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Squirrels!

I said in my last post that I'd do a follow-up post to explain the last post.

This is that post. And I'm sorry, but it's a bit lengthy. I'll try to make it entertaining, though.

So, <flashback effect> picture it: Tuscaloosa, Alabama, the summer of 1982.

I'm between my junior and senior year in high school. (I'm 44. Put away the calculator.) Because my ACT score was high enough, I got into the Capstone Summer Honors Program at the University of Alabama. Basically, this is a summer-semester-long program for college-bound high school students with a high enough test score to earn college credit before actually going to college.

It also turns out to be a great opportunity
  • to meet other students who are at your same level, both academically and socially (with 18 in my senior class, there weren't a lot of nerds, geeks, etc. for me to hang out with who had read Vonnegut and Stephen King and Heinlein, liked (programming) computers, and could recite Star Wars)

  • to learn {about|your way around} the campus

  • to learn about life in a dorm and having roommates

  • to learn how to use campus resources like the libraries, textbook stores, registration, etc.
Since we were seventeenish years old and, therefore, young and naïve and stupid—and since we were there by permission of our parents, who had been promised nothing bad would be allowed to happen to us—we got all the standard lectures about fraternizing with "the wrong element," going to places where that element hung out, and basically ruled, regulated, and "infractioned" to death.

Since it was expected that many of us would be returning to campus in a year to begin our college careers, the counselors would give us "helpful hints" about the University of Alabama campus to make things smoother for us.

Among these tips were
  • Stay away from Byrd Hall1! They're weird and they <whispering>probably do drugs!</whispering>.

  • Always buy used textbooks whenever you can because they cost less.

  • You do not, as it turns out, get an automatic 'A' in every course if your roommate dies during the semester.

  • The Quad is a very dangerous place and under no circumstances were any of us wide-eyed, innocent high-schoolers to walk on The Quad alone.

  • And no, that is not because Denny Chimes will crumble if a virgin walks by it.

  • And no, that does not mean you should try to remedy that status if it applies to you, "to save the chimes."
For the purpose of this little narrative (and to actually get us to the topic of squirrels), the only one of those that matters is the fourth one about the quad being dangerous.

Now, to be fair, I'm sure it was dangerous, to a certain level. Especially to girls walking alone at night.

Of course, I immediately found mah peepz (i.e., I found the nerds/geeks and they found me) and we immediately formed our little clique. That was on day 1. :) About a week into the semester, after all the warnings and orientations and what-have-you, we discovered that one of our little group was a jogger. He liked to get up at the ungodly hour of 5 AM (I mean, seriously. Five AM? Weirdo.) and go jogging around...<dun Dun DUNNNNN!> the quad.

So we jokingly asked him, "Hey, Mark, did you see any of those rapists and murderers and kidnappers out there?" Because, you know, we were seventeen and fairly stupid in spite of being smart.

"Nope, not a thing," was his reply. "Except an awful lot of squirrels."

"Squirrels?" we asked.

"Squirrels," he confirmed. "There must be thousands of them. And they have no fear."

Well, that's all that took. Thus began, in the 1982 Capstone Summer Honors Program, the rumor of <dun Dun DUNNNNNN!> The Killer Squirrels™!

It wasn't rapists, murderers, kidnappers, muggers, and aggressive Jehovah's Witnesses out there on the quad at five in the morning that we were supposed to be wary of. It was <dun Dun—> Okay, I'm going to stop that, now. Ahem. It was The Killer Squirrels™. <insert images of squirrels with switchblades> <insert image of squirrels swarming an unsuspecting, lone student, consuming him until nothing is left but bones, lying on the green grass of the quad, gleaming in the hot sun....> Mark must have gotten away safely only because he somehow was of no interest to the squirrels or could perhaps outrun them.

We had great fun with The Killer Squirrel™ thing. The counselors rolled their eyes a lot, quite aware that all their precautions and warnings and "infractions" were doing nothing to stop us from doing everything they said not to do. It just made us2 more stealthy.

So, anyway, Capstone ended, 1982 ended, and 1983 came 'round. I graduated from high school. And I went back to the University.

And it was then that I learned that we were not the first group to have come up with the whole Killer Squirrels™ thing. It was a joke around campus that our quad was populated with aggressive squirrels who would chase people for hand-outs and had pretty much no fear of people.

</flashback effect> And then there's now.

Today, I was reading a new-to-me online comic called Surviving the World. It's not really a comic, so much as it is a guy taking pictures of funny things he's written/drawn on a blackboard, and he wears a lab coat and a hat, and....well, here:
So when I saw this, I IM'd my friend adsmguy who was at UofA at the same time I was and said, "Hey! I thought the whole Killer Squirrel™ thing was just a UofA thing!" I sent him the link. He wasn't surprised, but I was. I had no idea that others might have come up with the whole Squirrel Uprising thing besides us. Proving that age and experience don't necessarily cure naïveté and stupidity, even if you're (supposed to be) smart. :)

So that's what the poll was about. It was to see how many of what is admittedly a fairly small but diverse group in terms of age and geography had also heard of Killer Squirrels™ or the Squirrel Uprising or whatever.

I'm somewhat vindicated by the response, though. Most of you had no idea what I was talking about (or at least didn't without context, which was admittedly and purposefully lacking), but a few of you did, and not all of them were from the University of Alabama, nor from the early 80s. :)


  1. On campus, there was an Honors Residence Program called The Mallet Assembly wherein many of the so-called "smart people" lived. Well, really, there were two. Byrd Hall was the men's dorm and Fitts Hall was the women's version of same. I can't speak for what they told the girls, but they told us boys to steer clear of Byrd/Mallet because, basically, they were weird...and probably did unspeakable things in there. Like drugs and underage drinking and quantum physics. I mean, who knows, right?3 *shudder*.
  2. And by "us" I mean "them." I was as pure and innocent as driven snow. I never did anything they said not to. I never got in any trouble. And at least one of those statements is true, but not all three. :)
  3. The sheer irony of it all is that I believed the malarkey (see above, re: young, stupid, naïve) they fed us about Mallet and steered clear of it. Two of my current long-term friends turned out to have been in Mallet at that very time; a co-worker I liked at my first, on-campus job lived there with his girlfriend, who later became his wife; a classmate I befriended as a junior lived there, and we ended up spending a lot of time together at Byrd working on a team project; and two other long-term, close friends were associated with Mallet in some way (they were Mallet groupies who hung around but didn't live there). So it turns out if I hadn't listened to the counselors at CSHP in 1982, I would have met all these people I befriended way before I eventually did, and probably would have come through college a little more loose for the experience. Oh, and although there may have been drugs (and quantum physics!), it was discrete and none of my friends participated in any of that sort of thing. :)

    I really hope they're not still warning students away from the "weird folks" just because they're weird. What a travesty.


Atheists Are People, Too  Antispam  

Comments

( 7 hisses — Hiss at me! )
geek_72
May. 30th, 2009 02:38 am (UTC)
I live amongst the squirrels here in G'ville and its entirely true how they let you live around them. they have no fear and will taunt the hell out of anyone or anything they feel should be taunted. hell they even know the limits of my dogs leash and will stay just outside his reach to taunt him. I am apparently allowed to live here since I am a source of food but they get mad and destructive when I fail to feed them. First day of no food gets the warning squirrel race across the house at 5am.
second day all my flower pots get knocked over and I awake to find them waiting on the feeder as a reminder. I spend more feeding the squirrels here than I do feeding my dog.
oxlahun
May. 30th, 2009 03:38 am (UTC)
UNF was situated on 1000 acres of state wildlife preserve. The squirrels knew a good meal when they saw one, and weren't going to let anything stupid like fear of creatures a couple orders of magnitude bigger than them get in the way.

The legend of the evil giraffe out on the nature trails didn't start until Mojo Nixon played a concert on campus in the early 90s.
kiltypleasure
May. 30th, 2009 02:48 pm (UTC)
I'm actually going to miss the crazy-ass Tuscaloosa squirrels when I move this summer. Glad to see their hijinks are a long-standing tradition at The Capstone.
etherial
May. 30th, 2009 07:08 pm (UTC)
I just read a hundred of those damned comics
Damn you. Damn you to hell.
kaasirpent
May. 30th, 2009 07:10 pm (UTC)
Re: I just read a hundred of those damned comics
HEHEHehehehehehehe!

I read them all, as well. All 351. So don't come whining to me until you read the rest of them. :)

352, counting today.
kiteflier98
Jun. 1st, 2009 12:13 am (UTC)
I see nothing but black squirrels where I live here now in Sturgis, MI. This is very bizzare, and some tell me that they are such aggressive squirrels that they've chased off all the other kinds of squirrels, like a gang or something. No brown squirrels, no grey squirrels... just black... It's very odd.
telleestmavie
Jun. 2nd, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
I'm assuming I'm in with the "groupies" you mentioned, because I spent a hefty portion of my undergraduate career with those weirdos. They had the *best* parties, where you could get sloppy drunk AND talk intelligently ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Good times, good times....

Sadly, though, this is the first I've heard of the killer squirrel story, and not only was I there longer than you, but I've known you for 20-ish years. You've been holding out. I thought we were pals. *sniff*
( 7 hisses — Hiss at me! )

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