Thursday, January 10, 2008

Hazards of spending too much time on the adult playground

There are times when the disparities between my childhood and that of my Wife's, make story time for the girls a surprisingly twisted bedtime ritual.

While I spent countless hours learning the intricacies of visual storytelling in 22 and 46 minute increments (no wonder Gilligan never got off the island...he only had 22 minutes to do so each week!), Wifey was out in the boondocks, catching crawdads with bits of bacon on a string and painting her initials on their backs with nail polish.

While my friends and I were traversing the outlying communities from the safety(?) of the RTD busline, Wifey and her brother were taking the canoe out exploring the hidden coves of Lake Eufaula.

While I was reading every book my Mom would bring home from the library that had a fantasy theme to it and a dragon, elf, or other mysterious figure on the cover, Wifey was plinking on her guitar and writing sorrowful songs of youthful angst and wistful preteen wisdom.

So naturally, my bedtime stories usually involve a fantastical array of creatures of various shapes, types, and forms (unicorns and pegasus ponies are a favorite), a journey of epic scale in search for magical items of great power ("...without the cylindrical power cells, the odd-shaped radiowave device wouldn't work"), and plot lines that any fan of 70's American television would vaguely recognize ("Here's a story, of a lovely dragon lady, who was busy with 3 little dragon ladies of her own...")

The other night I overhead my lovely Wife telling our girls the tale of "Gibble the Hamster.""When your Mama was little, I had a hamster that I named Gibble. I loved Gibble and saved up enough money to get him a deluxe four room Habitrail setup.

He was the only pet I ever owned, since our dog was a family dog, and really belonged to my Dad, since he used her for hunting.

One day, we were going to leave for a week long stay at the lake house, so I gave Gibble plenty of food and filled up his water bottle to the top, thinking that it would get him through the week we were gone.

When we got back, I found Gibble having a seizure on the floor of the feeding room in his Habitrail condo.

When I reached in to pick him up to see what was wrong, he instinctively bit me so hard that my defensive impulses took over and I flicked my hand away, sending the still convulsing Gibble across the room, smashing into a wall, and hitting the floor with a loud thud.

Moments later, he died.

After a tearful burial in the backyard, further investigation of Gibble's now vacant habitat revealed that in my rush to get out the door and into the lake-bound Travelall, I failed to properly insert the water bottle into the steel retaining sleeve, thus placing the nipple that was to provide Gibble with the life preserving liquid, ever so slightly out of his reach.

I had killed my beloved Gibble."
Our 8-year olds response after hearing this tale of pet hamster woe was, "Cool, can we go dig him up and see what his skeleton looks like?"

Our 4-year old simple frowned, shook her head and said, ""Not a story like that Mama."


Anonymous said...

LOL. My wife has a somewhat similar story about her childhood hamster, although hers included tales of tumorous growths and the thing eating its offspring. My childhood hamster wedged himself beneath his water bottle and froze to death. I need to make a mental note not to get my children hamsters. I have yet to hear of anyone who has had a hamster die a peaceful death.

Anonymous said...

Gerbils are much lower maintenance and much healthier than hamsters. Less prone to bite, too ... and much more fun. Juliet, my gerbil, scampers around her cage and has staring contests with my collie mix at all hours of the day and night. (Gerbils are neither nocturnal or diurnal; rather, their sleeping habits are more like puppies -- up for an hour, down for an hour, repeat ad nauseum.)

Gertrude, the office hamster that I bought as a Christmas gift for my staff, sleeps most of the time. If we wake her up, she gives us a disgusted squint and then bares her teeth at us. Hamsters, apparently, are nocturnal, and they don't appreciate having their sleep disrupted by the paparazzi.