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JAY EDWARDS

And a varmint will never quit... ever. They're like the Viet Cong. -- Carl Spackler

My friend called last month to complain about squirrels in his attic.

“Is that similar to bats in your belfry?” I asked, but he wasn’t in the mood.

I called him back a few days ago to see if he’d had any luck getting them to move on. He said they had succeeded in keeping them out of the attic, but they do have one hanging around that keeps looking in the window.

“He tries to look as cute and un-rat-like as he can,” my friend says. “And he’s kind of pulling it off.”

Homeownership is filled with menace (besides Comcast customer service). Before we moved to our apartment, the last threat we had were chipmunks. They began showing themselves about four years ago, very near the time when our Cairn Terrier, Gus, passed on to that big rock pile and tavern in the sky.

One day I came home and spotted one in our driveway. He looked at me for a moment and then disappeared into the bushes. “He’s a cute little guy,” I thought. Even KM, who believes most four-legged creatures (and many two-legged ones) are descendants of rats, gave out a sincere little “Aww.”

All those warm feelings changed at Christmas that year when our lights began acting funny and one of our ovens went out. After spending what I knew was an expensive amount of time under our house, the electrician told me something had chewed on the wires.

“Something?”

“Yes.”

“Care to expound on that.”

“Well, there are a few possibilities, but have you seen any chipmunks around your yard?”

After fixing the wires and giving some tips on what to do about the rodents, our electrician drove away. And I didn’t think about it again.

Until about three weeks later when the lights in the kitchen began acting funny. I looked out into our back yard; with the same deep stare Chief Brody gave the ocean from the shores of Amity.

What I saw was a theme park for squirrels, chipmunks and rabbits; not to mention many different species of birds and one big fat Copperhead, whom I hoped would at least feast on a chipmunk or two.

I called the electrician back while KM went Googling, to research what other victims of chipmunks recommended. She soon came back with a solution I didn’t much like.

“Most of them swear by something known as “Walking the Plank,” she said with a straight face.

“Do you dress up like a pirate wench?” I asked. But she ignored me and continued. “We need a bucket, a short board and some sunflower seeds. You fill the bucket with water, place it strategically in your yard, lean the board against it and cover it and the top of the water with the seeds. They eat their way up the board until, splash! People say it never fails,” she finished with a look that was scaring me a little.

“So, chipmunks can’t swim?”

“Oh they can swim, but like anything else, they will eventually get tired and sink.”

“God, that sounds pretty mean.”

“Would you rather have them chew through your wires, starting a fire so we burn up in our sleep?”

“Uh, let me think about it.”

Before our electrician came back out to survey the damage, KM and I headed out to Walmart in search of some Pest-B-Gone. Inside the store I browsed the “Guaranteed to get rid of all pests,” products while KM took it to another level. She soon returned with a big plastic owl, which really didn’t look that fake.

I was skeptical, but at least it didn’t involve drowning.

Jay Edwards is a freelance columnist who can be reached at chips7591@gmail.com.

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