“Mom, I woke up thinking I want a hamster or a snake for Christmas. I’m going to make a chart of pros and cons to decide which one I want more, okay?”
That was how my morning started out yesterday. Of course, Georgia woke up thinking about a pet for Christmas. Our crazy dog Spot, formerly crazy cat Olive, and her sister weren’t enough. I was honestly more surprised a hamster was in the running and not something more exotic like a Gila monster, tarantula, or God knows what.
As the day went on, I was trying to figure out how a hamster would exist with Olive in the house when I remembered the best story ever.
Okay, first off, this isn’t a horror story. This is a story that begins with a kind gesture, is interrupted by a death, involves a freezer, and…a hungry grandpa. Let me explain.
Enter: Two Hamsters
“Hey, can you take care of our hamsters while we are on vacation?”
Seems like an innocent enough request, right? That’s what we thought too. Our next door neighbors, Adam and Rachel, were going on vacation and Andrew and I had been asked to watch their hamsters. Andrew wanted them in his room and to be fair, he had the room for it. Andrew’s lizards, Duke and Cynthia, were at home on a long desk that had plenty of room for two hamsters.
We heard the yelp from Andrew’s room and were already on our way. As we skidded into the room, I remember appraising the situation: Andrew’s hand was bleeding, the hamster lid was off of the cage, and a hamster was running around on the top of his desk. Pretty typical really, except for the blood.
“Andrew, what happened?” asked Mom.
“I picked up Adam’s hamster and it bit me!”
Andrew liked to think of himself as a scientist, Dr. Doolittle, and adventurer. He was probably trying to examine its teeth or something. Mom bandaged up his finger and life got back to normal…until the morning.
“MOM! MOM! Adam’s hamster is dead!”
Sometime in the night, Adam’s hamster had burrowed until a pile of wood shavings and went to the hamster tunnel in the sky. Andrew was devastated, my mom was worried, my dad (a Dr. Doolittle himself) decided that we needed to keep the hamster in case Andrew got sick. He was afraid that the hamster had a disease, gave it to Andrew, and died. So…he did what any normal dad would do: he wrapped it in tin foil and popped that little baked potato-sized roll into the freezer.
A few days later, the other hamster died. We were 0-0 in terms of keeping Adam and Rachel’s hamsters alive. They may have been better off leaving them at their house while they were gone.
Enter: The Grandpa
Several months later my mom’s dad, Grandpa Lentz to you, was staying at our house while we were on vacation. Grandpa and Grandma were moving to Fort Wayne from Paso Robles, California and Grandpa had been staying with us as they worked out logistics and he worked at his new job.
“Help yourself to the food, Harold. There’s lots of stuff in the freezer.”
Those were the famous last words. I don’t remember where we went on vacation. I just remember what happened when we got back. Remember the hamster? Remember how dad wrapped it up in foil and it was about the size of a baked potato? Remember how dad said Grandpa could help himself to anything he found? He found the hamster.
Grandpa is a second or third generation American-born German. He lived through World War II, fought in the Korean War, and didn’t like to waste food. So, he did what any resourceful guy would do: he made himself dinner from what we had. Now, before you jump ahead, rest assured my grandpa did not eat the hamster. He did however think it was a baked potato, opened it up, and was shocked to find a beady-black-eyed dead hamster looking right back at him. I so wish I had been there to see what he did.
When we got home from our vacation, I remember grandpa calling my dad into the kitchen and hearing the loudest burst of laughter. We ran into the kitchen to find my grandpa holding a partially foil-wrapped-frozen hamster out in his hand. My parents had completely forgotten the hamster from several months ago was even in there. Since Andrew’s hand didn’t turn green and fall off, there was no reason to remember it was in there. There was also no need to keep it. I like to hope it was buried in our backyard but I’m not sure the ceremony was at the forefront of our minds, we were laughing too hard.
So…as for Georgia and her hamster, Daisy (she’s already named it, we’re doomed.) The jury is still out and now Violet wants a hamster too. At least it’s not a snake. I’m pretty sure Olive will not let a hamster cohabitate in Violet’s room. Once a mouse got in our old house and it didn’t have a chance. It lived approximately 10-seconds before Olive caught it. Georgia and I were standing on the kitchen table screaming for Matt. That’s another story but this one doesn’t end with foil and a freezer.
Feature Photo: Photo by Ricky Kharawala on Unsplash