Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hamster Infestation

So many time saving, work reducing, stress minimizing gadgets—so little time to figure out how they work or how to fix them when they don’t work or how to rid them of hamster infestations. Troublesome, especially when you’ve become completely dependent and addicted to the use of afore mentioned gizmos.

Washers and dryers are real stress relievers—or they can be. When we were young, poor, newly married, and our clothes were often embarrassingly rumpled, someone gave us a FREE washing machine. It had a rat living in it. The rat left piles of rodent flotsam in and around the machine to make sure we understood who owned what.

We owned our rumpled clothes. The rat owned our washing machine. I found the situation stressful—not to mention frightening. What happened, or could happen, or might happen when adding that last pair of random biker shorts to the load, you discover that there’s a rat doing the sidestroke during the wash cycle? Those suckers can jump—the rat, not the biker shorts.

My newly wedded husband had to trap the washing machine rat and then bonk it on the head with a barbell. Afterwards, I thought I heard him shout, “Today, I am a man.”

Some years later, Brownie the “Knocked-Up” Hamster managed to escape her cage into our brand new squeaky-clean (never used) house. She re-located to the back of my brand new squeaky-clean (never used) stove. Driven by instinct and early labor, Brownie began to nest in the insulation of the stove. Occasionally, Brownie would stick her nose through the grating on the back of the stove, wiggle her whiskers at me, and giggle.

My phone call to the service center is legendary.
“You don’t understand. There’s a hamster nesting in the back of my new stove.”

“Serial number please.”

“No, no serial number. This is an emergency. Brownie the Hamster is pregnant. She may be crowning.” My voice became more strident with each word.

Brownie pressed one eye to the grating and watched my panicked pacing. A whisper of pink insulation drifted from the back of the stove to the kitchen floor. 

“I can’t find any record of an extended warranty for you Mrs. Zern.”

“What difference does that make? Does your fancy warranty cover hamster labor and delivery?”

“We can have a repairman out there Friday of next week.”

“NEXT WEEK!  By that time, I’ll have a flock of hamsters setting up a condominium association in my beautiful new glass top stove. Argggggh!”

I thought I heard Brownie the Hamster asking for an epidural. 

“Listen, let me ask you something, Wanda,” I said, trying another tack. “That’s right, isn’t it? Wanda? So Wanda, what might happen, I mean what might the possible ramifications be, if I turn the oven on full blast and set it to self-clean?”

It took hours to pry Brownie out of that time saving invention.

Finally, when a car repairman, while checking the engine of our family van called out, “Hey lady, did you know you have a rat living in your engine?” I knew enough to play it cool.

“Of course I know there’s a rat in my engine. She’s our hamster’s second cousin, twice removed. Visiting from Bithlo.”

There are days when I’d rather wash my clothes by beating them with rocks down by the river, cook my buffalo on a stick over a fire pit, and drag my kids around between two tree trunks lashed to a goat. There’d be less stress, less work, and a lot less time wasted—also less rodent drama.

Linda (Driving Miss Rat) Zern 



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