The Squirrel Lady’s name is Judy. That somehow escaped my attention, though I have known her for a year: we chat in Central Park while my dog chases the squirrels she lures near. I have learned snippets about her life away from the park, but these are not details I associate with her persona.
The Squirrel Lady pushes a creaky baby carriage full of peanuts to the park every weekend to feed the squirrels. She has a gray crewcut and once entertained the idea of adopting a ferret or a hamster before reading a book of Patricia Highsmith short stories about pets that kill their owners (among which, apparently, ferrets and hamsters loom prominently).
Judy is a typist at a law firm who is recovering from carpal tunnel syndrome.
This invites contemplation of how the essence of a thing may differ from its classification. To me, I am the boring guy who arranges his life around his dog’s digestive and excretory habits . . . and, of course, TiVo. To others, I am that crazy guy who takes his dog to the park to chase squirrels every morning, or a bon vivant who is about to divide his life between two major cities, or a hell-bound pinko commie intellectual liberal faggot.
I used to wonder about the Squirrel Lady. She captured my imagination; I pictured where she lived and what she ate for dinner and what her romantic life was like.
Judy, I can take or leave.