Gary prides himself on being the maître d'hôtel catering to the wildlife set. Only the best birdseed. Only the finest nuts. No trendy fads like suet.
While Gary's back was out, I took over the daily animal feedings. Gary has now established multiple feedings to make up for lost time, and because it's winter. Every once in a while Gary lets me feed them, but he doesn't like it. "DID YOU MOUND THE NUTS UP IN A CONE SHAPE?" he demands. No, I didn't. They are animals. They don't care about presentation.
I went out to fill up the nut tray and saw a squirrel there. Just standing. Just eating some nuts. Not moving. I got about six feet from him. He didn't move. I threw some nuts at him. He didn't move.
I approached slowly, throwing nuts all the way. He didn't move until I was three feet away, when he ran off.
In the nut tray was a mysterious pile of sunflower seeds with the hulls on. I don't know where they came from. Ours is a classy dining establishment. We use only the hull-free sunflower seeds. I don't know what device they use to get the hulls off the sunflower seeds, but it's only the best for our clientele. The unprocessed seeds really surprised me.
The weird behavior of the squirrel bothered me. At first, I thought: deaf squirrel. Couldn't hear me coming. Then I realized he was so invested in eating he didn't care if he got caught. So here are the possibilities:
- The unprocessed seeds were a suggestion. Our demographic is changing. This was the wine bar equivalent of "Do you got Ripple here?" That squirrel went out, got some sunflower hulls, and left them in a tray so we might broaden our menu.
- The unprocessed seeds were a tip. I hear that crows will barter and exchange gifts with people; perhaps squirrels do.
- The unprocessed seeds were in his cheeks when he chanced by our nut tray and found a better level of food than what was already in his face. He spat them into the tray, and was upscaling when I found him and forced his hand.
I like the last one best. I picture him like an alcoholic father, bringing the bacon home to his family, then passing a liquor store. He stops at the liquor store for a little "me" time, and loses his family's grocery money. Had there been a stuffed toy at our nut tray he would have bought one for his squirrel babies.
I watched the nut tray for five minutes after, and I didn't see him come back. I went out and dug through the new nuts to show him his spit seeds were still there, then I thought, what, are you crazy?
Mystery solved. Gary looked closely at the latest shipment of peanuts, and it appears to have stray unprocessed sunflowers seeds mixed in. "Filler!" Gary cried, indignant. I said I hoped the raccoons weren't going to give us bad reviews on Yelp.