Woman horrified when neighborhood squirrel runs off with fried fish dinner

Tracey Folly

*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.

My mother is fastidious when she fries fish for dinner. She doesn't like the smell of frying fish or the splatter of hot cooking oil, so she always fries fish outdoors in the backyard.

After she finishes frying the fish, she uses paper towels to soak up the fishy grease and oil she uses for cooking. Several times, she forgot to clean up immediately afterward, and a squirrel got into the oily paper towels and dragged them all over the backyard, causing a heck of a cleanup.

The first time it happened, my mother went back outside to retrieve the dirty paper towels, but they were gone. She looked all around the yard but saw no sign of the paper. It had disappeared. She didn't know about the squirrel, yet.

It wasn't windy, which made my mother feel even more confused. Then she spotted a single sheet of greasy paper towel lying in the middle of the grass ten feet away.

She tried to figure out the puzzle of what had happened, but it wasn't until her second reckoning with the squirrel that she had her answer. "This time, I saw it with my own eyes," she said.

"The squirrel put his feet on the outdoor table, stood up, took two pieces of greasy paper towel out of the frying pan, jumped onto the nearby picket fence, and climbed up a tree to his nest," my mother said. "There were scraps of oily paper towels everywhere, and I got stuck cleaning them up. Again."

My mother found it odd that a squirrel would like fish grease. "It's not like they're eating fried fish in the wild," she told me. "I thought they only liked nuts. Maybe he has a nut allergy." She laughed.

"Who knows what squirrels like better than a squirrel?" she asked.

Those fishy paper towels must have given our local backyard squirrels a taste for fried fish. One day, my mother left the fried fish outside for a moment while she popped back into the house to fetch a platter to carry the fish.

In her absence, one squirrel grabbed at the crumpled paper towels soaked in grease and dragged them several feet before finding something more to its liking: the fried fish itself.

My mother exited the back door into the yard carrying her empty platter, only to discover a rapidly departing squirrel scattering remnants of fried fish in his wake. After losing the family dinner to a rogue squirrel, my mother finally learned her lesson.

"Now, when I fry fish outside, I never leave my frying pan, the fish, or the greasy paper towels unattended," she said. "A squirrel might steal my frying pan and carry it up into the trees next time, and I won't be able to chase him up a tree. I might fall off."

At least she has a good sense of humor about it.

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Writing about relationships online since 2009.

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