Thursday, January 31, 2008
not all of life's lessons come from wise, old, respectable sources like our parents, other elders, teachers, or religious scriptures. sometimes they come from much humbler, far less conspicuous places . . .
this is a true story about a hamster named coco.
my brother and his wife both have cat and dog allergies. so, when my nephew and niece got to that age in a child's life when it becomes absolutely necessary to have a pet, my brother and his wife bought them a hamster.
coco, may she rest in peace, was a lovely, delightful hamster. she was demure, petite, loyal, slow to anger, quick to laugh, clever with capacious cheeks and long, pearly white teeth. like all nocturnal creatures (and mobsters), she slept during the day and became active at night, running for hours on end on her little wheel under silvery moonlight.
it is this last that leads us to our tale . . . since i often babysat and am a notoriously light sleeper, in the evenings we’d necessarily move coco from the guest bedroom to the adjoining bathroom. coco, being the ever-gracious hostess, slept in the loo with nary an objection.
one morning, i awoke at the unholy hour of 3am for my usual early morning tinkle. with no lights or wits about me, i rolled from the toasty cosiness of my bed to the icily tenebrous bathroom. in complete darkness, i sat down on the toilet, and as my eyes adjusted to the stygian blackness, i strained to see little coco in her cage. but she was nowhere in sight.
i called to her. no response.
i glanced into the bath tub. nothing.
i turned and peered into the shower. still nothing.
i quickly scanned the floor. no coco.
panic began setting in.
where could she have gone?
had i properly shut her door the night before? how had she escaped? the children would never forgive me if i'd lost their coco.
my mind raced.
it went from the plausible: the children . . . was it them? had the children taken her upstairs to sleep with them without telling me?
to the impossible: la llorona? why not? with no children of her own, maybe she felt a hamster--especially one as handsome as coco--was a suitable replacement.
the chupacabras? not much blood in hamsters, to be sure, but perhaps all it wanted was a light midnight snack.
what? who? how?
as i reached for some tissue, a sudden dread enveloped me. i'd checked everywhere for coco. that is, everywhere save the toilet on which i was sitting.
but, no . . . absurd! she couldn't have. could she? how could she even get in there?
using my kegels, i stopped midstream. i listened and then came the most horrifying, indeed, the most sickening sound i could have possibly heard at that moment . . .
splish . . . splash . . . splish . . . splash . . .
IT WAS COCO!
and i had just given her a golden shower.
i stood up and looked into the toilet. THERE SHE WAS. there was little coco clinging to the side of the bowl for dear life.
oh, the humanity!
without a thought or moment's hesitation, i reached into the bowl and pulled her out. then, i rushed to the sink and turned on some warm water.
she didn't move.
i was terrified. had i killed her? i knew i shouldn't have had so much water before bed! (thank god we didn't have asparagus for dinner . . .)
i finished rinsing her, and placing her gently on one of the soft, fluffy, pink hand towels, i dried her off.
she still didn't move.
please move, coco, pleeeeeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaaaase.
then came the desperate prayers to god: dear god, if you let coco live i promise to go to church, call my mother more often, stop using profanity . . .
and then, she keeled over.
OH MY FUCKING GOD, she's dead!
thanks a lot, pal!
she LITERALLY keeled over.
some people have the kiss of death.
i, I have the piss of death!
i moved in very close.
i nudged her.
and i'll be damned if she didn't spring back to life like frankenstein's monster, scratching and snarling . . .
oh, thank you lord jesus!
then, slowly, coco sat up and began fluffing her fur. after about ten minutes, she was once again perfectly coiffed. she'd been to hell and back, but in true coco style, she didn't look one bit worse for the wear.
i tossed a towel over her and put her softly back in to her cage, making sure the lock was firmly shut.
no, i didn't tell my family. i didn't tell anyone.
until now . . .
and there you are, wondering why you've wasted five minutes of your life reading this shit.
well, little coco went on to live several more happy years at the banana household. and me, i learned a great lesson from that tiny creature: no matter how bad your life gets, you always have to keep a sense of perspective about you because i guarantee that even at its worst, your life is not so bad that you're in a toilet getting pissed on. not usually, anyway . . .
(yeah, ok, i'm sorry. and no, i can't give you your five minutes back.)