Once, when I was about 10 years old, at my great-grandfather’s urging, I hand-fed a squirrel that lived in a tree in his yard.
He had been feeding it caramel corn, and the squirrel was friendly and liked it.
So I tried it: I held one between thumb and forefinger, and I crouched down and offered it to the squirrel.
The squirrel bit my thumb and I screamed.
Then we went on with our day, my great-grandparents and my grandmom and my little sister and me. We were driving around looking at old towns in south Jersey. At some point an hour or so later — I think as we were about to pull into a cemetery where some ancestors rested — I thought to ask if I could have gotten rabies.
The adults said, “Maybe?”
We went back to going about our day on the road, stylin’ in a green Ford Gran Torino. In the summer.
This was in the ’70s. I would not trade growing up in the ’70s for anything.
PS My little sister still teases me about the screaming. I was bitten by a wild animal! But, still, a squirrel. I had two teeth marks at the end of my thumb for days.