Though I’ve eked out a relatively average existence up to this point—one that, when explained, would only bore the reader, Stuie has managed to assemble a rather singular history. And because he is much too humble to describe it to you himself, the tale becomes my obligation to relate. I graciously accept this task, and, though I know that it is cliché to say “and these words may not do it justice,” they have never been truer than in this instance (which is also cliché (see what I did there?)). So I begin:
Stuie was raised by squirrels, but he wasn’t your typical feral child for one important reason: he was actually birthed by a tree squirrel. The circumstances of this are similar to the classic myth “Leda and the Swan” in Greek mythology. The twist here is that, instead of a god impersonating a swan and seducing a woman, a god impersonated a man and seduced a squirrel. Also, the swan story is a myth; this story is true.
Yes, my biking companion is half squirrel, half god. His squirrel genetics are portrayed very obviously in his early childhood pictures—the uncontrollably bushy hair, the massive, protruding front teeth, the wild-eyed stare. He has, since, grown out of most of his defining squirrel traits. However, one only needs to notice his hairiness to be reassured of his squirrel heritage. Conversely, it is evident that the god genes manifest themselves strongly in Stuie’s actual appearance. Here, you may say, “That kid doesn’t look anything like a Greek god.” But I counter: he doesn’t look much like a squirrel, either. He looks like a human. It is arguable which pole he’s drawn towards on the looks spectrum, but most are happy with the human median.
There is debate about what god’s sperm Stu came from. Knowing this would provide insight into his past actions and his future abilities, but not even Stuie knows. Some people, after having seen him play basketball and/or publically speak, have been confident that he came from Hermes’s seminal fluid. But, having known and observed him for over fifteen years, I’d bet on Clapton’s.
He was named (and I spell it in phonetic Squirrellish) “stwEEE.” This roughly translates to “smells like rotten lasagna in the artificial swimming pool,” a romantic concept in Squirrel culture that adequately portrays his genesis. Of course, as my friend gradually began associations with the human race, “stwEEE” was humanized to “Stuie” and, later, to “Stuart.”
An individual ignorant of Squirrel culture might argue that our subject’s high degree of intelligence, relative to that of a squirrel, is one indication of his divine conception. That would be wrong. Stuie was blessed to be raised and educated by Squirrels. Within the Sciuridae education system, he learned three languages by the age of four—tree squirrel, prairie dog, and mountain beaver. By the time I met him at five, he knew seven languages, and he was semi-conversational in English. Of course, most Squirrel formal education is done within the first two years of birth, so, by the time Stuie was ready to enter the human education system, he was better prepared than most children: he was adept at identifying types of nuts, and he could effectively smell and locate garbage within a three mile radius. Obviously, these abilities are useful in life, as well as on a bike trip.
As the boy grew, it became apparent to his tribe that providing for him within Squirrel civilization would become unsustainable. Wisely, his mother gave him up for adoption. This is how he came to enter the life of a human.
I had the privilege of meeting the young Mr. Chipman while we both attended Diane Beetle’s daycare. We grew to be acquaintances, but our time together at this stage in our formative years would be short lived. Alas, Stuie’s mental prowess shined to such an extent at this early age that he independently invented the chimichanga. Having such a limited upbringing in terms of human culture, let alone cuisine foreign to North American forests, he ignored insistence that the dish was already in existence and used a hyperbolic determination and creative tenacity, traits that would become classic Stu, to market his product. He left his home and, for the next seven years of his life, battled with courts, judges, copy rights, governments, and other embodiments of “the man,” trying to legitimize his unoriginal creation. Finally, deciding to delay the battle to further his education, he returned to Sault Ste. Marie. I haven’t spoken with him for some time about the subject, so I don’t know what his current feelings and intentions are towards the chimichanga. But I’m quite sure Stuie’s interests in law, Mexico, and the Spanish language are founded in these early life struggles.
He and I would find each other again in middle school, where we played on the same basketball team. He displayed godly prowess on the court. Because he ran faster and jumped higher than most others his age, he didn’t feel the need to change out of his khakis during contests. Open gyms would often show a formally-dressed, squirrelly individual punishing the confidences of his peers. This ensemble arrogance angered his distant family on Mt. Olympus. The gods thought themselves to be the only beings that should look stylish while exercising. For punishment, they stunted Stuie’s growth, and plagued him with a belly button with an abnormally high magnetism for lint.
After hooping together, we became close friends. I found his ability to converse with squirrels amusing, and he valued my ability to reach things on the top shelf. We matured into high school together.
Our sophomore History class provided an impetus for growth within Stuie’s life and our relationship. He handed in a paper that used the word “you” too many times for the teacher’s liking, so, in an extreme act of discipline not surprising with regard to her witch-like disposition, she cursed him to live the same class period over and over. Initially, he fell into a deep depression and would often spend hours sitting at his desk picking at his belly button lint.
Eventually, however, he realized the blessing that existed in having unlimited time. He used that eternal History period to gain extensive knowledge in a multitude of areas. He learned about Paul Revere and Lewis and Clark, Davey Crockett and David Bowie. He learned to play foosball and chess and twenty questions. He learned to converse well with people and appear interested in what they say, and he learned insights into the lives of his classmates, including myself. At last, he broke the curse by convincing each person in the class one thing that he/she had doubted. He convinced me that turkey bacon would be a good substitute for peanut butter, an idea that would become a cornerstone of our friendship.
Stuie adapted this last anecdote into the screenplay Groundhog Day starring Billy Murray. (Interestingly, he wanted Matt Damon to play the role instead of Murray.) The royalties that he would have received from the success of that movie would have given him a comfortable life. But, in an act of familial altruism (classic Stu) and, perhaps, insanity, he established a trust fund using the royalties to provide for all former, current, and future Punxsutawney Phil’s. In fact, each groundhog, if it so chooses, could receive enough funds to attend a four year university and establish a career for itself.
We progressed into the later years of high school, and, at seventeen, Stuie finally asked his childhood sweetheart for her hand in marriage. Barbeau, the Tree Squirrel Queen, happily accepted. Of course, the story becomes complicated after this proposal and the addition of a female third-party. So, perhaps, it would be best to clarify this sub-story with a subtitle.
Stuart of Swinton
… to be continued in a later blog post (but only if there’s a mandate for it (so comment on this business if you dig)).
After high school graduation, we parted ways, each to an establishment of higher education that would best enable us to pursue our interests at that time in our lives. Stuie left to SVSU, and I, Hope. And this, reader, is where I must discontinue the story because you probably know as much about his exploits during his college years as I do, or you could, at least, investigate his exploits just as easily as I could. Though, friends he and I are, the distance between us makes it difficult to visit one another, to enact further adventures together. I’ve only been able to see squirrel boy a few times a year, and these times are used to summarize our time apart. My knowledge of his history during these years is only provided to me by word, not action. Now, you can see, reader, this bike trip is as much an adventure, an exploration, as it is a reunion of a friendship.
Man, I'm gettin kinda mushy with these posts. I'll ease up.