Road To Portland: Part 9: In Search Of A Squirrel Whisperer

There’s no getting around it, Billy thought, smart people really are different. He glanced at the passenger seat where Doogie was happily tapping his fingers on the dash in time to an obscure disco song and added an addendum; extremely smart people are scary. He based this assessment on the fact that Doogie had just read evidence of the unthinkable and instantly digested facts which Billy (who’d witnessed them in reality) could not.

How had events led to this late-night drive? Billy reflected on the last twelve hours. He considered his experiences so far and pondered Doogie’s role in what might ensue. Billy was smarter than the average person. This made him an entirely average engineering student. He was well aware that an average engineering student was, to the average human (i.e. non-engineer), an odd duck. For example, Billy was prone to getting ripped on Jägermeister and going on rants about fractional reserve banking. He was pretty sure most people didn’t know what fractional reserve banking meant; thus proving his “odd duck” self- evaluation.

But Doogie wasn’t an average engineering student. He was a child prodigy genius whose DNA had somehow self-assembled in a dipshit backwater town that had no expectation of such things. The people of that town endured his brilliant intellect, doing what they could to hammer it down to manageable size, before finally sending him off to college in the hope that Doogie would find a world where he belonged; somewhere far from their idyllic village. Perhaps a world with many long words? Maybe a place where people played chess and read books… old books with long words. Possibly books about chess.

The townspeople hoped the boy wouldn’t grow up to be a monster, but if he did, what was it to them? So long as he was more than a day’s drive from the county courthouse, all was well. They’d tried their best. They really had. Alas there wasn’t enough Budweiser and cable television to rein the creature in; so better to deliver him to the city and run.

Doogie, for his part, held no rancor against the oppression of his upbringing. He understood them to be kind, considerate, people who couldn’t help but be terrified of him. They simply had as much in common with him as he had with a hamster.

Which was good, because Doogie was scary smart. If he’d gone evil he’d be evil efficiently. For Billy, and pretty much everyone else, there’s something sinister about a mind that observes the same world you both inhabit but plumbs deeper realities usually unrecognized. It’s even more disconcerting if the superior mind, having recognized normally unseen and presumably delicate interactions of the universe, starts tweaking the settings on a machine only he can see. Billy glanced at the passenger seat with his peripheral vision. Doogie had the ability to make a rather bright (if former) engineering student feel like a drooling moron. He was glad Doogie was there to help, but wondered what he’d just unleashed.

They were both outcasts. Billy, until he dropped out, was the sole libertarian in a teeming campus full of lockstep hive mind liberals carefully tended as livestock by a teaching staff too young to have actually experienced the 1960’s yet mentally residing there. Doogie had a mind beyond all reasonable limits and also arrived on campus at age 15. It wasn’t a smooth landing. It is possible to be the smartest person in the time zone and simultaneously wind up mocked by a bubbly pre-pharmacy airhead whose main achievement is mammary development and loose morals. That was Doogie’s life.

They naturally formed an alliance. Billy didn’t want to see the world torment such a mind until it gets mean. It wouldn’t do to have Doogie bullied. Who knew what the kid would do? If you were paying attention (and most people weren’t) Doogie’s reaction when being mistreated reminded you that Darth Vader started out as a smiling nerd who liked robots. Doogie, for his part, looked out for Billy as one protects a lovable Labrador retriever who’s clueless enough to walk in front of a train while chasing butterflies. Which is precisely the reason Billy involved him in the day’s affairs.


After the “rodeo of the pizzas” there’d been a brief standoff where the squirrels, texting rapidly, tried to negotiate for Billy’s assistance. They wanted to get to Portland; without understanding the scale of distances more than a squirrel can run in a day. They dangled the possibility of “$$$ REWARDS”. Billy had issues with a smelly half-starved bear screwing up his Subaru’s upholstery. Well that and the much bigger mental hurdle that he was negotiating, through the intercession of an iPhone, with squirrels that had a Paypal account and pet bear.

They needed a driver. He was underemployed and had no other prospects. God and Ayn Rand (if it was allowable to put both in the same sentence) wanted this deal to go down. But the cultural divide was too great.

Finally, after many texts went back and forth, and the bear tried to attack Billy, and Billy demonstrated what a Glock can do… they were at an impasse. In a flash of brilliance (or at least brilliance at Billy’s level, for Doogie considered it an obvious idea that should have been tried immediately) Billy understood they both needed the assistance of a mind that was… flexible. He made a final text. “I will get another person who is wise and negotiate a mutually agreeable compromise. I will return with him at dawn. Agreed?”

To which the squirrels replied “GOOD IDEA. WE OFFER $$$. BRING MORE FOOD TOO.”

About AdaptiveCurmudgeon

Adaptive Curmudgeon is handsome, brave, and wise.

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2 Responses to Road To Portland: Part 9: In Search Of A Squirrel Whisperer

  1. Shampoo with conditioner for the bear?

  2. Mark Matis says:

    Now please don’t start mocking the “bubbly pre-pharmacy airhead whose main achievement is mammary development and loose morals“. Those credentials will get one at least a B+ average in any field of study at any major university in this country, although one might have to carefully choose one’s professors. And of course, it helps if one is Lebanese, or a Bicycle…

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