The Hamster Story
A True Story by W. Bruce Cameron
Overview: I had to take my son's hamster to the vet.
Here's what happened:
Just after dinner one night, my son came up to tell me there was "something wrong" with one of the two hamsters he holds prisoner in his room.
"He's just lying there looking sick," he told me.
"Oldest trick in the book, son," I informed him. "You go in to see what's wrong with the sick one and the other one sneaks up behind you and bonks you on the head. Then they change into your clothes and escape."
"I'm serious, Dad. Can you help?"
I put my best hamster-healer expression on my face and followed him into his bedroom. One of the little rodents was indeed lying on his back, looking distressed. I immediately knew what to do. Call the professional.
"Honey," I called, "come look at the hamster!"
"Oh, my gosh," my wife diagnosed after a minute. "She's having babies."
"What?" my son demanded. "But their names are Bert and Ernie, Mom!"
I was equally outraged. "Hey, how can that be? I thought we said we didn't want them to reproduce," I accused my wife.
"Well, what did you want me to do, post a sign in their cage,?" she inquired. (I actually think she said this sarcastically!)
"No, but you were supposed to get two boys!" I reminded her, in my most loving, calm, sweet voice.
"Yeah, Bert and Ernie!" my son agreed.
"Well, it's just a little hard to tell on some guys," she informed me. (Again with the sarcasm you think?)
By now the rest of the family had gathered to see what was going on. I shrugged, deciding to make the best of it. "Kids, this is going to be a wondrous experience," I announced. "We're about to witness the miracle of birth."
"OH, gross!" they shrieked.
"Well, isn't THAT just great! What are we going to do with a litter of tiny little hamster babies?" my wife wanted to know. (I really do think she was being snotty here, too. Don't you?)
"Well, when my parents' dogs had puppies, I took them up to the grocery store in a cardboard box and gave them away," I recalled.
"So what are you going to do, go up with a pair of tweezers so people can pick out their hamster?" she asked. (Gotta love her!)
We peered at the patient. After much struggling, what looked like a tiny foot would appear briefly, vanishing a scant second later. "We don't appear to be making much progress," I noted.
"A breech birth," my wife whispered, horrified.
"Do something, Dad!" my son urged.
"Okay, okay." Squeamishly, I reached in and grabbed the foot when it next appeared, giving it a gingerly tug. It disappeared. I tried again, with the same results.
"Should I dial 911?" my daughter wanted to know. "Maybe they could talk us through the trauma." (You see a pattern here with my females?)
"Let's get Ernie to the vet," I said grimly.
We drove to the vet with my son holding the cage in his lap.
"Breathe, Ernie, breathe," he urged.
"I don't think hamsters do Lamaze," his mother noted to him. (Women can be so cruel to their own young. I mean what she does to me is one thing, but this boy is "of her womb," for God's sake.)
The vet took Ernie back to the examining room and peered at the little animal through a magnifying glass. "What do you think, Doc, an epidermal?" I suggested scientifically.
"Oh, very interesting," he murmured. "Mr. and Mrs. Cameron, may I speak to you privately for a moment?" I gulped, nodding for my son to step outside.
"Is Ernie going to be okay?" my wife asked.
"Oh, perfectly," the vet assured us. "This hamster is not in labor. In fact, that isn't EVER going to happen ... Ernie is a boy."
"You see, Ernie is a young male. And occasionally, as they come into maturity, male hamsters will, master, er, er, ah..." He blushed, glancing at my wife. "Well, you know what I'm saying, Mr. Cameron."
We were silent, absorbing this. "So Ernie's just ... just ... excited?" my wife offered.
"Exactly," the vet replied, relieved that we understood. More silence. Then my vicious, cruel woman started to giggle. And giggle. And then even laugh loudly.
"What's so funny?" I demanded, knowing, but not believing that the woman I married would commit the upcoming affront to my flawless Manliness.
Tears were now running down her face. "Just ... that I'm picturing you pulling on its ... its ... teeny little ... " she gasped for more air to bellow in laughter once more.
"That's enough," I warned. We thanked the veterinarian and hurriedly bundled the hamster and our son back into the car. He was glad everything was going to be okay. "I know Ernie is really thankful for what you've done, Dad," he told me.
"Oh, you have NO idea," my wife agreed, collapsing into laughter as I gave her a dirty look. (And women have the gall to go though the marriage ceremony with a completely straight face. It's scary.)