Thursday, July 8, 2010

34. Hamster

Hamsters are not my favorite pet. In fact, if I was naming all my favorite real or potential or even imaginary (think dolphin) pets, I don't think hamster would even make it into the Top 10. Or, let's be honest, the Top 100. Think about it. They are sort of reminiscent of rats, just maybe a little fatter. Unless you like seeing a little wheel go around for the 900th time this hour, they are not particularly entertaining. When I was about 12, my elementary school-aged little sister Oakley pestered my mom for a hamster until she finally gave in. Apparently, there is an unwritten Law that you may not just purchase ONE hamster, you must buy at least two. My mom is a smart cookie. She kindly asked the nice pet shop owner for two MALE hamsters. She wasn't gonna have no crazy baby hamsters runnin' around! The pet shop owner complied happily, never bothering to divulge the well-known fact that it is impossible for anyone (even veterinarians who have had eight years of medical school) to accurately determine the gender of a hamster. When they tell you it is a "boy", they are guessing. Likewise, they have a 50-50 chance of being right when they confirm it is a girl. So Oakley proudly carries out her new friends, Fonzie and Chachi (hey-- it WAS the 70's) in their special cage. Once we got them home, Oakley and Mom had a lovely open discussion based on trust and understanding and compromise about where to keep Fonzie and Chachi. It went something like this: Oakley: I want them to live in my bedroom. Mom: NO WAY. Oakley: Pleeeeeze? Mom: Forget it! Oakley: (whimpering) Why not? Mom: Stop that right now, or we can just return them. MOV: (trying to be helpful) I think the pet guy said they were final sale, which means th-- Mom: (cutting me off) They can live in the laundry room. Oakley: (reluctant) Okay. And live in the laundry room they did, terrorizing our very kind cleaning lady Janie when she came to our house once a month. Janie was a little bit older (read: 110 to my kid brain, probably more like 52 to the rest of the world) and I think she just forgot that we had hamsters. Every time she would show up, it was like a brand-new surprise all over again! Oh, yeah, you got hamsters! We quickly realized that Fonzie and Chachi were ACTUALLY Fonza and Chachi, and they produced a smelly litter of mini-Fonzas and Chachis. My mother was none too thrilled about THIS latest development. Oakley was pretty good about feeding them (pretty good for a 7-year-old being feeding them every other or day or so if she remembered) and pretty good about changing the shredded newspaper in the bottom of their cage (pretty good being when my mom got angry and had to remind her again). This was not going well. Somehow, we managed to give away the baby Fonzas and Chachis much to my mother's great relief. But the two original hamsters were quickly losing their appeal. For one thing, they immediately tried to scratch you or bite you if you tried to take them out of their cage to hold them and pet them. Due to thousands of years of rejection ingrained in their DNA, they were not used to open affection from humans. They were noisy. They were smelly. Did I mention the resemblance to rats? One day, Oakley remembered to feed them and she walked into the laundry room. Fonza and Chachi were GONE! Oakley screamed out for my mom. We tore the house apart. The hamsters were no where to be found. Finally, after much searching and not much rescuing, it was determined that they had gone behind the washer and dryer. Several hours went by. They would not come out. The more my mom tried to scoot the machine out of the way, the further back they went. Exasperated, my mother told Oakley that they would surely come out when they were hungry and that obviously they could climb. Days passed. Fonza and Chachi were still doing alright, as evidenced by the trail of hamster poop near the washer and dryer. Did I mention that Janie refused to do the laundry now until they were captured? Finally, there were no more signs of the beloved Fonza and Chachi. They forgot about us just the way we forgot about them. It did not smell bad behind the washer and dryer (thank you, Janie!) so we determined that they must have escaped out a small hole in the wall. Or been abducted by aliens. Something. I do not miss them. I miss my imaginary dolphin. MOV

1 comment:

  1. Awww, sorry you don't like hamsters. I had hamsters as a kid. Ginger and Spice were their names. They had babies too -- lots of them. (We gave them away.) The critters I never liked were gerbils. My friend's gerbil bit her on the lip once. THE LIP! Ack!


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