Squirrel Racing: An Invention of Desperation/Phantasy Friday

Sorry this one won’t have pictures. But it’s as surreal as what I investigate. And since there’s been no update on the non-cowboy in my household–and this perfectly depicts his personality!–I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone.

Cowboy Jerry, still in a cast and on crutches, feels chafed by enforced physical restrictions until the bones fuse completely. He’s also aggravated by not being able to help with the rodeo kids. So his buddy Billy Joe has been picking him up to at least attend meetings. He goes to an ocaisional event, but has to stay in the lowest level of the stands. Hard on a guy who wants to be in the thick of things.

A few weeks ago Billy Joe invited him to an event in north Mississippi. Billy Joe’s wife, sorrowfully, had agreed to work that particular weekend. Shucks. Considering there were five kids from four to seventeen locked in a vehicle for six hours pulling a four-horse trailer, that’s one wise woman!

Two guys, five kids, and a six-hour road trip meant Billy Joe was feeling the pressure from noise and refereeing duties at forty-five minutes in. Straight-faced and with much enthusiasm Jerry launched into a whopper to entertain the kids. Turns out it was embroidered with enough convincing detail Billy Joe missed his exit the first time.

It began, “Hey, I’m not supposed to say anything just yet, but you kids are my buddies so I’m going to tell you about it. And guys, this is something we need to think about getting into on the ground floor because it’s going to be big! It is in Maimi already!”

Yes, south Mississippi will be the first place to introduce newly discoverd Squirrel Racing to our sports loving nation.

Potential investors are battling each other to secure rights to the new squirrel tracks. Much smaller than a horse track, it means they can build larger stands to hold more paying viewers with all that leftover space. A projected thirty percent increase in ticket sales. And owners of the new racing stock? They’re thrilled over the prospect of no more heavy-duty, fuel guzzling dualies dragging lumbering trailers costing additional tens of thousands of dollars. All they’ll have to do is slide their customized squirrel boxes into the back of six cylinder mini-vans, and reap the same high purses. Less expense jumps their profits exponentially. (Jerry believes in increasing kids’vocabulary; if they learn something it eases his guilt over telling lies.) An exciting opportunity for new cowboys in the making.

The four-year old slitted his eyes at Jerry, jerked the strawberry Tootsie-pop out of his mouth with a slurp you could hear from the back seat and drawled, “There ain’t no such thing as racing squirrels.”  The twelve-year old grabbed the back of the seat to pull himself closer and said, “Really?” It was on.

Five minutes later the only remaining skeptic was the four-year old. Everyone was asking where to get the squirrels. A ten-year old suggested they could catch wild squirrels locally and tame them, saving the $300 per racing squirrel cost. They learned red squirrel racing stock came from a secret source in South America, and were bred to be larger than wild squirrels.

Shlerp-pop prefaced, “Squirrels are smaller than horses. If they’re all red, how you gonna tell them apart when they’re running?” Dangerous rationale from a four-year old. Thinking fast, Jerry launched into the miniature spider monkeys that would act as jockeys. Wearing different colored silks the same as regular jockeys, they’d also have numbers on their backs for easy identification. Spider monkeys would be the tricky part of this operation, because you had to procure your own and train them to race. A time-consuming operation they needed to start on now, if they were in on this. Squirrels were easy; they could be worked on tiny tread mills to keep them in shape and increase their stamina. He had a catalogue to order the special saddles and squirrel bits, but the kids were sworn to secrecy over the equipment source.

It spread like wildfire. For a month Jerry got before school and late evening phone calls from enthusiastic junior high boys wanting to get into racing squirrels. At every rodeo kids were talking about squirrel racing. The story got even more detailed with blood lines, possible farm logos and franchises. I huffed at the outrageous lies told to children. Huffed louder when I learned the adults with the rodeo team were aiding and abetting the falsehoods for pure entertainment value. The final straw was when I overheard Jerry tell a twelve-year-old on the phone he just got his monkeys in. You could hear the kid’s excited “Wow! What do they look like?” clear across the room.

“Don’t know yet. They made a mistake and sent me monkey eggs,” was convincingly aggrieved. “Can you believe it? I have to hatch them out first. Hey, do you happen to have an incubator I can borrow? If you let me use it for twenty-seven days I’d go partners with you in my monkey stock.”

Jerry can hop faster on one leg than I can limp. He managed to make it to his room ahead of me, leaning on the door to keep me out, talking over my pounding on the outside and yelling “You should be ashamed!” He phoo-phooed my racket by telling the kid I was against gambling.

Things came to a head when the school counselor called Billy Joe over the boys trying to lure friends into pooling funds for a fictitious investment scheme. Confessions became immediately necessary. It was a crestfallen bunch of kids left standing there. The meeting ended on the four-year-old glaring around at all the big kids surrounding him. He shlurped the current Tootsie-pop out of his mouth, bobbing his head with the self-righteous announcement, “Told you there weren’t any Racing Squirrels.”

I know kids.You can’t  dangle a grand adventure in front of them then snatch it away. The look in the eyes they turned on Jerry promised retribution for all the adult laughter at their expense. If I was Jerry, I’d check the wing nuts on my crutches well and often.


6 Responses

  1. So, I can stop drumming my fingers on the table in anticipation- this was SOOOOOO worth the wait. I LOVE IT! And I am really enamoured of the 4 year old genius. The more I hear about Jerry, the more I want to meet him- he sounds like my kinda guy- fun to hang out with just like his mamma!

    I DO have some squirrel pictures- they are brown squirrels and I swear, one of them has a little red saddle.

    • Damn! Someone else has that secret catalogue?!? lol

      Maybe Jerry should have been the writer. He has the imagination for it! And you had to be present for some of the conversations. I had to keep reminding myself to close my mouth when it fell open.

      Billy Joe swore it was the easiest trip he ever made!

  2. That is just sooo wrong! Serisously! Yet I’m with the 4yrold here, I’d be a skeptic too!

    • I sent over a bag of Tootsie-pops for him, and said it was because I was proud of him for thinking for himself.

      Do you guys realize that child will never trust anything an adult tells him from now on? Poor baby! And yet I keep laughing as I think that!

  3. Omg.. What a story, Jerry is a mess. I loved his story.. But, you are the writer, he is just taking after his mother.

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