American TV used to have a show in the early 60s called "Queen for a Day." Its popularity was drawn from its ability to tug at, if not completely unravel, the public's heartstrings. Women would appear on camera and go head-to-head (or tearduct-to-tearduct) with heart-wrenching stories of personal difficulty, and the one who left viewers drenched in the highest possible ophthalmic tsunami would wear the crown and carry off the financial bounty to help solve her considerable woes.
Now we have Squirrel for a Day. At least two news items in the past week have placed people nicknamed "Squirrel" on opposite ends of the popularity spectrum: From Middlesboro, Tennessee comes news of the death of David "Squirrel" Newton Cardwell, a Vietnam vet, proud father, avid golfer and obviously someone who - as his newspaper obituary states - was beloved for his sense of humor. We have no clue as to why he was called "Squirrel" but it is obviously a term bestowed with great affection for a man who will be missed within his circle of family and friends.
At the other end of the bushytail is news of the arrest, reported in Idaho media, of "Earl the Squirrel," a fugitive from Oregon. Unlike the Tennessee "Squirrel," Earl Leslie Wayland Jr. is very much alive and was wanted on felony warrants for what is described as a "one man crime spree" that included burglary and battery. It is doubtful that this "Squirrel" monicker was given by an adoring public, circle of friends or even law-enforcement authorities.
Clearly, squirreldom is in the eyes of the beholder, depending on how you feel about rodentia and the derivatives thereof. I vote tonight for Cardwell's variety of the species, who tugs at my heartstrings, even with the little bit of information his newspaper obituary provided.
A life well lived, which was obviously true in his case, makes us all glad to be squirrels - if only for the day.