Last Christmas, Tom took our Golden Retriever, Farley, to Pet Smart to buy dog food. When he came home, he put some suspicious-looking pamphlets on the kitchen center island. I should have known better than to look at those pamphlets, but the sheer curiosity of it all got the better of me. Inside were inserts about different types of gerbils, hamsters, and the like. Yes, Tom decided that he would like to buy the kids some new pets for Christmas.
Over the course of the next week or so, I tried to humor Tom. I played along like, “Sure-why-not.-The-kids-would-love-it” sort of thing. When I found out that he was actually serious, I realized that I had put my foot in my mouth.
Days before Christmas, Tom arrived home with two small, little rodents. One was field brown and one was midnight black. I should have known what we were in for when it came time for the kids to “open” up the gerbils. Believe me when I say they were more interested in the box than they were of the gerbils. However, we forged on. It was now time to give the gerbils a name. Some of the kids’ favorite sitters were a nice, young couple named Sarah and Robb. Our 6-year old decided to name her brown gerbil Sarah and our 8-year old named his black gerbil Bob.
In all honesty, Sarah is sweet enough. She’s smart, cute, loves to exercise on the wheel, and most importantly, lets us hold her. Bob, on the other hand…I should have known that his midnight black fur was a sign of something less pure.
One night after the kids had gone to bed, Tom was cleaning out Bob and Sarah’s cage. Knowing that Bob wasn’t the friendliest rodentia, Tom made the mistake of attempting to pet that desert rat. I could only imagine what Bob thought as he saw this giant hand come at him. After all, this was HIS domain. He did what any other threatened mammal would do: He took his chompers and dug it into Tom’s finger. The scene that followed was one that could only be compared to that of a cartoon.
Tom reactively flings his hand into the air, not realizing that Bob would still be attached to it. Bob sails across the room like a Frisbee on a sandy beach. He landed on the floor, near where I was sitting. My eyes grew huge while Tom was yelling at me to get up! Get up! I realized that Bob was somewhere near by body and running around like a mad animal on speed. I half-arched, half-jumped and did this crazy dance to keep from stepping on Bob, as he hopped back and forth, pooping with every step he took. Finally, Tom was able to catch Bob and put him back in the cage.
Tom told our 8-year old the story and at one point, made the mistake of calling Bob a Devil. My son’s eyes grew huge and he was horrified that his dad would say something so cold, so vicious. “Bob is NOT the Devil!” wailed my son. I shook my head and walked away, letting Tom to deal with that shortcoming.
Since that fateful day, Sarah is still a sweet little gerbil, while Bob continues to exercise his chompers any chance he gets, especially on Tom. Yes, Tom still calls Bob the Devil. But rather than saying it out loud, he now whispers it.