This morning, while sitting in the safety of the dumping ground that is also known as my home office, I heard a skittering. My heart stopped. I thought “rats.” I was ready to call off going into work in favor of completely emptying the house and quite possibly fire bombing the place, when I saw the intruder. It was our pet gerbil, Tattle (There used to be two gerbils, Rattle and Tattle; but sadly Rattle passed away two years ago.) I have no idea how Tattle got out of his cage and crossed to the other side of the house without incident; but there he was, pondering my non-fiction book shelves. After a couple of truly lame attempts to catch him, I woke up The Father of My Child (what I call DH when I’m not particularly happy to be in love) and had him capture the rodent… This brought to mind an incident a couple of years ago when we first got the gerbils:
Pulling into my driveway with my daughter in the backseat, I was confronted with the slightly alarming sight of a floor lamp peering out of a window. The bulb was directly facing me and appeared like a giant white eye staring at me. I knew something was wrong. So, instead of being sensible and calling the police, I told my daughter to get down on the floor, while I locked her in and snuck in the side door. The sight that greeted me was total chaos. The kiddie gate from the kitchen/dining room area and into the playroom was blasted into smithereens, the gerbil cage was on the floor, upside-down and smashed and, the floor lamp was leaning against a toy bin (and peering out the window.) My old crippled dog was in a corner fruitlessly endeavoring to gain purchase on the new Pergo flooring and the new dog was howling. In a way akin to knowing when there’s a TV on in the house even though it may be muted and out of sight, I could immediately tell there was no one in the house. That still didn’t stop me from going from room-to-room with a golf club (a Tommy Armour Golden Scot #1 driver thank you very much) which was inside the entry door. After making sure everything was all clear, with the dogs still scrambling and howling, I went out to the car, brought my daughter in and sat her in the dining room and had her eat a Happy Meal. I picked the old dog up off the floor and got her ensconced on a dog bed. I threw a dog toy outside (the howling dog immediately stopped howling and went to hunt down the toy). Then I went in to assess the damage properly.
As near as I can reconstruct, the younger dog, knocked the gerbil cage off of the counter and onto the floor. The plastic cage cracked, tubing collapsed and the two gerbils made their escape. Maggie (the dog) went ballistic and crashed through the gate to go in after the rodents. In the ensuing chase, the lamp was knocked over. OK, but where are the gerbils? There are only two possible answers: either Maggie ate them or they were hiding somewhere. Now I make the call to the Father of My Child whose bright idea it was to get gerbils as a pets for my daughter (“It will teach her responsibility”) and he puts me on speaker phone while I utter the now- immortal line, “We have a problem with the gerbils.” This elicits all sorts of laughter and adolescent punch lines from grown “men” who happen to be sitting in TFOMC’s office. TFOMC, still giggling, manages to assure me that the gerbils were probably too fast for Maggie and are probably in the room somewhere. The room is a 4 inch drop from the kitchen and as they are only 3″ extended, they are probably still in the room.
Now comes my least favorite part. I am a bacillophobe and not particularly fond of any rodent of any stripe (or color.) And now I’m being asked to track two of these f!@#ers down. OK, calling upon my experience in the Omousa bin Laden Tour of Duty (2002) I start taking apart the room. I followed the poop. In their frantic bid for safety, they pooped all the way to their hiding places. I capture them in one of those clear plastic balls that gerbils and hamsters can roam around in. Then the clean-up. EEEEEEEW! A gallon of bleach later (which reminds me I must stop wearing black when I undertake these adventures) the room is in order and smelling “Mountain Fresh.” I am now out the door to get a rug shampooer, a new gerbil enclosure, a new kiddie gate and, a doghouse. And I’m using TFOMC’s credit card. That’ll teach him to put me on the speaker phone!