Somehow at the office today, we got on the topic of rodents. One co-worker knew a hamster that wouldn’t leave another hamster alone (wink, wink). Another woman once had a gerbil that liked to go for rides on her Schnauzer’s back.
All the rodent talk took me back to 1987 when my brother, Ted, was in kindergarten and I was 12. So I shouted, “I have a funny story!” and proceeded to tell the office about Cinnamon, the guinea pig I once knew.
Cinnamon belonged to Ted’s kindergarten class; each month, Cinnamon got to go home with a different kid. My parents were divorced and each weekend, much like Cinnamon, my brother and I got passed to the other parent via a commuter parking lot. So Cinnamon had a bit of a journey ahead of him when it was Ted’s turn to take him home.
Cinnamon handled the first leg of the trip—from my mother’s to the commuter parking lot and then from the lot to my father’s—with flying colors. His appetite was good; his eyes hungry for adventure. Things were looking good.
When we got to my father’s house an hour later, we let Cinnamon out of his cage so he could frolic. We took some prize-worthy shots of him riding the dust balls by the couch (yes, those same dust balls). We even got a shot of sweet ole Cinnamon navigating a maze of soda cans. After he’d filled his gut with dinner and drinks, we let him play with Ted’s Ninja Turtles and he really seemed to like them. His eyes were bright with new horizons. His whole world was opening up. We didn’t just transport Cinnamon, we challenged his mental and physical prowess.
Maybe we challenged him too much: The next morning, Cinnamon had the shakes.
My father got a nice, soft bath towel and wrapped the little guinea man up. But he still shook. Was he shaking from excitement? Joie de dust balls? I’d like to think so. Whatever the reason, Teddy had a complete meltdown so we arranged to meet my mother earlier than usual so we could get Cinnamon back to his home turf but…
The pig didn’t survive the night.
My mother, Linda, had to call Ted’s teacher at home and tell her the news. The teacher took it well; she even got on the phone with Teddy and told him that Cinnamon was old and had had a long, happy life. He was on his way to that mound of paper shavings in the sky.
After I finished my story, my co-workers were silent.
“Poor thing!” someone finally said.
“But it’s funny,” I pointed out.
“A commuter parking lot?”
“When did your parents divorce?”
Ay. At least the experience prepared me for Junior’s first rodent field trip. Although, if we still live in Mulletville I hope the school system at least springs for something domesticated.
(It was kind of funny, right?)