Friday, February 11, 2005


Like every child growing up, Derek & I had hamsters. We started off with Digger. When Derek was in 3rd grade, he woke Mom up one morning and said, "Hey, can I put my name in the drawing to win the class hamster?" She wasn't fully awake and just mumbled "okay." Well, he won! When he showed up with Digger that afternoon she was flabbergasted. But she grew to love him.

He was a blonde teddy bear hamster and cuter than hell. He lived in a bird cage. Yes, that's right - a bird cage! I don't remember how we ended up making a bird cage his home* but he loved it. He would climb up the sides and jump over to the little swing and hang there while it swung back and forth. He also figured out how to slide the little door open and escape so we bread-tied it shut. For the rest of his life, he worked and worked at that door, rubbing the fur off of his nose in the process. He died after a year, I think, because he ate some peppermints. I was crushed. The whole family was.

So Mom got Derek & I two new hamsters. We named them Short Round (mine) and Digger II. They caught a cold a few months later and didn't last long but we loved them all the same. I think they were the first to be called "hammy-wammys" & "bunny-wunnys" by Dad. That "bunny" thing stuck and now I call any fuzzy rodent a bunny.

For Derek's next birthday, Mom bought us two more. Nikki (short for Nikolai Volkoff) and Madonna. I think you can tell which hamster belonged to which kid! They lasted about 3 years which is pretty good for a hamster. One time when Uncle Ray and Aunt MaryBeth were visiting, we had Nikki out and MB was holding her. Dad had told her about how they stuffed food into their cheek pouches and later on would unstuff and start eating. Well, Nikki went to clean her face but MB thought she was "unstuffing" and panicked, throwing her across the dining room and into the wall. Somehow, she was unhurt but Dad never let MaryBeth live that down.

After Nikki & Madonna passed on, Mom said "no more hamsters." We complied for about a year and then one day we went to Wal-Mart and bought two chinchilla hamsters without telling our parents. We put them on the far corner of the desk in my room and kept them secret for about a week, I think. We named them Joe & Sebastian. They were mean little fuckers - bit us every time we held them...they weren't near as cool as Nikki & Madonna or Digger! A sad story about Joe, though; their water bottle had broken and couldn't hang on the cage like it normally did so we duct taped it to the side of the cage. One night I woke up and heard this horrible squealing. Turning on the light, I saw Joe stuck on the duct tape, hanging from the middle of the cage, squealing his fuzzy little brain out. I couldn't peel the tape off cuz it was tearing off hunks of fur so I just cut off the tape. For the rest of his life he had duct tape on his back.

They were the last hamsters we ever had. But we sure had fun with them!

*= A while back there was a show on TV about funny game show moments. One of the clips was from Family Feud and during the lightning round, one of the questions was "name something you'd find inside a birdcage." The guy answered "Hamster." For a while, I didn't get why everyone thought that was so funny. OUR hamster lived in a birdcage...

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