OPINION COLUMNS

Interview with the groundhog

By Bob Buckel | Published Saturday, February 8, 2014

”Sure, I can talk. Once all the hooplah is over, I’ve got tons of time. Oh, wait – what’s that, Shirley? Ah … sorry, but I do have a pedicure at 3. But it’s no problem.”

You get pedicures?

“Sure – every week, all four paws! You wouldn’t believe the wear and tear.”

Bob Buckel

Bob Buckel

Isn’t that expensive?

“What do I care? I’m a groundhog! Besides, I’m pretty sure it’s a tax writeoff for the groomer.”

So, what else is there that we don’t know about the famous groundhog?

“Well, let’s make it clear up front I’m not that goofball from Pennsylvania. I’m Chuck, the New York City groundhog. I live in the Staten Island Zoo, and I don’t take nothin’ from nobody.”

Uh, OK. Glad to have that out of the way.

“You know, five years ago I took a bite outta Mayor Bloomberg.”

I think I read about that.

“He got a little too handsy, if you know what I mean. Just because you can run the Big Apple doesn’t mean you can hold a groundhog. These teeth aren’t just for looks, you know – they’re lethal weapons.”

Of course.

“And this year, if you saw the Times you know I escaped from the new guy – de Blasio or something like that. I mean, the guy doesn’t even know how to eat a slice of pizza – what’s he know about holding a groundhog? He grabs me like that again, they’ll be callin’ him ‘One-Thumb de Blasio’ – you know what I mean?”

I think I do.

“Badda-bing, badda-boom! Don’t grope the groundhog! What else you got?”

Uh, well, let’s see. We don’t really have groundhogs down here in Texas …

“No. We don’t live in Texas. Too hot in the summer, too many predators, no respect.”

Respect?

“That’s right. You people keep getting us mixed up with prairie dogs.”

Well, aren’t you in the same family?

“Yeah. We’re family, all of us ground-dwelling rodents. And goodness knows, I would never go against the family. But we’re at the top of that ladder, and they’re at the bottom, the little morons. Most of them can’t even read, much less predict weather.”

You – you can read?

“Hey! I didn’t get this vocabulary watching ‘Duck Dynasty.’ Besides, if I couldn’t read, how could I access my weather app?”

You have a smart phone?

“A tablet – easier to operate, with the claws and all. How else am I going to give weather reports?”

I just …

“Do you honestly believe that saw-my-shadow business? Puh-leez! What does that have to do with … Sheesh, you humans are so primitive.”

I must say, I didn’t expect this kind of attitude from a groundhog.

“I know, I know. You bought into the stereotype. We’re all cute and cuddly, right? We just pop up now and then and chew stuff, real nervous-like. Anybody makes a move, we dive back in the hole, right?”

Uh, I guess.

“Well get the word out – Chuckie ain’t like that. I’m kickin’ butt and takin’ names. Just ask Bloomberg. Ask de Blasio. Don’t you EVER talk about me!”

I didn’t mean to imply …

“Of course you didn’t! I’m just a little woodchuck! A whistle-pig! Furry. Good at digging. Adorable, if you’re into big front teeth.”

Hey, I’m sorry! And if it means anything, I think you’re cute as a button.

“Whoa, whoa, whoa! This is getting a little weird …”

It’s been weird. Listen, I’ve got enough for my column, so if you don’t mind I’ll just be hanging up now.

“Yo, hey, man, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to unload on you. I’m always grouchy for a few days after they interrupt my hibernation for that goofy shadow thing.”

No problem. So really, you don’t go by your shadow?

“C’mon. If I see my shadow, you know what that means? It means the freakin’ sun is out. That’s ALL it means. Want to predict winter? Read ‘The Farmer’s Almanac.’ That’s what I do.”

Thanks for the advice. Anything else?

“Eat more fiber. Get your sleep. Don’t do drugs. Stay in school. And don’t drive like my cousin Phil in that stupid Bill Murray movie.”

Your … ? Never mind.

Bob Buckel is editorial director of the Messenger.

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