A true story?
Just after dinner one night, my son came up to tell
me there was something wrong with one of
the two hamsters he holds prisoner in his room.
Hes just lying there looking sick,
he told me.
Oldest trick in the book, son, I informed
him. You go in to see whats wrong with
the sick one and the other one sneaks up behind you
and bonks you on the head. Then they change into your
clothes and escape.
Im serious, Dad. Can you help?
I put my best hamster-healer expression on my face
and followed him into his bedroom. One of the little
rodents was indeed lying on his back, looking distressed.
I immediately knew what to do. Call for help! Honey!
I yelled. Look at the hamster!
Oh, my gosh! my wife diagnosed after a
moment. Shes having babies!
What? my son demanded. But their
names are Bert and Ernie, Mom!
I was equally outraged. Hey, how can that be?
I thought we said we didnt want them to reproduce,
I accused my wife.
Well, what was I supposed to do, post a sign
in their cage? she said sarcastically.
No, but you were supposed to get two boys!
I reminded her.
Yeah. Bert and Ernie! my son agreed.
Well, its a little hard to tell on some
guys! she growled.
By now the rest of the family had gathered to see what
was going on. I shrugged, deciding to make the best
of it. Kids, this is going to be a wondrous experience,
I announced. Were about to witness the
miracle of birth.
Gross! they shrieked.
Well, isnt that great! What are we going
to do with a litter of little hamster babies?
asked my wife.
When the dog had puppies, I took them to the
grocery store in a cardboard box and gave them away,
What do you want to do, take a pair of tweezers
along so people can pick out their hamster? she
We peered at the patient. After much struggling, what
looked like a tiny foot would appear briefly, vanishing
a moment later. Were not making much progress,
Breech birth! my wife whispered, horrified.
Dad! Do something! my son urged.
Okay, okay. Squeamishly, I reached in and,
the next time the foot appeared, gave it a little tug.
It disappeared. I tried again, with the same results.
Should I dial 911? my daughter asked. Maybe
they could talk us through this.
Lets get Ernie to the vet, I said
We drove to the vet with my son holding the cage in
his lap. Breathe, Ernie, breathe, he urged.
I dont think hamsters do Lamaze,
his mother noted.
The vet took Ernie into the examining room, put him
on the table, and peered at him through a magnifier.
What do you think, Doc? An epidermal? I
Oh, very interesting, he murmured. Mr.
and Mrs. Cameron, may I speak to you privately for
a moment? I gulped, nodding for my son to step
Is Ernie going to be okay? my wife asked.
Oh, perfectly, the vet assured us. This
hamster is not in labor. In fact, that wont ever
happen. Ernie is a boy.
You see, Ernie is a young male. And occasionally,
as they come into maturity, male hamsters will, uh,
er, ah... he blushed, glancing at my wife. Well,
you know what Im saying, Mr. Cameron.
We stood in shocked silence, trying to absorb this.
So Ernies just
my wife offered.
Exactly, the vet replied, relieved that
Then my vicious, cruel woman started to giggle. And
giggle. And laugh. Then laugh loudly. Laugh uncontrollably!
Whats so funny? I demanded. Tears
were running down her face.
you pulling on its
she had to gasp for air.
All right! Thats enough, I warned.
We thanked the veterinarian and bundled hamster and
son back into the car. He was just happy everything
I know Ernies really thankful for what
youve done, Dad, he told me.
Oh, you have no idea, my wife agreed, collapsing
into laughter as I gave her a dirty look.