by Roger Freed — It isn’t often one sees a saber toothed squirrel. Of course, it isn’t often one wants to see a saber toothed squirrel, but when one does see one it invariably leads to commentary. For instance: “Why the (bleep) does that squirrel have a saber tooth and how can he chew anything without sticking himself?” is often heard.
Chena Hot Springs Resort, Alaska has one. His name is ‘Tham’ for reasons that will become apparent to those endowed with enough patience to finish this article. He lives in the roof of a cabin like a furry Quasimodo possessing instead a socially alienating tusk rather than a hunchback. The poor creature, much like Quasimodo, is surely rejected by his peer squirrels and had to endure taunts in his childhood from the other neighborhood squirrel kids such as “Hey, Mr. Big Tooth! Did you remember to floss today?” or “Hey Large Mouth! Don’t you know its uncouth to have such a big tooth?” The poor guy probably never even has had a squirrel girlfriend. She would have been seriously lacerated by their first kiss.
Tham would come over and eat at the restaurant’s bird feeder. We would put up a sign that stated “For Bird’s Only!” but he ignored it. Other than his tusk he was an ordinary Alaskan squirrel which is puny by normal U.S. squirrel standards. This puniness is undoubtedly a further source of humiliation for poor Tham. Most Alaskans take great pride in their state possessing so many critters of humongous size and here he is pulling down the status quo. Alaskan squirrels look like runts of the litter. I am sure that in the wild when caught and devoured by predators they are considered to be the Chicken McNuggets of the animal kingdom.
Tham’s tooth really looks like a miniature elephant’s tusk. It comes out of his mouth through his cheek and curls into an elongated C shape. It is so big that it looks like if he were to turn his head too swiftly he would slit his own throat. It is impressive. The other side had apparently been long too but had broken off leaving a strange stub. Tham is Nature’s answer to the piercing craze. Tham theems…excuse me “seems” to be a throwback in evolution. Most animals appear to be moving forwards in evolution towards better body designs, much like Japanese cars do each year. Humans, for instance, supposedly developed from fish to weasels to aardvarks to monkeys to cavemen to Tom Cruise over several million years. Tham seems to be going back towards being a mastodon. Perhaps there is such a thing as reverse evolution, where we degenerate back to more primitive forms. That would explain heavy metal rock bands, the dark overgrowth’s of hair sprouting on my back recently and our latest President.
I had a nightmare about Tham a while back. It was late at night (this would be a Fairbanks, Alaska night with 18 hours of darkness, not a wimpy summer ‘lower 48’ night. Somehow nightmares that occur on nights when it is still light enough to thread needles by just aren’t all that scary). There was a strange scratching at my window. I got out of bed, pulled up the blinds and there he was! Tham stood outside with his little paws on the glass and stared icily in with beady eyes. He had clawed his way through the screen. In my head I heard a squirrely voice saying “Let me in!” I obeyed. He jumped before me, his mangy tail darting back and forth ans saliva dripping down from his tusk and all the while his staring eyes boring into me. The voice came into my head again, “Give me thom thyrup!”
“What?” I asked out loud.
The voice commanded again “Give me thom thyup!”
“What is ‘Thom thyup’?”
His rodent eyes flashed redder and voith…sorry “voice” was angry. “Don’t make thport of my acthent! I can’t help it if I have a lithp! Just give me thom thyup and thut up!” the saber tooth glinted evilly in the dark.
“I don’t have any ‘thom thyup’!” I replied nervously. “What if I give you thome ith cream inthtead?”
What happened next I can only remember in a blur. There was horrendous thcreetch much louder than I would have imagined squirrel vocal chords were capable of making and he lunged for my face faster than I thought squirrel muscles were able to. Squirrely fur obstructed my vision and I felt a pain intense. Everything went dark.
I awoke gasping for breath with my pillow over my face. It had all just been a nightmare. I sighed in relief. Strangely though, when I went to shave, I discovered a nose piercing that hadn’t been there before.
Not for print, just for laughs
Thith thtory thoroughly thucks, though I theriouthly thtudied, rethearched, revithed and thtrove to exthel with it. Thank you.