Existential Tales from Tree City
Old Mrs. Squirrel was retired, a widow of many years. To pass the time, she attended her local art walk each month. Mostly she sought out places that had free cheese and wine. She’d stuff her cheeks throughout the evening and then scurry home, hiding her bounty in secret spots around the apartment.
One night she was feigning interest in yet another themed group show at a gallery that was notoriously generous with the hors d’oeuvres. She was about to stuff a napkin full of curried walnuts into her cheeks when the owner of the gallery approached. She was so embarrassed that before she knew it she’d bought a tiny, overpriced abstract drawing on vellum.
The cold, dark rains came and art walk ended for the season. Old Mrs. Squirrel huddled in her apartment, nibbling on her stores of food and staring at the drawing. It seemed to her a frivolous thing, an expensive bit of nonsense that cost a whole month’s pension. But she couldn’t take her eyes off it.
Groundhog was active on several online dating sites. He had a thing for lemurs, but they never returned his messages. A friend finally explained to him that the scarcity of lemurs in the dating pool made them wary of objectification. One day, Groundhog got a “poke” from an attractive-enough spider monkey. What the hell, he thought, close enough. They dated for five years.
Elephant’s friend Orangutan was one of those animals who always finished other animals’ sentences. Elephant couldn’t figure it out. Does that ape think he’s psychic? Is he just in a hurry? It was annoying, but Elephant figured Orangutan was a decent enough guy who always bought the drinks when they went out because he had a good job in sales.
One night at the bar Elephant decided to broach the subject.
“Orangutan, you know how sometimes you tend to complete—“
“Complete your sentences?”
“Yeah. What’s up with—“
“What’s up with that?”
“You should work on not—“
“Work on not doing that?”
In that moment, Elephant silently resolved to stop hanging out with Orangutan. And that’s what he did. By the time Orangutan got married a year later, Elephant had so distanced himself that he didn’t even receive a wedding invite. He was doubly relieved when he later heard that it was one of those expensive destination weddings and the reception was dry because the bride’s family was religious with a history of alcoholism.