Revised “the chipmunk story”
In the summer of 1995, when my mother and I were living in a three-bedroom house deep in the wooden area of Elverson, Pennsylvania and months before my mother and my stepdad had started dating, I spent most of my days playing outside and doing things a nine-year-old girl with an active imagination and the woods to keep me company. The curved driveway, which is important to note, was shared by three other home: on the east side of the driveway. While our mailbox was up on the far west side, it was the east entrance that my mother and I used the most.
The first house, a very small one at that, barely housed the family of four residing in it nor was their lawn big enough to do anything with it: no garden, no room to comfortably throw a football or a baseball nor the room to play with imaginary friends. At the start of the driveway, which was the only entrance towards our house that we used, they had a random rectangular stone pillar with cement frog statues and for the longest time I thought they looked like naked ladies. I don’t recall who lived in the next house, but deeper in the woods laid the third house. The house, which, at the time, always seemed to me as though they had a menagerie of animals. In truth, the middle-aged couple had two white cats, an old golden retriever and a few horses. The dog, to my nine-year-old brain, found his usual activity incredibly hilarious every time I would see him scoot his butt along the graveled driveway. Then there were the horses, which to this day bewildered me as to why the couple would have them fenced in a part of their neighborhood where there were more trees than room for the cloven to run freely.
However, it was one of the white cats, who always ventured onto my property on a regular basis, where the heart of the story begins. My mother not allowing us to have a cat the time because I had a bit of an allergy to them, so I took pleasure in being able to pet and play with the feline. On one particular day, when this cat came over in the backyard and my mother and one of her female friends were chatting away in my mother’s bedroom at the front of the house, I noticed the cat had something in its mouth. Out of curiosity, I cautiously crept closer to get a better look. The cat took no notice of me; partially because its back was to me, and partly because of its full attention being on whatever was in its mouth. Upon closer inspection, I came to realize that what the cat had caught was a chipmunk! My heart dropped at the thought of a poor chipmunk dying under the sharp fangs of this white cat. Although, not too much longer after I had had this heartbreaking thought, the cat dropped the presumed dead chipmunk, and things took an unexpected turn.
It turns out the chipmunk was far from being dead. Once the chipmunk was out of the clutches of the cat’s razor-sharp teeth, the small creature wasted no time in running around the cat and towards me. It climbed up my leg into my turquoise-colored shorts. At this time of my life, the show America’s Funniest Home Videos was very popular. So, having an active imagination and despite the fear coursing through my whole body with the chipmunk resting under my left butt cheek, I wondered where the camera was—though we didn’t own one. Realizing how silly that thought it was and my body momentarily unable to move because I was very worried that the chipmunk would bite me and I would get rabies, I tried to think of a way… any way for to get the chipmunk to leave my shorts. Looking around me, I noticed that there were acorns by my feet.
Chipmunks love acorns! my nine-year-old self thought, hopeful it would be the solution to my current situation.
I quickly unbuttoned and unzipped my shorts. Cautiously and carefully positioning myself in a semi-crouch position, I extended my arm and reached for the acorns. Though when I finally had a few acorns in my hand, a new fear of moving out of this position was very present in my mind. By sheer luck I had been able to grab the acorns and I wasn’t confident enough to think the luck would continue. Regardless, I quickly took my chances and dropped the acorns down my shorts. Well, the acorns moved away from my shorts and back on the ground. The chipmunk, however, moved from under my butt and under my crotch.
Shoot! I thought. Now what?
I thought and thought about a new plan. And after what seemed like hours when in reality, it was more likely a minute or so, another idea hit me. Yes, it was summer, but it was cool enough for my mother to have her bedroom windows fully open most likely. So, I shouted the names of both my mother and her friend in hopes they would hear me. But after calling their names at least five times and not hearing a single response, I dreaded the knowledge that I would have to somehow make my way from the back of the house to the front without the chipmunk suddenly deciding that now would be a good time to give me rabies with a single bite. Taking a few deep breaths and still finding myself in a semi-crouching position, I slowly walked toward my mother’s bedroom. The several concrete steps and part of the graveled driveway where the cars would usually park were my next biggest obstacles.
When I finally reached my mother’s bedroom, I felt immediate relief when I spotted the windows were open— and that the chipmunk had not taken a small chunk of my flesh just yet. I worked up the courage to say, “Mom, there’s a chipmunk in my shorts!”
“You’re pulling my leg,” I heard my mother say in a bit of a chuckle.
“No, Mom, there really is a chipmunk in my shorts,” I said in the most serious and calm tone I could manage.
Suddenly, I heard two sets of feet racing out of my mother’s bedroom and out the front door. The two of them, on either side of me, seemed as frozen about what to do as I had been when the chipmunk initially ran up my shorts. I don’t recall exactly what they had said or the multiple plans they relayed to one another on how to get the small creature out of my shorts. What I do remember was the plan they finally decided on, which incorporated pulling down my shorts and somehow grabbing or shooing away the animal. As an adult, the whole thing leading up to executing their plan reminded me of the pre-prom scene in There’s Something About Mary. My mother’s friend, her hands on either side of my shorts, counted up to three.
“One… two… THREE!” my mom’s friend shouted, There were beads of sweat visible on both hers and my mother’s faces. I, on the other hand, wasn’t really sure how to feel or if it would work. All I knew was the temptation to shut my eyes and that I wanted the chipmunk out of my shorts by any means possible without the fear that the small creature would suddenly decide to bite me.
The moment my shorts were pulled down below my knees, the chipmunk leaped out of the back of my shorts like a metal ball from a cannon and jumped into a hole underneath the house. The three of us sighed in relief. The chipmunk was never seen again, but the telling of the story has lived on as proof that it was far from being a fabricated story and something that had actually happened to me. And as embarrassing as the incident was, the more I told it over the past 26 years and noticed the joy it brought to others, the less embarrassed I became in telling it. Because if you think about it how many people do you know anyway who could honestly say they experienced having a chipmunk inside their shorts and lived to tell the tale?