JULY 6, 2009 7:47PM

Open Chat: Hide your nuts!

Rate: 39 Flag

Open Chat No. 3: The Squirrel. 5 minutes. A glimpse at the man (peeking, barely) out from behind those bright eyes and bushy, um, tail. And yes, that's a lovely black statue of a squirrel, recently purchased for the man himself by, as he calls her on the blog, the "Wife-asaurus." Full transcript follows. 


Also, I asked The Squirrel for a list of  his favorite posts on his blog. They are:

things i know but wish i didn't

please put your teeth back in

hey just so you know it is already too late

twothirty in the morning


how not-rich i am


What can you tell us about the restaurant? What can you reveal?

It's on the north side.

Of Chicago.

Yes, of Chicago. It is officially within the city limits of Chicago. It is not as not as bad as I make it out to be. That's another big thing right there. We actually have far more satisfied customers than I make it out to be. It's just that that's not very interesting.

Why did you choose the squirrel?

It was the only picture that I had, actually, except for the old man in the upper left of the banner --

And just to be clear, that's not you either.

No, that's not me either. That's a drunk from "EastEnders," which is a BBC soap opera. He's kind of the comic-relief town drunk. And he's a funny guy. So I had two pictures. And I used the squirrel. As far as why I called myself the Squirrel, I don't really know. I never really thought it would become a thing because I never thought that anyone would ever actually read. So I kind of thought it was a non-issue considering it would only be me and mom reading.

What does your mom think of the blog?

She knows about it. And sometimes she has some things to say. She's never been entirely critical. I'm not sure how she feels about some of the dad stuff.  I got her permission to put my versions of the phone conversations on the blog. And I certainly would never reveal anything that she wouldn't want revealed. But in terms of the dad stuff, I don’t know how she feels about that, and the fact that I don't might mean she's still coming to terms with some of it.

If the [restaurant] staff knew about the squirrel, how would they react?

It would be horrible. That would be the day I pack it up and go somewhere else. They would two things, they would either come at me with endless, endless, endless ideas of what I should write about. Alan -- that's another thing that I should mention about the restaurant -- Alan is not that bad.  But he is quite boring. And he would just give me a hundred ideas a day. And it would just be a nightmare. Or, they would start watching their behavior in front of me, which sort of neuters the blog.

[Lightning Round.] What would your last meal be?


Just regular burger? Cheese? Fries?

Burger with fries. And mozzarella.

Saturn Smith or Mortimer Hayden Smith?

Ooooh. That's tough. Can I go Saturmer Hayden Smith? Or Mortimer Saturn Smith?

I think we all heard Saturn first  -- not sure what Mortimer's going to think about that.

If you could be anyone else, who would you be?

In the world?


Barack Obama.

What would you say to Barack Obama if you had the chance?

Ooooh. Boy, I don't know. I met the governor once – Blagojevich –  and I froze. So I can't even imagine. I'm almost positive I would pass out or faint.

Single worst thing you've ever served?

Oooooh my god! How much time do you have?

We consistently send out bowls of pasta that should not be served. There was one that I knew was going to come back as I saw it walk past me.  Like, there's no way that person is going to even take a bite out of that thing. It was an oil thing, and like the whole bottom of the bowl was oil, and you could see it like sloshing around as it was walking past. It was horrible! And I knew it was coming back. That was, like, two years ago, and I've never forgotten that bowl of pasta.

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This video feature is such a wonderful new element on OS. And this one has the intrigue of the witness-protection program. Thank you!

Btw, now that we know the restaurant isn't that bad, is squirrel Charlie Trotter? ;)
Thanks Kerry. I enjoy these.
I am soooooooooooooooooooooo disappointed. Squirrel sounds just like a regular guy. Sigh.
terrific...I was hoping that the answer to the last question was going to be pemmican...squirrel pemmican...ah well.

Great job Kerry!
This was another good interview Kerry, thanks. I must say I had wondered about the Squirrel, now I still wonder, but about different things!
Great interview! Kerry, I am loving these! I'm in Chicago at least once a month, please point me in the right direction... North isn't gonna cut it! Fun to meet The Squirrel! He is absolutely one of my favs here on OS!
Not even anywhere near first. Squirrel will make me pay for this, I'm sure. GREAT interview!
Awwwwww! I loved The Squirrel before...now I LURVE him!

Squirrel, baby, someday. Someday.
Huh - looks just like I thought he would. Only with half a face.

Great interview - and I'm digging the Lightning Round special fx.
Lovely to finally meet him. Thanks!
Kerry, I had just posted over the weekend posing the question as to whether there would be more Open Chats or not. I had no idea this interview was in the pipeline and I enjoyed finding out more about The Squirrel and how he started his blog here on OS, etc. It seems that I was totally wrong when I posted recently that he is the owner of The Orange Squirrel Restaurant in Bloomfield, NJ.
I love these interviews!
I hope we'll get to see many more.

I really appreciate this one because the squirrel is someone we can't meet, no matter how far we travel! It's like a meet-up!


(thumbified with enthusiasm!)

Squirrel!! I always hear the Regular Guy from XRT's voice in my head when I read your posts. I will have to adjust now. :-D These interviews are so much fun- I totally geek out whenever I see one posted.
Aha! Dammit, I've got you now, furry dude!!!

You're Carl Spackler, dammit!! I'd know that voice anywhere!!!!

OK, so maybe it isn't Carl. But I wanted to know - how come the squirrel statue doesn't have any nuts?

Thumbed. Loved this one. If ever I'm in Chicago, I'm going to every damn restaurant on the North Side until I hear that voice. I promise that, when I find said establishment and hear that voice, I will go up to the owner of it and say one word (which will not be misconstrued by any other patrons or staff):

I loved hearing the voice behind the words.
Love your voice, squirrel--it's got great resonance.
Loved this. But squirrel, I beg to differ...Barack Obama would be the one passing out if he ever got to meet *you*. I mean, the guy is cool, but how many talking squirrels are there? Not something he sees every day on the White House lawn. At least, I hope not.
Gotta love the squirrel. That's just the rule, especially after this interview.
What a Renaissance man, err... animal, thing you are Squirrel. The ads on this page run the gamut from Scientology to Nuts & Volts Magazine to Smithsonian Magazine.
This was great fun! Thanks, Kerry! And, Squirrel--you ARE a tall, lanky guy, just like you've said so often. I'm glad to have an actual voice to hear in my head when I read your posts now. All the time before I was hearing *other* voices.........is this the beginning of a senile problem, ya think?? Rated, Kerry (as though you need that!). D
this is a great feature, kerry, and i just have to say having the transcript is great, too, because my speakers are on the frtiz and i wouldn't have been able to hear it with just the video option.

the squirrel is a real mensch, too.
Thank you Kerry for this interview. We all got to know just a little bit better the man behind the squirrel...a writer who continues to endear so many of us with his stories of the heart masked beneath the gritty and grimy restaurant in the bowels of Chicago. And thank you squirrel...your good nature was more than evident. Thanks for taking us on your personal journey and it's nice to put a 3 day unshaven partial face with the words of the squirrel.
Another great interview!
The interviews are a lot of fun. He sounds like a regular squirrel on the street.
Way cool! Nice work, squirrel, and Kerry. Except now I have a really untasty vision of this oil-sopping pasta. hee hee.
Most excellent! Thanks Kerry, I really enjoy these. So is this Squirrel guy a blogger on OS?
Not quite Da Regular Guy, eh? Now I know *not* to order pasta when I discover Squirrel's place.
Everyone wants to meet the squirrel now!

I'm just a REG'lar Guy, on Ninety-Tree, XRT. I miss that guy.
Thanks for this, Kerry. How wonderful to have a chance to hear The Squirrel talk (although I didn't expect him to sound so normal.) I also enjoyed seeing which blogs were Squirrel's favorites. So many times, the ones we like best as writers aren't the ones that others like, but in Squirrel's case, he's picked winners all around.
Do I detect a hint of :pride: ? It must be fatherhood. Watch out for expanding horizons.
I love this! Thanks. And the statue, very interesting. ;)
Great, Kerry. Loved the voice of the Squirrel, now one put to the great words he fashions into fine stories of personal flavor. He sounds far more mature and put together than I would have guessed. His scruffy graying face really through me for a curve. He could be my husband! Nice job with the elusive Squirrel, Kerry. Keep these coming!
This was just a great interview! So entertaining! Rated