Written by Joe Janes
192 of 365
Mrs. Gruber, 60s
(Lights up on Mrs. Gruber sitting on a chair before the class, which is seated on the floor. She has one hand behind her back.)
MRS. GRUBERGood morning, children. How are you this morning? Guess what we’re going to learn about today? Have you ever seen animals? Where? The zoo? A farm? Have you ever seen an animal right outside your house or as you were walking to school? What kinds of animals do you see when you walk to school? Did anyone see my friend, Mr. Squirrel?
(She takes her hand out from behind her revealing a very simple hand puppet of a squirrel.)
MRS. GRUBER (continuing)Say, “hello,” to Mr. Squirrel everybody. (They do) Now, Mr. Squirrel did hear you, but he won’t be saying “hello” back. Does anybody know why?
JOEYHe doesn’t like us?
NATEHe’s a foreigner?
CHRISSYHe’s angry like my dad?
MRS. GRUBERNo. No. Mr. Squirrel won’t say hello because he’s a squirrel. Squirrels are stupid and don’t speak English like we do. They have tiny brains, about the size of a walnut.
KATRINAWill a squirrel try to eat its own brain?
MRS. GRUBERYes. A squirrel is not smart enough to tell it’s own brain from a walnut.
MICKEYDo squirrels speak squirrel?
MRS. GRUBERThat’s a good question, Mickey. Squirrels do speak squirrel to one another. What sort of things do you think squirrels talk about?
KATRINAWhere to find nuts.
MRS. GRUBEROr garbage. Squirrels will eat garbage, too.
MRS. GRUBERThey don’t even care that it’s your garbage and that you put a lid on it.
MICKEYYou could write you name on your garbage.
MRS. GRUBERGood idea, Mickey, but, remember, squirrels are stupid. They can’t read. Does anyone want to pet Mr. Squirrel? (They all raise their hands.) Okay, Joey. Come here and pet Mr. Squirrel.
(Joey does and just before he can touch the puppet, Mr. Squirrel nips him.)
JOEYOw! He bit me!
MRS. GRUBERThat’s right. Mr. Squirrel is a wild animal. So, what valuable lesson did Joey just learn?
NATE (raising hand)Don’t pet wild animals.
MRS. GRUBERVery good, Nathan.
MRS. GRUBERAnd what did we learn to do with cuts and bites when Mr. Doctor was here?
MICKEYCauterize the wound.
MRS. GRUBERGood boy, Mickey. Here. (She tosses Mickey a lighter who lights it and presses the flame against Joey’s finger.)
MRS. GRUBERWhat else does Joey have to worry about from being bit by a wild animal?
NATHANI know! Rabies!
MRS. GRUBERThat’s right, rabies!
CHRISSYYou can’t get rabies from a hand puppet.
MRS. GRUBERThat’s right, Chrissy. (She looks at Mr. Squirrel’s mouth.) Although, I should see if he’s had a tetanus shot recently. So, what do we do about a problem like Mr. Squirrel?
MICKEYMy grandpa eats them.
MRS. GRUBERI’m sure he does. For those of us not wishing to eat what is essentially a cute rat, what can we do?
KATRINAHit them with cars?
MRS. GRUBERGood. Tell your parents to run them down, but don’t be afraid to use your bicycles, too.
MRS. GRUBERSquirrels make excellent target practice. Aim for the head.
MICKEYAnd if you run out of bullets, you can club them with the gun.
MRS. GRUBERI like how you’re thinking, Mickey.
JOEY (regaining consciousness)Burn the trees.
MRS. GRUBERBurn the trees!
NATEYou could just not feed them.
MRS. GRUBEROh, very good, Nathan. If all else fails, cut off their food supply. Keep your garbage inside and empty those bird feeders. The squirrels will go elsewhere. They’ll go elsewhere or they will starve. Say, “good-bye” to Mr. Squirrel, children. (They do. She takes Mr. Squirrel off her hand and drops him into a small garbage can. The kids cheer. Blackout.)