The following is the third in my series of reproducing (barely edited) material I wrote in my mid-twenties. I have two years of these columns. If you’re appetite for these writing relics is not sufficiently sated, let me know, and down the line, I’ll deliver some more. They were originally is a newspaper, so “deliver” is the right word.
This one is an allegory. The point it’s trying to make is… I have no idea. I just like the writing.
I hope you do too.
Harry grew up in the woods. He had been abandoned there as a little baby.
Well, not exactly abandoned. What happened was Harry’s mother wanted to surprise Harry’s father with Harry on his birthday – the father’s birthday, not Harry’s.
Harry’s mother knew if she kept Harry around the house, her husband would probably find out about him. So she hid the baby in the woods, a place her husband never visited, being allergic to bark.
However, when Harry’s father’s birthday arrived a few months later, Harry’s mother forgot all about Harry and went out and bought her husband a nice tie. And that was that.
There in a basket, deep in the forest, lay a young male infant with a little note saying, “You’re Harry” pinned to his diaper. But this is not where our story ends. Oh no indeed!
Eventually, Harry was found and raised by an elderly childless squirrel and his wife. Together, they taught the boy everything he needed to know – tree climbing, storing nuts, and looking cute.
He learned his lessons well. Except for the diaper, you couldn’t distinguish Harry from any of the other squirrels.
Despite the similarities, Harry often felt left out, mainly because he was too big to fit inside trees. As he grew older, his mind teemed with philosophical questions like, “Are you a squirrel’s mind?” and “What does the note on my diaper say?”
Then one day, a curious Harry scurried into town. He wasn’t in a rush, or anything. Scurrying is a squirrel’s only speed.
In town, Harry noticed with satisfaction that few of its inhabitants would be able to fit inside trees. He felt a subtle unspoken kinship with them – unspoken, for Harry, of course, knew no words.
Passing a grocery store and feeling kinda hungry, Harry picked up an apple from an outside basket. This proved to be a dramatic turning point. For Harry’s first buck-toothed bite set off a wailing alarm in the apple, and in less that a trice, he was being carted off to jail by the local constabulary.
Of course, Harry had absolutely no idea what was going on. The only thing his squirrel-trained mind could come up with was that he was being arrested for eating.
Harry wanted very much to be like the people in town, whom he resembled more than he did a squirrel. So he solemnly vowed never to eat again. Eating, he decided, was for squirrels and other lower forms of life.
When his squirrel-parents came to visit him in jail, Harry felt embarrassed and refused to acknowledge any connection with them. His behavior was cold but necessary. None of the other inmates had squirrels visiting them.
Meanwhile, he was starving. When the guards passed trays of food to him through the bars, Harry thought it was a test, and he didn’t touch a bite of it. He felt that every time he ate, they’d stretch his sentence. So he abstained completely.
It wasn’t easy. So he knew it was right.
In time, Harry got so thin he could fit through the bars of his cell. So he did. And he scampered away. He tried to scurry, but found out he had lost the knack.
As he ran along the street, Harry thought he heard a shady-looking guy standing in a doorway ask him if he wanted a nice peach. But he couldn’t be sure. His mind was on fire.
Eventually, Harry found himself in a barn on the edge of town. Exhausted, he fell asleep and started dreaming about beautiful girls, which even an amateur psychologist can tell you is a disguised substitute for that taboo dream subject – food.
When he awoke in a hungry sweat, Harry pondered the utter vileness of his condition. He was on the horns of a dilemma. If he ate, he was a ravenous beast. If he didn’t, it was “Goodbye, Harry.”
Harry rested his head on his knees. Wishing very hard that he had never left the forest.