Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hamster Madness

Have you noticed a lot of hamsters popping up on blogs these days?

Well, have you?

For some reason every third or fourth blog post I read has a hamster reference in it.

Perhaps these seemingly nonthreatening furry creatures are making good on their unspoken threat to take over all mankind.

Or perhaps it is the universe's way of gradually introducing a topic that I have tried to block out for many years.

If you want a well-written, heart-warming story of a girl and her hamster, go to Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. If you want a gritty tale that takes a hard-hitting look at the seamy underbelly of hamster life--a story that involves deception, disfigurement, discrimination, and a disproportionate number of disturbing descriptive details, stick around.

(Oh! I see a number of you DID stick around to hear the alarming details of this hamster tale. I am not sure what that says about my readership.... However! we go on with our story which starts with this very cute picture of Evan and his hamster as a way to lull you a false sense of happiness and bliss.)

A Boy and his Hamster

When our boys were young they wanted hamsters and so naturally we read up on the subject, then went out and got two female hamsters. Oh yes, said the man at the pet store. They are two female hamsters. One was a beautiful with black and white markings. She was generally sweet, got along well with us, had a lovely personality and kept her area in the cage meticulously clean.

The other one was a small dark golden hamster with smokey markings on its side. It was quiet and generally nice at first. However, as soon as it got settled in the cage, it seemed to change. It wanted to sleep most of the time, didn't want to come out and play, and would bite us for no apparent reason. It preferred to be alone in its sloppy little hole in the corner of the cage. It seemed to grow fatter and grumpier in an amazingly short amount of time.

(Is reading the above description causing you to have flashbacks of your first year of marriage/significant relationship? Could you substitute the name of your first boyfriend and have it ring true? Have you figured out this was a MALE hamster?)

One morning we came out to find the fat golden hamster up and moving, but something was terribly wrong. (Brace yourselves, tender readers!) It seems that the hamster's eye had blown out, and was sitting there in his eye socket like a taut, greasy bubble. He waddled over and climbed upon his wheel that was dangerously close to the wall of the cage/aquarium and...well, before we could stop him, he got going on the wheel which, with the shifting of his weight had tilted just enough.... SPLAT!

Alas, the remnants of his eye were splattered on the glass wall.

It was traumatic for all concerned.

Over time, his eye socket sank into his head, and the hole sort of sealed up, but this left the already-less-than-attractive hamster even more unappealing.

Then, one night the boys and I came home and found HOB in the bathroom in the middle of hamster transfer. It seems the miracle of birth had occurred (considering we still thought we had two female hamsters, it really WAS a miracle!) and fast-thinking HOB had gotten Daddy Hamster out of the cage before he could kill his young. The mother hamster and five baby hamsters remained in the old, cruddy, aquarium cage with the eye-goo still on the side.

However, there sat the deformed, unattractive, disagreeable male hamster in his brand new, very fancy, obviously expensive, ornate blue plastic cage complete with elaborate Habitrail, built-in designer wheel, and luxury artist's loft.

I grilled HOB about the situation. Why not put the mother and five babies in the new apartment? Why keep her in the tenement? "What?" said HOB. "I bought this just for him. Look! I think he really likes it already."

I turned from the bedraggled mother and her five demanding babies and bent down to see the male hamster in his sleek, modern, bachelor's pad. He looked back at me with his one good eye and gave me a smug look. All he needed to complete the picture was an Eames chair, a cigarette and a martini glass. Throw in some etchings and perhaps a beaded curtain and he'd be set for entertaining.

Soon after, we decided not to take any chances. We separated all the hamsters and placed them in different cages (most purchased at Goodwill).

That's right: six cages, six squeaky wheels.

This way lies madness.

We live in a warm climate, so we finally stacked the cages on a table in the garage and shut the door at night. The boys' bedrooms were far enough away, so they were not bothered by the squeaking but HOB and I could still hear it. Hear it. Hear it. Throughout the night. Endlessly.

Because all the other cages were made of wire and his was made of plastic and had the Habitrail, guess who got to be at the top of the pyramid of cages? Oh yes, One-Eyed Daddy got the Penthouse Suite. This put him at exactly eye-level with me when I went out to the garage to get things from the shelf near his cage. I swear he stood there, leaning up against the glass, with his one eye staring right at me. When I looked at him, he'd quickly avert his eye and nonchalantly pretend to be overlooking the scenery below, enjoying the unobstructed, tinted view, seemingly unaware of the toiling, oppressed masses of his own offspring just beneath him.

(This is what those toiling masses did to my bike seat when I leaned it up against the cages one day.)

The average lifespan of an average hamster is two to three years. The average life span of a carefree, one-eyed, living-in-luxury bachelor hamster is MUCH longer. Mama died, some of the babies died, but One-Eyed Daddy remained, living in his azure oasis, with regular maid service and personal chef, until finally, he took that journey through the Ultimate Habitrail which we must all travel by ourselves some day.

It's been years since we've had hamsters. It was a phase of our lives I do not wish to repeat. In fact, I have blocked out most of the memories associated with the care and feeding of the tiny rodents.

And yet, some nights, when I least expect it, I awake to the slight aroma of pine chips and hear the faint spinning of a plastic wheel,




into the dark, unending night.


Ann said...

I remember those stupid wheels and how annoying they were when you were trying to sleep. Luckily my hamster days are long gone.

Anonymous said...

Ahh! That was a great read Betty! One eyed Daddy Hamster made for quite an interesting central character! Thank You so much for thoroughly entertaining me, though, i see the horrible scar your bike seat still bears.

Lidian said...

Never have I read a hamster post like yours! That is - man, I am alternating between guffawing and groaning in sympathy...We had a class hamster come and visit for a weekend - much to the excitement of the cats - and all it did was pee on a blanket and I'd had Enough. You are heroic. And hilarious, too :)

Joe Cap said...

That was a great story, told with expert flair! This is why I don't care to have creatures with little brains and big teeth. This is why I don't trust and will never trust rabbits...they may be cute, but give them some perceived threat, and they can put those daggers right through your hand.

Writing Without Periods! said...

Hampsters creep me out. And I hate those weeks and all that junk in their cages.
Love pictures of them though.

Brian (not the cat) said...

I'm so glad that in our divided family, the hamster years were in Laura's domain. I remember going to her house and seeing these unbelievable stretches of plastic tunnels everywhere and what must have been a few dozen little critters scurrying through them.

My Mind's Eye said...

Trula Delight....that story makes me very glad I had a daughter and not a son. She never asked for a hamster...just a puppy and let me tell you Toto the mighty mini 10 lb Dachshund thought he was a Great Dane!!! Maybe hamsters would have been less trouble. HA!! I said I'd rather potty train 10 children than one Doxie!!!
Esmarillda and Dip-C

Marlene said...

You're entertaining as hell.

We once had hamsters, too. (One at a time. Whatever possessed me to get another after the first one???)

Hamster #2 was an escape artist. Escaped from his habitrail not once, but twice.....with four cats in the house. The second time he was gone for two days. Don't know how he survived but he did. Found him curled up inside the kids' dollhouse... on the penthouse floor, no less.

Cheeseboy said...

Ha Ha! Great hamster post.

Every person I have ever known that owns hamsters, their entire house smells like uriny sawdust. Not exactly my first choice of Lysol scents.

Ms. A said...

Absolutely hysterical!!!

Michelle @ Delicate Construction said...

Wow, what a great story! I love coming to your blog, you always have something interesting to read.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a son. I must not need a hamster. I'll pulling out the zhu zhu pets. And I don't even like them.

Thanks for this story.

Beth Zimmerman said...

Oh My! You almost lost me with the eye-episode but I hung in there. Glad you have put your hamster days behind you!

One Photo said...

We don't have any pets - I am dreading the day when my now 3 year old daughter figures out that other folks to and asks for one - which given her obsession with the furry toy versions I suspect will be a cat!

Great post - I loved every minute of it!

Vodka Logic said...

omg what a great story.. who'd a thought the hamster would live after its eye popped out..yuck.

I had one hamster after that i stuck to gerbils. my kids had guinea pigs..not bad little animals.

Amber Page Writes said...

I guess just like cranky old men, cranky old hamsters don't know when to give up the ghost...

Dang hamsters. said...

Excuse me while I go re-read Ally's hamster story. Boy, Evan was a cute kid.
(I don't do well with eyes popping out of their sockets. Could you tell?) xoRobyn

Lindsey said...

I wasn't lucky enough to have a hamster when I was growing up. But reading your post makes me realize I was probably lucky to NOT have one!!

Julie said... just made my sicky body shake with laughter. Hilarious. Boy, do I have some hamster tales, too! So glad I found your blog! Thanks for the comments!! I'm now stalking...I mean following you!

DrSoosie said...

I never really like hamsters...I just see them as rodents! I guess they are cute in some sort of way that escapes me. I will stick with my doggies. Getting off topic..I love you library choices. I have read them all!!! You have good taste in books!

Harsha said...

Love to read that story.

Powdered Toast Man said...

best damn hamster story I ever heard. Sounds like ol' one eye had some pretty nice digs. You said he had an artist's loft. Did he paint or sculpt at all?

Where can I find a giant wheel for my apartment?

thanks for joining 'just the cheese'

Sandra said...

No freaking way!!! It ate your bike seat??? Nope... no hamsters for us!!!

Ren- Lady Of The Arts said...

Great story! We do not have hamsters but turtle, hermit crabs and a dog-I wish we had no pets-

Anything Fits A Naked Man said...

Oh, Betty! I can't tell you how much I enjoy your fun writing! I laughed all the way through this (except for the whole "eye exploding" part! Yikes!)!!

Thanks so much for this entertaining post!

Shan said...

Thanks for this... I giggled through the whole thing.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh, you are a riot.

I hate hamsters too. I wanted one SO BADLY when I was a kid, and when my friend went on vacation and asked me to care for hers, I was overjoyed. Except that I didn't sleep for about two weeks because of his damned wheel, and to this day, the smell of hamster cage makes me want to ralph.

One night, he was on his wheel for awhile, but then the sounds stopped. Being concerned, I turned on my bedside lamp and HE WAS STARING AT ME! I was so creeped out.

Eek. I don't know how you guys managed taking care of seven hamsters!

essbesee said...

hilarious and informative. won't be getting my sons a hamster now. and how exactly does a hamster "blow an eye out?" or do I want to know?

Copyboy said...

That's not a Hamster tale, that's a hamster epic! Gross, funny and sad. Edges out the rat story for sure. haha

Bonnie said...

Oh the spinning! hahahaha
Wonderful post! :)

Anonymous said...

BB I love this post. I screwed up somewhere so glad you commented on my blog which prompted me to check. You were not coming up on my daily read. Has been remedied. We had mice once. One kept getting away. We would lure him back with cocoa puffs.

Jenny said...

What a great read! Gee, I haven't notice the references to Hamsters. I keep seeing stuff about chickens. And hummingbirds. Oh wait...I just read about the hummingbirds here!

Have a great Sunday.

Tracie said...

You had that many hamster wheels going at your house? We have one and it is banished to the basement - far away from my bedroom.

PS Our hamster escaped sometime last night. He knawed away the part of his cage and scrambled to freedom. Part of me hopes he never returns. The part that doesn't want to smell a dead hamster in the walls hopes he returns quickly.

Unknown said...

This exactly why I just caved and bought my daughter a Zhu Zhu pet for ten bucks. (A battery operated hamster) that you can buy habitats, slides, pools, cars, condos, and high rise apartments for.

She's only got the hamster so far, but I figure if I get suckered into buying a few accessories for 30.00 or so, I'm still coming out ahead.

I give this infatuation about 6 months and then we're free and clear. Woo Hoo!

Rainey said...

That is traumatic, but oh so hilarious.

Maybe those wheels just need a good dose of WD-40?

Mia said...

This is the first hamster post I've ever read.

Heidi said...

LOL! Oh the memories! I have many of the hamsters we owned as kids. We had something just as tragic happen. My mom kneeled down next to the cage and didnt know the babies went through the wires cage and she kneeled right down on top of them! She was walking around with baby hamster guts all over her nylons! YIKES! Not something a any child should experience!

{Just wanted to stop by and thank you for becoming a follower :) Not sure how you found my little boys blog, but thanks.}