Given that the weather was unseasonable warm today, I decided to eat my lunch in Lafayette Park. It's where I normally spend my lunchtimes if the weather permits, and after months, of being cooped inside during my free hour, I jumped at the chance to sit in the park without a heavy coat.
The lunchtime started typically enough. I had trouble finding a bench, given that the park was overrun with tourists and workers enjoying the false spring. Finally, I decided on a bench facing the sun with a great view of the White House and settled in to start eating my lunch (a sandwich and apple).
Anyway, I took a few bites of what I'd say was the tastiest (though messy as it was overloaded with peanut butter and honey) sandwich I've ever had. It was simply divine. I was sitting with my arms partly crossed with my sandwich in my right hand in front of my mouth and my left arm snug against my belly with my left hand dangling near my waist.
All of a sudden, I felt a delicate nibbling at my fingers. I turned, and there was a squirrel sitting on the bench right next to me. I grab my things and jumped up in horror. I quickly glanced at my fingertips, expecting the sight of blood. Thank God, there was none.
A guy sitting on the bench next to me noticed and attempted to shoo it away. The squirrel didn't move. After much crazed arm waving, stumping and shouting, the squirrel finally scurried away. But not for long. It kept coming back to the area right behind my bench—clearly in expectation (damn squirrel-feeding tourists!).
A few minutes later, my neighbor noted that all the squirrels were hanging around a nearby tree. The coast was clear. I let my guard down and resolved to relax and enjoy the sunshine, the soft breeze, and my sandwich.
Turning to my left, I was startled once again by a squirrel sitting on my bench. I'd assume that he was aiming to nibble at my peanut-butter soaked fingers again or perhaps, go after the real thing—what was left of my sandwich. I jumped up and with my neighbor's help, "scared" the squirrel away.
I was totally shaken by the second encounter. I had no idea that the tiny rodent would so brazenly attempt to get food from me for a second time.
Of course, the victim's perennial question entered my head: Why me? I was surrounded by people eating all sorts of tasty food. Was it the peanut butter that drew him near? Was it the honey? Both?
I decided that I wasn't going to stick around to find out. I devoured the rest of the sandwich and an apple before heading back to the office. The first thing I did when I got back to work (after I related my tale to Organica, of course) was to wash my hands. Who knows what sort of squirrel-borne diseases I could have contracted from such bold rodents.
I must note that I am a squirrel lover. As a child my favorite thing to do was to feed the squirrels and birds in my backyard. I always attempted to feed the backyard squirrels out of my hands, but they never went any closer to me than a foot. I guess I got my chance to personally feed one yesterday. It was also a sort of karmic payback for the years I spent as a child "domesticating" the squirrels in my own neighborhood.