I suspect we have all wondered how we'd react if we were startled awake and suddenly found ourselves in the middle of a terrifying home invasion.
Well, that's exactly what happened the other morning to my buddy Bob, who also happens to be my boss and could fire me if I portray him in today's column in a less-than-flattering light.
First, let's set the scene. It's early in the morning and Bob is alone because his wife has already left for work and, being a dutiful parent, my buddy has dropped his daughter off at gymnastics.
What with being exhausted from a social event the night before, Bob has returned to bed to get a little more shut-eye, and by "bed" I mean the couch in the upstairs family room because they are in the process of replacing the bed and furniture in their actual bedroom, which is currently a maze of cardboard boxes from IKEA.
Suddenly and without warning, Bob heard a sound, a horrifying sound that if, like me, you heard Bob imitate it, you would probably end up laughing so hard you would wet your pants.
"I hear this loud TKKKTKKKTKKK-TKKKTKKKTKKK sound and I thought, 'What the heck!'" Bob told me.
Our hero glanced up and there, in the corner, perched on a curtain rod, was a squirrel. I believe Bob would like you to know that, as squirrels go, this was a big one -- grey, bushy-tailed, the size of a canned ham with a fiery look of barely controlled rage in its beady black eyes.
Fortunately, Bob is not the sort of guy to immediately panic. No, Bob is the sort of guy who takes a deep breath, and then panics. "I'm thinking what the heck do I do," is how he put it the other night over a couple of pizzas and a large, calming glass of red wine.
This is probably a good time to mention that, like a lot of guys, Bob sleeps without the benefit of pyjamas, so he was feeling somewhat vulnerable when he and the squirrel locked eyes. Instantly, Bob formed the following thought: "I should probably put on gloves in case I have to pick up the squirrel and it decides to bite me."
First, however, he called a local pest-control firm, which politely informed him all their crews were busy but they could help on an emergency basis for $379. Bob may be many things, but he is not the sort of guy who is going to pay someone else $379 to get a squirrel out of his house.
"You could just open up windows and doors because the squirrel doesn't want to be in your house," a pleasant woman with the pest-control company suggested.
At this point, out of journalistic fairness, I should mention Bob is now wearing pants, a shirt and a pair of sturdy leather gloves. Bravely, he opened a window, a fact the squirrel ignored.
Next, Bob did the only logical thing -- he began lobbing pillows and sofa cushions at the squirrel to drive him out the window. Which caused the squirrel to jump down and hide behind the big-screen TV. So Bob began lobbing cushions over the TV, causing the confused critter to "race back and forth in front of the open window half a dozen times without actually going through the window."
It was at this point Bob armed himself with a broom, which apparently angered the squirrel, because -- this is the absolute truth -- it charged directly at my buddy like an enraged rhinoceros, which Bob had to fend off with his broom. "Then he raced downstairs like he was going for breakfast or something," Bob recalled.
With his foe on the main floor, Bob hit on the genius idea of blocking off the doors with IKEA packages in a bid to force the frantic rodent towards the back door.
Sensing Bob's plan, the squirrel doubled back. "He comes straight at me again and I'm pushing him with the broom and he's coming right at me... eventually he darts past me and races into the front foyer... and so I locked the door to the foyer," Bob declared.
With the squirrel trapped, our hero went out the back, waded through six-foot-high snowdrifts at the side of the house and arrived at his front door, which he flung open and discovered... "no squirrel. Where's the squirrel?"
The floor was littered with piles of winter clothing. "I had to poke each pile with the broom and I finally found him and he started jumping between piles. He'd go to one pile and I'd poke it, then he'd go to another pile and I'd poke it. Finally, he figured out the door was open and he broke from a pile of clothes and raced out the door."
In this case, Bob was victorious, but he knows the squirrel got in his house somehow, and it's still out there, lurking, biding its time, plotting with its buddies.
So, for the time being, my pal will be sleeping with one eye open. I'm willing to bet he will also be wearing leather gloves and have a large broom tucked under his pillow.