soup of the Earth. Life in the Universe is like pollen on the wind.
I am liberal but not stupid; I am anti-Republican but not Democrat. I am pro-reason and anti-nitwit. I believe that we live in a society of victims all competing for space.
As a baby boomer, I suggest to all of my fellow boomers that we step back and get the hell out of the way. The world belongs to the kids now, it’s their gig, they’ll do just fine.
There is a force field around me that causes street lights to go out as I pass beneath them. No, REALLY, I do… it’s been that way all my life.
You too? We should talk…
This piece first appeared in
Open Salon in May, 2007
Up until this morning, the squirrels have been winning. I’m not talking about the Battle of the Bird Feeder or the fact that they maraud through my bonsai garden like miniature bulls in a china shop. I’m talking about the head games, the test of will - the outwit, outlast, out nut, daredevil game of chicken that squirrels play out on roadways every day all across America.
You know the routine. Just at the very last moment, a squirrel will leap from the shadows right in front of your car. You gasp and grip the wheel as adrenaline squeezes through your system. The squirrel zigs right. You zag left. The squirrel zags left. You, in desperation, zig back right again. The squirrel stops in its tracks literally mocking you as you slam on the brakes and pray that you haven’t hit it. At the very last moment, the squirrel jumps easily to the side and laughs with his buddies, having completely freaked yet another hideously stupid human being.
You can’t tell me that there’s not something going on. This happens just too many times for it to be chalked up to pure chance. Those squirrels have had ALL DAY to cross the road but instead they wait there until just THAT moment when YOU come along before they lunge, hesitate, and then dart out in front of your car. To them, it’s a game, mere sport, a good laugh at your expense.
This morning all of that changed. I decided that if it was a game of "chicken" they wanted, then it was chicken that I was prepared to give them.
I watched for my opportunity. Soon enough, right on cue, a fat little squirrel jumped from the shadows acting perplexed and gave his weak little “oh what do I do now?” routine in the middle of the road, watching for my reaction. I was ready for him. I didn’t flinch. He sneered and faked left. I turned left. He was momentarily confused. He faked right. I turned right. The blood drained from his little squirrel face. He bobbed and did a little head fake but I stayed the course. In sudden desperation, he feigned to the center and then lunged for the edge of the road. I swerved hard for the curb and caught a tread-full of short hairs from the end of his terrified tail as I followed him into a pile of dead leaves.
“What the heck was that all about?!” I knew he was asking himself, as I pulled back on to the road. And when the next squirrel jumped out in front of me I did it again, and then again. And then again.
The word will get out. I’ll just keep calling their bluff until soon, very soon, the word will spread from oak tree to oak tree, from one squirrel to the next - to watch out for that crazy old bastard in the old green Ford Escort wagon with the balding tires…
He means business.
Books by Jeff L. Howe