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Valley Nature I was thinking of this squirrely guy I know while standing in our backyard the other day, waiting for my dog to do his business, procrastinating the process because he knows I’m an impatient person, and waiting around on him drives me crazier than I already am. That’s when I happened to spy a real one. A squirrel that is; and it got me thinking: why have squirrels gotten such a bad rap? In other words, whoever came up with the idea of calling a squirrely person just that, squirrely? Why not a hippo? Or a chipmunk. Rats are already taken. We all know our fair share. Cockroach is taken – “You cockroach, you.” Leeches? Also taken: “You’re nothing but a leech who leeches off of people.” Of course. That’s what leeches do, duh. In the water world, barracudas are also used to describe people: “I need to find me an attorney who’s a barracuda.” Even the generic term, beast, is a common word: “You’re nothing but a beast.” Of course, the female dog – the bitch – well, how many of those have I met over the years? Too many to count; and I’m still counting. In fact, unless the word “bitch” is contained in the context of a female dog, I wouldn’t use it in this newspaper. I’d get phone calls. The worm is another one. “You dirty worm.” In fact, to be called a worm, you really have to have done something terrible to someone. Mother to daughter: “You married a worm.” Sob, sob. Or: “You really wormed your way into this corporation, didn’t you?” Pig is another animal phrase used to describe people, and it has nothing to do with corpulence. For whatever reason, men often carry the brunt of it: “You filthy pig.” Or, “How can you live like a pig?” Okay, so I’m a bachelor and haven’t cleaned the dishes for a month or changed my sheets for a year, does that make me a pig? Yeah, pretty much. On the other hand, consider the bushy-tailed squirrels. What is it about a squirrel that has made humans adopt their name to describe a squirrely person? “The dude is downright squirrely.” Not quite sure, I looked up the squirrel, after watching the one in my backyard scamper up a tree, happy, along with me, that my dog was now through with his nature’s call. Turns out, there’s nothing I could find connecting the squirrely animal to the squirrely person. By the way, what is ...

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