Reasons not to leave Daddies at home with small rodents nearing the end of their lives
The cat eyed me suspiciously as if thinking, 'Does she like me, or does she want me to have a blood clot that paralyses one side of my body?'
|Hm, thought Ginger. Is she thinking 'massage' or 'massacre'?|
This episode amused me. (It doesn't take much.) I walked on to work grinning like an eejit, with the people driving past thinking, a) She's just stroked a cat and it's cheered her up or b) She's just watched a cat get paralysed and gets her kicks in a very odd way.
Then I remembered a gerbil we used to have when our kids were little. Poor old Blackie. It's bad enough being born a gerbil, to be honest, without suffering the indignities he did....
We had two gerbils, Brownie and Blackie. I know these sound unoriginal names, but the people we inherited them from had called them Brahms and Liszt which is rhyming slang for 'pissed'. We wanted safer names in case the kids wrote about them in their primary school diaries and, after we'd rejected Colin and Sharon, we went for Brownie and Blackie.
One afternoon, our 5 year old son had a friend round. They always disputed, afterwards, whose idea it had been to get Blackie out of his cage and swing him round by his tail like Fred Estaire did with a walking cane, but Blackie was never the same, surprise, surprise, and a little while after this, he had a stroke.
The stroke did something to one side of his body, so he could only walk round the cage in one direction, as though one side of him was extremely heavy. It certainly confused Brownie, who couldn't work out why Blackie was acting like a raving drunk when he was actually meant to be a gerbil and nothing more complicated.
|'Look straight ahead at the camera, idiot!' said Brownie. But, alas, for Blackie, the days|
of looking straight ahead at anything were gone.
Well, one week, I took the kids to their grandparents and we stayed a few days, leaving Daddy behind. While we were there, he rang me.
Here is Scene 1 of a short play entitled, 'News About a Dead Gerbil You Don't Want to Hear'.
Husband: I've got some news about Blackie. He's dead.
Wife: Oh no! How will I tell the kids?
Husband: Say, 'Blackie's dead?' How else?
Wife: Do you have any compassion? Anyway, what have you done with him?
Husband: What do you mean, what have I done with him?
Wife: Put him in a shoebox or something? The kids will want to bury him in the garden and have a proper funeral when we get back.
Husband: Ah. There could be a complication.
Wife: Which is?
Husband: *Awkward silence*
Wife: Which is?
Husband: *Longer awkward silence*
Wife: Where is he?
Husband: I ... er ... I wrapped him in kitchen foil and put him in the bin. They collected the rubbish this morning.
Here, we will stop the play and I will just let you imagine Scene 2. Let me just say that we had some very, very awkward questions to answer about what Daddy had done with Blackie and why there was no funeral. People suggested all sorts ('surely a sausage roll is the same size ... just wrap it in a blanket and say it was Blackie in the box') but in the end, we went for honesty, said Daddy had already disposed of him, and tried to leave it at that.
|Tips for cooks #1|
Not every foil parcel sitting on the kitchen surface is necessarily the salmon you prepared earlier
Suffice it to say, when Brownie died, I think he got a better burial than the Queen Mother. Lining the shoebox with ermine and giving him a golden pillow probably was pushing the limits, but Daddy had a Lot of Making Up to do.