Real Zoo #5: Squirrelly

From Other Steve:

Every Spring, children living near the zoo would come in with baby squirrels that they had “found.” Chances are, they had been found after the children had knocked them out of their nests, but, each year, we’d take them in and the girls who made up the diets in the kitchen would raise them. As they grew, they would learn to treat the kitchen as their playground. As the kitchen was the social center of the zoo, every keeper would be in and out of the kitchen each day, so the squirrels used the keepers as trees and we got used to having them scurry up our legs, around our torsos and eventually perch on our shoulders or heads.
When the squirrels got old enough, the girls would open the kitchen door so that they could begin getting used to the big world outside and, by mid-summer, they would spend as much time outside as inside.

One hot July day – a busy Sunday when the zoo was packed – a very large woman was standing outside the glass wall of the kitchen, pointing at the diets being made so that her children could see what the animals eat. I was just leaving the kitchen, when I saw one of the young squirrels dart up her leg, under her voluminous dress. She immediately screamed and started whacking her thighs, where she was undoubtedly feeling tiny claws gripping her flesh as the little guy scurried up her body. I then saw a small squirrel-shaped lump pass her waistline under her dress and start running around her stomach and chest, trying to escape the woman’s blows. I rushed over to help – admittedly more for the squirrel’s benefit than for the woman’s. Her dress had a large scoop neckline and, as the squirrel darted across her chest under the dress, I stuck my hand in her neckline and tried to grab him. By this time the woman was screaming her head off and everything else in the zoo stopped as all the visitors turned to see what the matter was. After several seconds of my groping and the woman frantically whacking both me and her chest at random, the squirrel headed south and down her leg, dashing off to a nearby oak tree.

I then stepped away from the woman who was still upset but beginning to calm down. It was only then that I glanced to the throngs that were staring at me with their mouths agape. Then I realized….they hadn’t seen the squirrel at all. They only saw a crazed zookeeper violating a poor defenseless woman with her small children watching. I wanted to say, “No, wait, you don’t understand… there was this squirrel….” But I knew it was useless. All I could do was slink away in shame. I went to hide in the kitchen, imagining the headline that would surely be on the front page of the Monday’s Boston Globe: “Zookeeper Gropes Defenseless Fat Woman in Broad Daylight.”

1 thought on “Real Zoo #5: Squirrelly”

  1. When I first read this story, I snorted so hard with laughter, I hurt the inside of my nostrils! Forever more, even if facing imminent, horrible death, if this story pops into my head, I will laugh uncontrollably! Thanks for that!….L.B.

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