The repellent scent of man and other tidings of joy

Posted on December 29th, 2009 13 great comments. Room for one more!

Last day of vacation; regret upon regret. I was supposed to do all sorts of things before the arbitrary tick of the annum clock (I’m very annal about some things). But I did manage to clean my place in time for the folks’ visit — I was up until the unholy hours, but I did it! And my parents expressed surprise that it wasn’t as dystopian and shelled-out as I had led them to believe.

In the process, incidentally, I had another break in the missing underwear case — possibly the break.

laundry, socks, underwear, margarine container, toronto, city, life

Two breaks, actually. Number one, my whities. So that’s one less to worry about. And a margarine container?


Okay, back story here. I had found similar containers, many caked with mud and (seemingly) dried saliva, in a variety of nooks and crannies around the place. Gotta tell ya, I didn’t remember absconding with any margarine containers from, really, anywhere recently. I don’t even eat margarine – I’m a real creamery butter kinda guy. So I was initially mystified as to how they had all ended up in my flat.

One day, while sitting on my couch watching something pleasantly dull, a black squirrel hopped onto the sill just behind the monitor — Ollie uses that window to get out onto the overhang and lord over his domain one storey below. I always kept the possibility of something getting into the flat at the back of my head. There are some overfed raccoons that like to hang around at the jumping-distance tree in the front yard. And the wires that hang from the street to the house make jumping mostly unnecessary for anything smaller. Not for Ollie – he’s too comfortable, but squirrels and chipmunks, no problem.

Whatever would get in, I thought, would likely ransack the kitchen for something to nibble on. There would be ample evidence that I’d finally been broken into by wildlife and that I was right not to trust them all along. Especially raccoons – they already look like criminals for God’s sake!

But when I spotted that squirrel on the sill, and what was that in it’s mouth? A margarine container?


The squirrel had been storing its margarine surreptitiously at my place for the winter – basically using it as a food cupboard. That, I had not expected. I’d also expected Ollie to be a little more vigilant with guarding the flat against invading rodents with chaseably bushy tails. But he literally picked up his head, glanced at the squirrel, gave me a glazed-over look, and dropped his head right back down to sleep. Ollie and old Blackie, it seems, are old buddies. What other explanation is there?

The squirrel leapt, almost imperceptibly, to the side table that holds my monitor, margarine container in full view. I thought that the act of standing up suddenly would be enough to spook the squirrel back out into the night. Nope. Little fucker stood there, didn’t even flinch. Just kinda side-glanced me like he was dissing me. I could’ve sworn I heard him kiss his teeth.

I took two steps forward – the full width of my living room – only then did the squirrel finally mosey back over to the sill. This was in late November, I knew I’d be keeping the windows closed for the next half decade-ish, so I was really more curious to look into the eyes of such an audacious creature than to try to scare it from entering again. Perhaps promise that I would eat its heart for courage if I ever caught it and killed it it in a death match or found its frozen carcass out in the snow – in true urban warrior spirit, and out of respect for its brave little soul.

I would cry a little when I ate that squirrel.

Luckily I don’t have to do that. The squirrel finally walked off and has only flitted by my window on rare occasions. I’m still finding the random margarine container wedged between the sofa cushions or stuck in behind the bookcase, but the mountain of rags reeking with the repellent scent of man is no longer available, and the window is closed now anyway. I saw the squirrel a couple of weeks ago as I was trying to squeeze open-window season to its limit – he eyed me from the sill, margarine container firmly in his grasp, but the fight will have to wait until spring – he retreated and I haven’t seen him since. He’s now probably nestled into a hole in a tree or in some sucker’s comfortable drywall, family cozied up for warmth, my missing underwear at the entrance keeping predators at bay with a chemical-scent shield. If the little ones have the constitution of their dad, the odour won’t faze them. Impressive.

So, yeah, no freakin’ way. It must be the squirrel. And I accused Ollie of the undergarment thefts already; I feel like a heel. He pretended not to understand what I was saying. I could tell he was hurt though; he had that dejected look on his face and stopped eating for, like, 300 seconds. It seemed like an eternity. Now I may owe him a huge apology. Then I’ll cuss him out for letting the squirrel in here.

But other than the case, of course, I’ve been busy with Christmas.

christmas tree, gifts, presents, living room, toronto, city, life

I spent a good amount of my life on GO trains, heading west to see my sister, twice, and then east to gather some documents. The documents ended up being the one gift I’d been hoping for this season – both some evidence that the ex is entangled in some untoward business (at my expense :( ), and the fact that finally, I can say with authority … I was right. Oooh. Plus, I learned a couple of new pieces of information — stocking stuffers. Sent a shiver up my spine. Maybe I watch too much Poirot, but I definitely felt a private investigator vibe – and I liked it.

However, travelling the rails around this time of year is not something I’m keen to repeat. On the 24th, Union Station was a zoo and line-ups for anything went out the doors.

union station, go concourse, trains, locomotives, passengers, commuters, toronto, city, life

I don’t know if this is a normal thing or if it’s just holiday travellers, but everyone had their feet on the seats. I mean, it’s bad enough on a dry summer day, but these people had just trudged through snow, sludge, cigarette butts, salt, and partially thawed dog crap, and didn’t think twice about wiping it all generously on the seat in front of them. I think I’ll have to contact the Practical Urban Gentleman on this matter – it was epidemic.

However, a generous dip into the Bailey’s upon arrival soothed all my cares away and Christmas went pretty well after that. Of course, there were many eardrum-shattering screams emanating from the children, but we all managed through it somehow.

One day the boys will appreciate the dual Christmas they get just by virtue of the family they were born into, but for now it’s just an overload for their senses. They literally sit there tearing into presents day and night; by the time they’re done they’ll have gone through all the horrific, carnal, murderous stages of the Lord of the Flies. I believe they even got the symbolic stuck pig as a gift from their grandma this year. Okay, well, the pig is electronic and rolls around and laughs and is mostly cartoonish with no real evidence of any blood or violence or actually being stuck, but the symbolism is obvious.

In the end, only devastation and wide-eyed terror lay below the Christmas tree.

cat, christmas tree, gifts, presents, toronto, city, life

But with the extra couple of days I took off to round out an extended weekend (my employer believes in only the most statutory of holidays), I managed to squeeze some late nights and long sleeps in there. It’s also how come I have so much to talk about in this post.

I even managed to get a haircut at some point.


I would say that this Christmas season has been successfully tackled. I managed to make my mom cry again (I try to do that with every gift), and I was able to correctly time it so that about 95% of photos of me will be with my eyes closed. And for the few that escaped I wonder, little sis, did I sneakily delete the photos from your camera when your back was turned?

dinner table, christmas, sister, photo, camera, toronto, city, life

Now, no more gifty holidays or birthdays in the immediate future other than mine. Sweet. Also, one and a half days of uninspired slackery until it’s party time and another long weekend for the much-needed recovery. Double-sweet.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I gotta go spend some of my new gift cards on a parka. I only have a few more hours in which to be intoxicated. After that, genuine outdoor protection is a must — even a fiery, spirited heart can die of exposure out there (so I certainly can). Besides, I recently discovered that I was right, so I’ll trust in my judgment on this one. I might have to be a bit cold-blooded later on so it’s better to prepare now.

13 Comments on “ The repellent scent of man and other tidings of joy ”

  • turnip
    December 29th, 2009 6:57 pm

    Try coating the window sill with red pepper flakes mized with vasoline. That should give that pesky squirrel the message.

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  • Patrick
    December 30th, 2009 12:02 pm

    Thanks for the advice, Turnip. Will this also keep cats away/indoors?

  • Kato
    December 29th, 2009 7:02 pm

    I can't believe that cheeky little squirrel. My question is, where was he getting all those containers from?

    Glad you had a nice holiday!

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  • Patrick
    December 30th, 2009 12:03 pm

    Kato, that's exactly what I'd like to know. It's been going on for a while now so either someone's not being careful with their margarine supply or the squirrel's been storing them elsewhere. If I had to hazard a guess, though, I'd say he's been stealing them from the hotel across the street.

  • Leigh
    December 30th, 2009 7:38 am

    Very funny squirrel story! Where the heck is it getting all the margarine containers though?

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  • Patrick
    December 30th, 2009 12:05 pm

    You're not the only one asking that question, Leigh :) My guess would be the hotel across the street. I can't imagine people buying individual containers like this for their home. Then again, I can't imagine people doing a lot of other stuff even though they still do it.

  • Lidian
    December 30th, 2009 9:25 am

    Perhaps next year the squirrel would like some Tupperware from Value Village.

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  • Patrick
    December 30th, 2009 12:06 pm

    Next year, Lidian, I think I'm just going to leave a few sticks of butter out on the overhang; teach the critters about good flavour!

  • Ivy
    December 30th, 2009 7:58 pm

    Good life, good memory!

    Wish I have too.

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  • Patrick
    December 31st, 2009 2:45 pm

    Haha! My memory, Ivy? I wouldn't use the word "good", but thanks all the same :)

  • Man Over Board
    December 31st, 2009 11:37 am

    Patrick, for this coming New Year 2010: Take a deep breathe, try and take a half hour a day just for you. Close your eyes and just meditate. Lite a candle, keep all noises at bay and don't think of anything, clear your mind.

    But before you do that, have a rock and roll time tonight as it's New Years Eve, have a wonderful New Years, Glenn

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  • Patrick
    December 31st, 2009 2:40 pm

    Already done, Glenn, already done. And I liked it! Except for the candle bit. Ollie's not exceptionally stable a lot of the time and he's liable to produce quite a thud — a seismic force large enough to knock down more than a few things. And as regards the rocking and the rolling, yes, I intend to do one or both of those. Cheers!

    And happy new year :)

  • Renee
    December 31st, 2009 5:08 pm

    hahaha….good blog!! well written. Even if you HAD erased some of those pics from your sis's camera, I'm sure there's other media you may have missed. ;)

    Hope you're enjoying your New Years!!! Will talk again in the New Year.


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