When I saw you out of the corner of my eye scampering across the parking lot, I didn’t expect you to restore my faith in the universe. You seemed like just another squirrel, narrowly dodging cars, going about your squirrel business, but then I noticed something strange in your little squirrel paws.
“What is that squirrel holding?” my boyfriend asked, but before he could even finish the sentence, we both realized the answer was more glorious than we ever could have imagined.
“That squirrel,” I gasped, “is holding a mini corndog.”
We watched as you took a dainty nibble of your tiny carnival treat and bounded away into the bushes, clutching it to your furry chest.
My boyfriend and I looked at each other for a moment in awed silence before one of us spoke. I don’t remember who said it, but one of us finally whispered, “Did that seriously just happen? Did we really just see a squirrel eating a mini corndog?”
But we both knew exactly what we had just seen. I clutched my heart, suddenly feeling as though my chest might burst. I felt like the neighbor kid in “American Beauty” who films plastic bags dancing in the wind and can’t handle all the beauty in the world. You were my American Beauty, squirrel with a corndog. You were my plastic bag. You were my wind. You were Thora Birch showing me her boobs through her bedroom window. You were everything that is beautiful in this world.
I don’t know where you got your mini corndog, or if squirrels are supposed to eat corndogs, but like all great mysteries of the universe, I don’t really want to know. I want to revel in all the unknowns and possibilities of this surreal scene that unfolded in front of me for a few magical seconds in a random parking lot. Did someone give you this corndog? Did you find it somewhere? Did you make it yourself? Do you realize it was the perfect size for you? How many other people throughout history have ever seen a squirrel eating a mini corndog? A physicist in a documentary I watched recently said something that I will never forget: “Why is the universe big?” I love this question, because it’s perfect. It is simultaneously the simplest and most complex question humans could ever ask themselves. It is not unlike the question I’m now asking myself: “Why is a squirrel eating a mini corndog?”
I want to spend the rest of my life pondering this.
Anne Shirley famously said, “I’m so grateful to live in a world where there are Octobers.” I’m grateful to live in a world where there are squirrels, and mini corndogs, and the chance to witness the occasional, miraculous meeting of the two.
Thank you, squirrel, for giving me that chance.