OK, maybe exemplary is a little high-handed. I pride myself on being a good parent.
Although. . .my 11-year-old children are still incapable of properly tying their shoes and have the attention span of Jessica Simpson on Nyquil so perhaps "good" may be pushing the envelope just a scootch.
Meh, whatevs. My short people have made it to 11 without committing a felony or acquiring any emotional scars that will have me guest-listed on the Dr. Phil show, so I'm declaring this whole motherhood thing to be a win.
As I have proven my mad parenting skillz* with my short people, it seemed only fair to spread the wealth around a bit and extend that knowledge base to the animal kingdom by acquiring a pet. Yes, you heard me. We got pets this weekend. Small, furry living beings that require food, water, and human attention. Pray for them. Pray for us all.
*And yes, that's skillz with a 'z'. We keeps it gangsta in mah crib, yo.
The short people have been bugging me for a pet for a while but I
said "Fuck, no!" sweetly demurred as the only thing I loathe more than Nickelback, Crocs, and other people's children is neediness. And pets? Are needier than a fat girl on prom night. But, as a parent, every so often I'm forced to lean into the strike zone and take one for the team, so I grudgingly agreed to let each of my short people get a hamster. J was jonesing for a dog and M was totally Team Cat but I was adamant that any mammal entering our home would be one that would not require any veterinary care.*
*Because, if a hamster gets sick. . .well, as my friend Alex would say: "Taking a hamster to the vet is like taking a disposable razor to the repair shop." Cut your losses and move on.
As I am never one to enter into any milieu where shenanigans may ensue without a witness, we brought my friend Brandon along for the ride. Brandon and first met at work years ago when I was going through my particularly heinous divorce. Brandon offered to take my mind off of it. Which he did. Repeatedly. In various locations. Nowadays we have a more traditional friendship, with the understanding that if neither one of us are in a relationship then it is on like Saigon. On paper, Brandon's and my friendship makes less sense than Braille on a drive-through ATM.*
*Seriously, would someone please explain that shit to me? Because if I look over and see Stevie Wonder cruising up to Wells Fargo in a Nissan Sentra, then I'll be outta there faster than you can say "Isn't She Lovely". But maybe that's just me. . .I'm very superstitious. . .OK, I'll stop now.
Where I am a 42-year-old woman with two children, a mortgage, and a 401K, Brandon is a 27-year-old dipshit who has an X-Box and a complete lack of functional life skills. And yet, here we are.
We got to PetSmart after a failed attempt at PetCo. Apparently PetCo doesn't actually sell. . .you know. . .pets; it just sells pet-related accoutrements. Which is fine, in theory. God and the Baby Jeebus know I loves me a nice accoutrement, but shouldn't the store name be a little less misleading? If PetCo really is "where pets go" then wouldn't it stand to reason that there would actually be a few pets in the hizz-ouse? I'm just sayin... So we roll into PetSmart and ho. Ly. Shit. Have you been in one of these places? It's huge. Like WalMart huge. Like MTV "Cribs" house huge.*
*Which of course prompted me to run my hands over the doggie beds and say "This is where the magic happens". I have issues.
So, naturally, when faced with this bounteous wealth of open space and squeak toys, my short people went completely batshit, Amanda Bynes crazy.
"Mommy! Can we get a cat too? Let's get a cat!" J wheedled, jumping up and down like Michael Flatley on crystal meth.
"No cats." I stated firmly. "Think small. Think quiet. Think rodent." Discouraged, J skulked off to the hamster cages with a huff.
"Why so anti-cat?" Brandon asked, popping an Altoid into his mouth.
"I'm not anti-cat." I countered. "Just anti-anything I have to clean up after. I have a hard enough time keeping the boys from crapping on the floor and climbing on the kitchen counter."
"Dude, that was ONE TIME, and I was totally drunk." Brandon stated with a roll of his eyes.
I mirrored his eye roll and handed him a bag of hamster food. "I meant MY boys. Seriously, I. . .wait. . .what do you mean 'one time'? Which was it? Did you climb on my kitchen counters or drop a deuce on my floor?"
"Hey! Let's see what those boys of yours are up to!" Brandon said with a nervous laugh, racing across the store.*
*NOTE TO SELF: Disinfect countertops at once. And consider giving the carpets a Silkwood shower as well.
Walking over to the hamster cages I saw my short people talking with a store employee. Well, M was talking to her. . .or rather, talking AT her. Part of M's autism is his single minded obsession with sundry items. At present, it is hamsters. He also is all-knowing in weather patterns, exactly which stores have gone out of business in the Portland metro area, and washers and dryers.*
*The latter of which I have used to my advantage. For M, doing laundry is better than a trip to Disney World. Give that kid a little OxyClean and a dryer sheet and he's happier than Lindsay Lohan at a Liquor Barn. Now if I can just get him to stim out on vacuum cleaners, I'd be golden.
"Did you know that hamsters can live up to two years?" M sputtered excitedly. "And there are 25 species of hamsters and they're nocturnal and they eat fruit and grains and vegetables and they are colorblind and they can't live in Hawaii because it's illegal?"
The store clerk stared at M in stunned silence, in no doubt enthralled by his hamster acumen. Well, enthralled or slightly disturbed. Po-tay-to, po-tah-to. After giving her the Clif's Notes version of all things autism, she proceeded to give me the hamster 411.
"Now, keep them away from direct sunlight," she said with great gravity, "and make sure you don't use real wood shavings in their cage. Wood shavings can give them asthma."
"Oh, that's OK." I said with a laugh. "I'll just get them both a tiny inhaler."
She shook her head rapidly. "Oh, no. That probably wouldn't work. It would be REALLY hard for them to use."
"Is she for real?" I muttered to Brandon when the clerk went to get a pet carrier.
Brandon shrugged. "I dunno, but she's got a nice ass."
I barked with laughter. "Ha! Isn't she a little young for you? You know, considering your obvious 'Stifler's Mom' proclivities?"
"What are you talking about?" he asked quizically.
"Dude, seriously." I smirked. "How many desperate housewives did you bang when you worked at the gym?"
Brandon gazed dreamily. "More than I could count. That place was like CostCo for poon."
"Well, that's a visual my brain can't unsee." I drawled. "How old was the oldest one?"
"I dunno." he said with a furrowed brow. "How old were you when you worked there?"
I stared at him in shock. "Seriously? I was the oldest one? That's both flattering and a trifle disturbing, not gonna lie. So, why me"
Brandon laughed and tugged on my ponytail. "You were hot. And I knew you wouldn't fall in love with me because you already knew I was a dick."
I sighed. "Yeah. . .I was hot back then. Crushing depression and existential angst were a great diet."
"Pfft, you're still hot." Brandon said, grabbing a chew toy for his dog, Cleveland.
"And you're still a dick." I replied with a consoling pat on his arm.*
*OK, it may have been an excuse to feel him up. That boy may annoy the ever-loving shit outta me but he has arms like Jeremy Renner.
Bam. You're welcome.
As the store clerk was reaching for J's hamster he stopped her. "Excuse me, but can I get a white mouse instead?"
I shrugged. "I don't see why not. I'm all about multi-cultural relationships; your mouse and M's hamster can live in sin."
The clerk shook her head gravely. "Yooooooou don't want to put a mouse and a hamster in the same cage."
"Why not?" J asked.
She raised her eyebrows. "Did you ever see 'The Hunger Games'?"
J stared in shock for a moment until the full impact of her statement sank in. Then a broad grin spread across his cherubic face. "That is so rad."
Lest the clerk think my son was destined for a future that involved asking coeds to place the lotion in the basket, I explained that he was a boy, and therefore fascinated by all things death and dismemberment. But, as I wasn't in the mood to be wiping blood off of the cornucopia after J's mouse went all Career Tribute on M's hamster, I put the kibbosh on Plan Mouse and a disappointed J glumly chose an albino dwarf hamster that bore enough resemblance to a white mouse to assuage his grief.*
*Although I secretly loved the idea of an inter-species union. One love, y'all. . .one love.
One hour and $95.75 later, we were home with two cages, a bag of chew sticks, a bag of cage liner, two water bottles, a shitton of hamster feed and two rodents that were shaking like Michael J. Fox after a quad-shot latte. One hour after that I was cursing at the "easy" to assemble cages and yelling at Brandon to get off of the couch and help me before I went all Richard Gere on his ass with the hamsters. Brandon may not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but the boy is smart enough to know when he's moments away from a roundhouse nut punch. So, with his expertise, we had finally assembled each cage and were able to introduce the hamsters to their new homes. I called the boys to their room for the Big Moment.
"OK, guys, this is IT!" I cried, clapping my hands like a trained seal. "Say it with me: BUSDRIVER, MOVE THAT BUS!"
"Just put the rats in the cage, Ty Pennington." Brandon said with a yawn. "I have a date in twenty minutes."
Scowling at his lack of festivity, I set each hamster in their respective cage and waited for the joy and merriment to commence. The hamsters froze; staring at us, motionless.
"Mommy?" J asked "Is he going to run in his wheel?"
"I'm sure he will," I whispered reassuringly. "Just be patient."
"Are they going to climb up the tube?" M queried with a furrowed brow.
"Any minute now, Sweetie." I said soothingly.
J sighed dramatically. "Can we go watch 'Phinneas and Ferb' now?"
"Yeah, go." I replied with a dejected wave of my hand as the boys bolted from the room. I turned to Brandon in frustration. "Are you fucking kidding me here?"
He smirked devilishly. "Told you you should have gotten a cat."
COST OF HAMSTER FOOD: $7.99
COST OF MONTHLY GYM MEMBERSHIP TO AMP UP MY UPPER BODY STRENGTH: $70.00
LOOK ON MY FRIEND'S FACE WHEN I PITCH BAG OF HAMSTER FOOD AT HIS HEAD LIKE RANDY JOHNSON: Priceless