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This morning, we awoke to the sad news that our beloved guinea pig, Zap, had gone on to his eternal reward.  Okay, maybe “beloved” is an exaggeration.  “Our admired guinea pig?”  No, that’s a bit much too.  “Our usually-forgotten-and occasionally-held guinea pig, Zap.”  That sounds about right.  Maybe that’s what I’ll put on his little gravestone.

I don’t mean to be insensitive.  I really don’t.  The Goose is sad (a little), so I’m sad for her.  She and Mr. E are burying Zap now.  I chose not to attend the services.

I guess the reason for my lack of upset is because of how the last year has gone with these animals.  My kids liked them for about 2 months.  Then, the fighting began.  Common phrases around our house have been, “I fed them last time,” “It’s your turn to clean out the cage,” and the all-popular, “You have to give them water or they’ll just die of thirst.”  I have been wishing for them (the rodents, not the kids…okay, usually the rodents) to go away for quite a while now.  While I didn’t mean to wish death on the poor little creature, I did, in essence, get what I wished for.

I never bonded with these guinea pigs.  I know what you’re thinking; you can’t bond with rodents.  Well, actually you can.  We had two other guinea pigs several years ago. (I did this to myself not once, but twice…)  Their names were Lucy and Speedy.  For whatever reason, I liked them.  I used to talk to them and feed them every day.  I even practiced attachment parenting and carried them around in a sling sometimes. (I don’t want to talk about it.  I have gotten medical help since then.)  Lucy and Speedy brought me joy, and I loved their little noises.  That was when we lived in a 2000 square foot house, and their little noises were across the house.  Now that we are in a 900 square foot trailer and my kids are taking up twice as much space as they were then, this set of guinea pigs, Lucy II and Zap, have just taken up precious space.  They are loud and annoying, and, they fling poo; lots of poo.

I think that is part of the reason I never bonded with these two critters.  They take up my space, breathe my air, drown out the TV with their noises and defile my floor.  The other reason I haven’t felt all warm and fuzzy about these two is because of a few run-ins I’ve had with rodents since owning the first guinea pigs.

One encounter happened about 7 years ago when we were still living in our house.  Our pseudo-child, Jeanie, a teenager who we “adopted” as our own, was staying with us.  The kids had gone to bed, and Jeanie, Mr. E and I were in the family room watching TV.  Then, we heard something in the chimney.  It was a scratching sound, and it was definitely a mammal.  Mr. Everything, being brave as he is, said he would look and see what it was.  We tried to talk him out of it, but he said he had to get it out.  I said he could just let it die there, but he said then it would stink.  So, I agreed with Mr. E’s plan to look and see what it was.  Jeanie stood nearby, ready to run, and I stood behind her, holding her as a human shield. 

Mr. E opened the flue, and we heard something scurrying down the chimney toward the family room.  I squinted my eyes and held my breath as I waited to see what was about to run into my house.  I pictured a cat or a mountain lion with as much noise as this thing was making.  Out came a bushy tailed rat (also known as a squirrel).  Jeanie and I screamed and ran to my bedroom.  We closed and locked the door.  I’m not sure why we locked the door.  It just seemed like a good idea at the time. 

There was a lot of banging and movement in the family room, and then everything got quiet.  Mr. Everything finally calmly and quietly said, “Can someone please help me?”  I said no.  He said, “Seriously.  I need help.  He’s standing on the desk.  Can you bring me a towel?”  I asked what the towel was for, and he said he was going to catch the squirrel in the towel.  I said he wasn’t using one of my towels to catch a rodent.  He asked if I would rather let the squirrel go back to the Goose’s room and climb in bed with her.  I said I would get a towel. 

I handed Jeanie a towel and told her to take it to him.  She said she wasn’t going out there.  I talked her into opening the door and just handing it out.  I said, “You can close the door right back.  Be brave.”  So, Jeanie opened the door to hand the towel out to Mr. E.  As the door opened, I shoved her out and closed and locked the door as I said, “Every girl for herself.”  She didn’t find this nearly as funny as I did.

After much pounding on the door and begging me to open it, Jeanie finally gave up and accepted her fate as Mr. Everything’s assistant animal wrangler.  She did whisper through the door to me that she would never speak to me again.  I was too busy laughing to answer her.  Then, I heard Jeanie bravely say, “Okay.  Let’s get this thing outta here.”

I heard Mr. E devising a plan.  It involved a few flat cardboard boxes and an old mattress.  He said they were going to make a pathway to the front door and the squirrel would follow the path and run out.  After much moving of things, I heard him say, “Go,” and I heard Jeanie and Mr. E start stomping their feet to get the squirrel to run.

Now, I’m not sure what happened after that, but in my mind, Mr. Everything had a squirrel on his back, just like Clark W. Griswald in “Christmas Vacation.”  I don’t think it really happened that way, but doesn’t that sound funnier?

After several minutes of, “There he goes!” “Get him!” and, “Hurry up.  He’s over here!”  the room grew quiet.  I waited for about 10 minutes and decided to be brave and look out.  When I did, I found Mr. Everything and Jeanie on the couch, watching TV.  I asked if the rodent was gone, and they said he was.  I asked why they didn’t come get me, and Jeanie, with a smile on her face, looked at me and said, “Every girl for herself.”

Come back tomorrow, and I’ll tell you about my other run-ins.  -Al



 


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