Jul. 9, 2001: I don’t know if word has reached the folks at the United Nations

or the Geneva Convention or wherever they talk about these sorts of things, but my wife has declared war on squirrels. Total and unconditional, scorched-earth war. No suing for peace and that kind of stuff. We are talking major conflict here.

One of her first acts as Commander in Chief was to appoint me brigadier general. My orders are clear. Don’t touch the remote control. Don’t pick up a golf club. Don’t worry about Alan Greenspan and interest rates. Just get rid of the squirrels and get rid of them now.

In my opinion, this unpleasantness could have been avoided had the squirrels used a little discretion. They are clearly the aggressors.

There is plenty of room in our backyard for all of God’s creatures. Our policy has always been to “live and let live.” Well, that is not totally true. The Commander In Chief doesn’t include snakes in that policy. As a result, over the past couple of years I have killed two copperheads that made the mistake of trespassing into our yard. I also captured a king snake and managed to save its life by telling her that king snakes will kill and eat copperheads, which gave me strong personal motivation to see it live. King snakes also eat all kinds of other bad things – including asparagus. It almost cost me a marriage but she finally relented and allowed me to take the snake to my daughter’s house out in the country, where it slithered off in search of a rodent or another snake or some asparagus.

But the squirrels wouldn’t cooperate. All kinds of things are available on the ground for them to eat – nuts and such – but they prefer to eat out of our two bird feeders. These aren’t just bird feeders; they are “squirrel-proof” bird feeders. Obviously, the squirrels considered this discriminatory and an abridgement of their rights to feed whenever and wherever they want. Rather than bother the ACLU, which specializes in nut cases, the squirrels took matters into their own paws. They learned how to open the squirrel-proof bird feeders, chase off the birds, climb inside, gorge themselves and then dump the remaining seeds on the ground for other squirrels. Hence, the declaration of war.

I am new at this brigadier general business, and there aren’t many military experts left in Georgia who can help me since the Bush administration is closing down military bases faster than I can find them. I figured that the first thing I needed to do was arm to the teeth. So I bought a genuine Daisy Red Ryder BB gun, just like the one I had when I was a kid except this weapon has a trigger lock and a bunch of brochures with lawyer language about the dangers of BB guns. BB guns didn’t have trigger locks when I was growing up, and my dad provided all the warnings I ever needed. I doubt I ever shot my Red Ryder without first enduring the “you can put your eye out with that thing” lecture.

So far, it hasn’t been much of a war. The little critters can hear the door opening, and they scramble to safety before Red Ryder and I can get our collective act together. But if the squirrels spent as much time gathering information on their enemy as they do sneaking into the squirrel-proof bird feeders, they could relax and enjoy the hostilities. Their spies might tell them that the brigadier general is old and addled and wears trifocals. Further intelligence would confirm that by the time I get the gun sight focused, I forget what I am shooting at.

In the meantime, I am neglecting my other duties, like overseeing the state legislature’s plans to reapportion the Republicans into one congressional district in Alabama, working with Governor Roy Barnes on a new state flag design to see if we can make it any uglier than it already is, and advising Delta Air Lines on its plans to remove the aisles from all of their airplanes in order to add more seats. I really don’t have time to make war on squirrels. The world needs me.

I just hope the king snake reads this and will come back home and take care of the squirrels for me. The Commander in Chief will never have to know.

I’ll even throw in some asparagus free of charge.