A guardian squirrel?
Sure, why not?
My ideas for plays or scenes come from everywhere, and I suspect it’s the same for lots of writers. A random thought that pops into my head, something someone says, a childhood memory long forgotten that decides to make an appearance for some odd reason, and thousands of other sources.
But where would the idea of a guardian squirrel (who’s British, by the way) come from? It had its genesis in a chance encounter with a squirrel. I was outside in my front yard when a squirrel jumped from one of our trees, missed a branch, and landed near me. He was fine but didn’t run off. He stared at me, and I stared at him. He was daring me to laugh. I didn’t. I was admiring his coolness. And that’s when it hit me: Having a guardian squirrel would be awesome – but how could I build a scene around it?
I tossed ideas around, and then one day, I came across a picture of myself in middle school: the definition of awkward. I remembered how weird I was around the girls I liked. I tried to be cool but was so nervous that everything I said came out really dumb. If only I’d had a guardian. A guardian squirrel. Who was British.
And thus, Mumford E. Squirrel in “How to Ask a Girl Out” was born. It basically wrote itself, and as mentioned in last week’s post, it became my wife’s favorite thing I’ve written. And now it is part of a scene collection, Tied Up, available here at Big Dog Publishing.
The snippet below occurs at a park, after Kyle, our protagonist, has met Mumford, his guardian squirrel, and learned that he wants to help Kyle talk to Sally, a task at which Kyle has thus far proven inept. Kyle, however, is not too keen on this and wants to pass.
KYLE Hey, is there an opt-out for this guardian squirrel thing because I think I can do this on my own - - (Sally enters.)
MUMFORD: I guess we’ll find out because here she comes. (Kyle turns and sees Sally, looking uncomfortable.) I’ll be here when you need me.
SALLY: Hello, Kyle. (Kyle starts to panic and stares at her.)
KYLE: Um . . . um . . . um.
SALLY: Is something wrong?
KYLE: Uh . . . um . . . (Turns to Mumford.) Fine, tell me what to say.
MUMFORD Just hello, Kyle.
KYLE: (Turns to Sally. Loudly.) Just hello, Kyle. (Realizes what he said.) I mean Sally. Hello. Sally. (Sally laughs uncomfortably as Kyle looks at her nervously.)
SALLY: So . . . you wanted to talk to me.
MUMFORD: I did, in fact. (Silence. Mumford clears his throat.)
KYLE: (Still loud.) I did, in fact.
MUMFORD: You don’t have to talk so loud.
KYLE: You don’t have to talk so loud.
SALLY: (Hurt.) I’m sorry. I have a really loud voice. I’ll try to speak more . . . quietly. (Kyle looks at her. She whispers.) What did you want to talk to me about?
MUMFORD: My mum once told me . . .
KYLE: My . . . my mum once told me . . . (Sally looks at him oddly.)
MUMFORD: That if you really like someone you should tell them.
KYLE: That if you really like someone you should tell them.
SALLY: Are you saying you like me?
KYLE: (Starts to nod.) No. I mean . . . am I?
MUMFORD: Say yes.
SALLY: I know this sounds weird, but despite how odd you sometimes are around me and my in-depth knowledge of your bathroom habits, I kind of like you too. (Kyle smiles and then doesn’t know what to say.)
MUMFORD: Say . . . that’s great to hear.
KYLE: That’s great to hear.
SALLY: I’ve actually liked you for a while. (Kyle smile grows even bigger, but so does his nervousness.)
MUMFORD: You have her. Now say . . . I want you to be my one and only squirrel squeeze.
KYLE: I want you to be my one and only squirrel squeeze.
SALLY: Say what now?
KYLE: Um . . .
MUMFORD: I want to make a nest in your hair.
KYLE: I want to make a nest in your hair.
MUMFORD: Sorry, that’s what I want to do. Make a nest in her hair. It’s quite lovely.
KYLE: We need to hurry this up.
SALLY: (Hurt) I’m sorry if I’m taking you away from something more important. I thought you liked me.
MUMFORD: Quickly. Tell her that this winter you would like to hibernate with her after spending many afternoons collecting acorns and hopping on power lines. Tell her.
SALLY: You don’t like me?
MUMFORD: Just tell her.
KYLE: No, you’re being dumb.
SALLY: I’m being dumb. Me? I’m not the one who wants to make a nest in your hair!
KYLE: I wasn’t talking to you.
SALLY: You want to make a nest in someone else’s hair?
Does Kyle want to make a nest in someone else’s hair? If so, will Sally be able to look past that and this entire interaction to find true love with Kyle? Will Mumford somehow save the day?
Well, like last week with Tied Up, you’ll have to read the script to find out the rest.
Here it is. Steven's blog, where his thoughts about things are revealed. Good luck.