Like many American children, I had pet dirigibles as a child. You know–dirigibles. Those cute little rodents with the long tails? Ok, so maybe they aren’t called dirigibles. What I’m talking about are gerbils. But then again, I never had a gerbil–I had 3 hamsters and 4 Guinea pigs. So why do I say that I had pet dirigibles?
We all have certain words that we have difficulty saying. For me, it’s the title of my job: Institutional Research. It’s just something about those two words together that leave me tongue tied. Our youngest daughter for the longest time couldn’t say the word vinegar. For her, it was always viginer. If you think about it, there are words you struggle with. Back to my pets. Dad NEVER could (and still can’t) say Gerbil. I’m not poking fun, but it’s his word. It is funny though.
Rodent or airship?
Every time he talked about our hamsters, he said dirigible. We never were able to get through to him that they weren’t gerbils anyways, they were hamsters. For those of you that have had pet rodents, you know that hamsters and gerbils are definitely different animals. Gerbils have long and sometimes bushy tails. Hamsters have very short stubby tails. On the other hand, dirigibles are hydrogen filled airships used in the early 20th century. I know the difference. You know the difference. Dad on the other hand…Like I said, I’m not poking fun at dad–just a humorous family story. I know in his mind, a dirigible is a small rodent that we kept in cages.
Back to hamsters
Some in my family would say that hamsters are evil. From my perspective, hamsters are just stupid. I had three and the first two died by their own stupidity. The first froze to death one night. He (it–whatever) would sleep in his food bowl. One night, that food bowl had been pushed under his water bottle. So, every time he moved, a drop of water would fall on him. We woke up on a cool morning and he was unresponsive. I remember mom spending over an hour warming him with a heating pad and doing CPR on him. (Yeah, it was hopeless from the start, but I was 7!)
My next hamster choked to death on his running wheel. This one decided that the purpose of his running wheel wasn’t exercise but lunch. He ate the plastic holding it on the cage and choked to death on a piece of that plastic. For once, in the amount of time that I had three hamsters, Mike had one.
His hamster was a fat lazy lump. At his last weigh-in, he weighed 17.3 pounds. He once got out of his cage by eating a huge hole in it. We found him 2 days later finishing off the neighbor’s cat. When he died, we substituted him for the Thanksgiving turkey. NOT REALLY! This might ALL be a little exaggeration, but he was fat. And he did chew a huge hold in his Plexiglas cage to escape.