It was Christmas Eve and I was out shopping with my son. I thought I had raised him better.
I remember many holidays when I worked retail—in high school, college and thereafter. Somehow I was placed in the lingerie department and then, when I graduated college, I managed a department store lingerie area. By then I had grown a little smug and called it Panty Land.
It was the worst place to be on Christmas Eve. Every man in town seemed to wait until the last minute to shop for his wife or girlfriend, and I’d find myself holding up various intimate items for them to consider. It was humiliating. They never knew sizes and I’m sure a lot of women were disappointed Christmas morning. I promised myself never to wait until Christmas Eve to shop.
And then I had boys. I will give him credit. He had half of his shopping done. And he had a good excuse for waiting: he needed some money and used his Christmas cash from his grandparents to pay for some of his gifts.
So we headed out to buy his dad something from Boater’s World, and he wanted to buy his brother a pet, specifically a turtle. We scored a captain’s hat for Dad and then headed to where the pets go. I had to keep him focused on the mission at hand. One minute he was showing me his mad bird-catching skills and the next we were contemplating a snuggly puppy.
Finally we located a red-eared slider well within his budget. For five dollars, I figured we were home free. But there was a catch. The salesperson said you couldn’t leave the store with a turtle unless you purchased the turtle set-up (or rip-off, in this case), to the tune of $150. Thanks, but no.
Without a plan B, we put a make-shift plan B into action, and he guided me over to Rodent World. There he played with various hamsters and gerbils that looked curiously similar to their cousin I had snapped in a trap in the garage a few weeks ago. Just missing a tail...
Now, we’ve had various pets: dogs, lizards, frogs, fish, etc., but I had always drawn the line on a pet that had whiskers and sharp teeth. And then he found the dwarf hamsters. By gosh, they were cute. So we picked out a fuzzy little grey guy, bought the Habitrail and headed home. Little sister dubbed him Small Pie, and he went into safe-keeping under a blanket in big brother’s room.
On Christmas morning, the unveiling occurred and Small Pie was an instant success. He keeps his owner up some nights, running rabid in his habi-wheel, but it looks like he’s here to stay. Dad just had one warning: Keep Mom away from him with a sticky trap.