Animal House, Part III - The Final Chapter
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See Animal House Part I and Part II to get the whole story.

For those of you who have been following my Animal House saga and are on edge anxiously awaiting more news, you may be relieved to know that my son's nasty little hamster, Snowball, had six babies in four days after we got her. Hopefully, this explains her aberrant (a/k/a vicious) behavior.

Nobody was more surprised at the new arrivals than my husband, Ed. I sprung the news about the new hamster pups on him as he was leaving for work early one morning. He peered into the cage, but Snowball was sitting on the nest.

"How many are there?" he asked.

  
 
"I think there's six. I counted six, but there may be more," I told him. He groaned.

Suddenly, he went into drill sergeant mode. "They need to be kept warm," he commanded. "Make sure those windows are closed. And keep this door shut."

"Don't tell me you're concerned about these babies, Mr. Why-Do-We-Need-All-These-Animals?"

"Look, I'm not having six funerals for six dead hamster babies." He left for work.

I told my boys about the new arrivals when they woke up. Jimmy, who is nine, peeked into the cage and gushed over the new babies. Danny, who is seven, took a completely different tack.

"Whoa, whoa, wait a minute here," he said. "I want a return on this."

"What are you talking about?" I asked him. "A return on what?"

"Those," he said, pointing to the cage. "Those baby hamsters. I'm gonna sell 'em for $200." This kid was dead serious.

"Danny," I said patiently. "You can't get a $200 return on a three-dollar hamster. No one's going to pay $200 for the babies, and you only paid $3.00 for the hamster." I couldn't believe I was having this conversation with a seven-year-old kid.

"What are we going to do with the babies?" Jimmy asked.

"I guess we'll give them away if somebody wants one. Or we can give them to the pet shop." I turned to go downstairs.

"Oh, no," Danny said, close behind me on the stairs. "I told you. I'm not giving those hamsters away. I'll sell them, but I won't give them away."

"Dan, you'll be lucky if you don't have to pay people to take them," I told him.

My husband and I were looking at the hamsters one night after he got home from work. "You know," I told him. "I gave Snowball some blueberries the other day and she really liked them. I'm going to get her some blueberries."

I left Ed with the hamsters. When I came back upstairs and into the room, Ed was crouched on the floor.

"What are you doing?" I asked.

"She bit me," he said.

"She did?"

"Yeah," he said, still crouched on the floor. "She's around here someplace. Shut the door."

"You mean she's loose? How did she get loose?"

"There she is!" He made a dive for the hamster as she scurried by, and the chase was on. I can only imagine what the two of us looked like, spreading blueberries around the floor trying to bait this little hamster. She ran out from under the desk, snatched a blueberry, ran under the bureau, and then across the room under the bed. My husband was on the floor on one side of the bed and I was on the other side. Ed kept me informed with a play-by-play on the hamster's whereabouts. "Oooh, oooh, here she comes, toward you. Oooh, no, now she's coming to me. Oooops, now she's going out the end." This went on for about a half an hour and we finally caught the hamster and returned her to her cage unharmed.

"What exactly happened here?" I asked Ed. He had his finger wrapped in the hem of his T-shirt, and I noticed the blood was seeping through.

"Well, she bit me," he said.

"What did you do, stick your finger in the cage? Did you try to touch the babies?" I asked.

"No," he said. "There was a carrot in there, and I thought she might want it, so I stuck my finger in to get her the carrot, and she ran over and bit me," he explained.

"But I don't understand how she got loose."

"Well, she bit me and I, uh, reacted," he said. He pointed his finger out. "When she bit me, I just reacted to it (here, he demonstrated by jerking his finger up quickly) and-fweep-I launched her out of the cage. I couldn't help it. It just happened." Ed unwrapped his finger from his T-shirt and held it in front of my face. "Look! I'm injured!!" I rolled my eyes.

I was able to find homes for three of the six pups fairly quickly. My old reliable friend, Christine, who recently lost her pet goldfish, Fishy and Swa, was first in line after I emailed her the good news. "Might youse consider giving one of the babies up for adoption after they're weaned and hit hamster drinking age? I will name him Sully. I will get Sully a little hamster baseball cap and a T-shirt that says, 'Yankees suck.' We will drink pumpkin ale in the fall, scotch in the winter, Chardonnay in the springtime and mojitos in the summer."

Good old Christine. Always comes through in a pinch. I told Danny as we were browsing around a shoe store that we were giving a hamster to Christine because she is a very good friend whom I've known for 13 years, and he was not going to have her pay for a hamster.

"Oh, yeah," he said in total agreement. "I'll give Christine one because she's our friend," he agreed. "And I've known her for 13 years," said the seven-year-old.

I put the news out to my coworkers. One said she'd take one if I guaranteed her a male and insists on paying Danny $3.00 for it. (I told Danny I sold one of his hamsters for $3.00, and he mulled this over. "Not a bad deal," he concluded, nodding his head.) Another co-worker has reserved one for her little granddaughter.

I then sent an email out amongst the other 26 coworkers warning them that there were only three hamsters left and to be sure to get theirs before it was too late. Here are some of the responses I got: "Geeze, they're going like hot cakes!"

"You really should post the rest in the classified -- you'll get some interested sap."

"I'll consider myself warned."

"I'll have mine with gravy."

"You got rid of the one I wanted."

"Toooo cute, but no thanks."

"NO."

I even asked Tim the Homeless Guy if he wanted a hamster. (Tim panhandles at an intersection in Downtown Boston, and I always give him a dollar. He's no longer homeless, but he still panhandles.) I thought that maybe he'd like a nice hamster for a companion. He said, "No, you hold on to it."

He took my buck, though; he had no problem with that.

I started working on the neighbor's kid. He said he wanted a hamster, but when I asked his mother, she said no. I was sure to point out that I watch her kid all the time and have never asked for anything in return, and the least she could do was take a hamster off my hands. I'm sure when she stops laughing, she'll have a witty comeback.

Weeks have passed and the babies have grown. We're now working on separating the males from the females. Even with a picture from the hamster handbook pointing out the obvious differences between a male and a female, I'm still stumped. I think they're all males, but Jimmy, hamster manual open next to the cage, has assiduously inspected what he says are four males, a female and one undetermined because it won't come out of the tube in its cage.

That kid loves a challenge. Now, after handling the babies, my sons have decided to each keep one (and hopefully my husband won't notice if we don't tell him). Although Danny could probably be persuaded to give his hamster up if there's cash involved. I threw out a last email to the 26 coworkers, hoping to be able to find a home for the last one.

Some were, as usual, most helpful: "As tempting as this sounds . . . I'm afraid I will have to pass. Thanks anyway!"

"Did you say something?"

"I'll have mine with a nice virgin olive oil and champagne vinaigrette."

Aren't these guys funny? Aren't I just lucky to work with such caring people?

The other 23 of them are just blatantly ignoring me.

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