For much of my early childhood, dad was a traveling salesman (though not the kind that lent themselves to jokes about people in that profession). In a typical year he was gone almost half the year, driving from one client to the next.
When he came home I was always delighted to see him. Delighted because I knew that night he would tell me a story. That was the best part of his leaving and coming home.
I remember that he returned one day from a very long trip and, as I lay in bed, he told me the story of “The Lady And Her Squirrel Fur Coat”.
I would like to share that with you.
Once upon a time there was a lady by the name of Marcie who lived in New York with her husband Alvin. Marcie had always wanted a fur coat – but her husband didn’t earn enough to be able to buy her one – not chinchilla, not mink, not even rabbit. But Marcie wanted a fur coat so badly that she nagged her husband constantly for one.
One day Alvin came up with an idea. He thought, “Squirrels have fur. Why not get a squirrel fur coat for his wife and put all this conversation to rest?”
So he went to a furrier and asked if they had any squirrel fur coats. The furrier looked at him with disdain.
“Please, sir. This house specializes only in the finest furs. WE DON’T CARRY SQUIRREL!”
But before leaving the furrier he asked, “If I provided the pelts, could you fashion them into a coat?”
The furrier said that they could do that.
He came home and asked Marcie if she would accept a squirrel fur coat. She said that she would be happy to have a fur, no matter what animals contributed it.
So Alvin told Marcie his plan.
They would buy a boy and girl squirrel. Those two would have baby squirrels and in no time at all they would have enough squirrels to make Marcie a coat. Marcie like the idea and agreed to feed and take care of the squirrels until they had a sufficient number for her coat.
So Alvin came home with a boy and a girl squirrel and they put them in a cage in their spare bedroom.
Well, nature took its course and soon the two squirrels had given birth to six baby squirrels. The babies soon grew and they had forty more babies. And the forty babies had more babies and soon there were well over 300 squirrels in Alvin and Marcie’s apartment.
Alvin thought, this has got to be more than enough squirrels to make a coat for my wife. And he planned that on Saturday, he would slaughter and skin them and take the pelts to the furrier.
At this point in the story I remember speaking up saying, “Oh no, daddy. They didn’t kill all those sweet squirrels, did they?” Dad said, “Just a second and I’ll tell you how the story ends.”
Saturday arrived and Alvin went into the kitchen to find their largest knife. He returned to the room in which all the squirrels were kept. But as he opened the cage to pull out his first victim, Marcie rushed into the room.
She said, “Stop, Alvin. I’ve gotten too fond of these squirrels. (She had named all of them and enjoyed their antics and loved to feed them). I don’t care if I have a fur coat if it means killing all these wonderful creatures.”
So Alvin and Marcie made many trips and set all of the squirrels free.
And that’s why there are so many squirrels in Central Park.
And I nodded off to sleep with visions of happy, playful squirrels running through the trees.
Would that we humans could be so compassionate to our fellow men as Alvin and Marcie were to their squirrels.