The Sunday morning sky promised yet another sad, gray, sleet-filled day in Baltimore, Maryland. My saving grace during this seemingly endless era of quarantine has been long weekend walks, but a winter of bad weather has kept me tethered to my tiny house in the shadow of M&T Stadium. When the sun shines bright on this industrial hamlet of 19th-century industry, setting its ancient factories and columns of tarnished iron aglow, there is no place I find as beautiful. But on Sunday, like the Sunday before it and the one before that, its old bones creaked and cried as icy winds plowed through as fiercely as the B&O railroad once did. For two months I’ve been trapped inside, freezing and unvaccinated, wiping frost off my bedroom window to gaze up at my city of ghosts.
But—hark!—a miracle appears in these darkest of times to bring us joy, and remind us that soon the ice will thaw and Baltimore will be born anew! Behold and rejoice, as Pizza Squirrel has come to bless us all!
This miracle was captured on video by my husband, Matt Robicelli, who chose to spend over ten minutes watching this squirrel tear into a slice of pizza from our stoop while I remained asleep upstairs. Since I am a serious food journalist, I was able to convince Matt to grant me an exclusive interview about his unforgettable encounter with Pizza Squirrel.
Matt Robicelli: I was taking the trash out and I heard this odd crunching noise coming from the tree out front. I looked up and saw a squirrel shimmying backwards up onto a branch with a slice of pizza in his mouth. We made eye contact and he freaked out a little bit, so he got on his back legs, grabbed the bottom of the slice with his paws, and started hopping from branch to branch. When he got to the one next to the fake owl [the landlord] put up to scare squirrels away, he stopped and looked at me again, and we kinda came to an understanding.
Me: An understanding?
MR: Yeah, like, “I’m cool, you’re cool, I’m not going to steal your pizza, so it’s all good.” Then he started eating, and I started filming him. He didn’t mind.
Me: Why the hell didn’t you wake me up for this?
MR: You were sleeping! I wanted to let you rest!
Me: That’s a bullshit excuse.
MR: I was busy taking video.
Me: You could have told the kids to wake me up! You know how much I love squirrels!
MR: Yeah, I do, and I didn’t need you coming outside and trying to lure a squirrel into the house.
Me: So you admit to Pizza Squirrel conspiracy?
MR: I’m admitting to knowing damn well you were going to bring a squirrel into the house.
Me: You realize that if we had a pet Pizza Squirrel I could dress him up in funny outfits for Instagram and we could have made dozens of dollars.
MR: I’m not taking you to the ER during COVID for squirrel bites.
Me: But I have a tiny hat he could have worn!
MR: Yeah, and I remember what happened the last time you tried putting it on the cats.
Me: How long were you out there with Pizza Squirrel? Any idea where he went so I could find him? For journalism, not for petting.
MR: Okay, so number one, you are absolutely planning to pet Pizza Squirrel and I’m insulted you think you can lie to me.
Me: I’m insulted you didn’t wake me up for Pizza Squirrel, which is much worse and grounds for divorce.
MR: And two, I have no idea where he went. I watched him for like ten minutes and then it started sleeting again, so I went inside. Think he peaced out, too, because when I went out later the slice was still in the tree, but he’d eaten all the crust.
Me: Ten minutes and you let me sleep through it? Do you honestly think I’ll be able to live the rest of my life knowing I could have seen a squirrel eating a slice of pizza and I missed it?!
MR: I filmed it so you’d be able to enjoy Pizza Squirrel forever, so you’re welcome. Also, I didn’t just film it. I also wrote him a theme song, because I know you like writing theme songs for animals and thought you’d be proud of me.
Will Baltimore ever see Pizza Squirrel again? Will my marriage survive this ultimate betrayal? Will I spend this weekend throwing slices of pizza into this tree? We’ll have to wait and see. What I do know for sure is that on Monday morning, the sun was shining brightly again. I feel like a woman born anew, because Pizza Squirrel has given me a reason to keep forging ahead.