Maria wrote today about finding a mouse in her home.
Apparently, Maria does not like mice.
I, on the other hand, think that mice are cute. I even think tiny rats are cute (I do draw the line at big city dumpster rats). Just ask Iwanski—when we’re waiting for a train in the subway, one of my favorite things to do is to look for little subway rats darting under the rails. They’re just so damn cute!
I think my love of all-things-rodent stems from the fact that Iwanski and I, in our pre-cat days, had a hamster. I mean, after all, what are hamsters but furry mice with short, stubby tails?
Our hamster’s name back then was Cosmo. And we loved our little Cosmo.
Even though we had barely any disposable income in those days, we made sure that Cosmo was well-taken care of. She didn’t just have a hamster cage—she had a hamster mansion. We seriously probably spent about $300 on a bunch of cages and several feet of tubing for her wandering pleasure. She was one spoiled hamster. But she rewarded us by entertaining us as we watched her run in her wheel or carry food through all those tubes, from one end of her mansion to the other. I just found her really interesting to watch.
One of those cages was an open-air cage with white bars, like a little miniature zoo cage. Cosmo hung out in that cage the most often, and she quickly realized that if she started biting on the bars of the cage, we would let her out to climb all over us and over pretty much anything else in the room. She LOVED that (as evidenced by her biting on those bars every time we were in the room). And in her little hamster way, I think she even kinda liked us.
One night, long after Iwanski and I had gone to bed and were fast asleep, I suddenly felt the tickle of tiny rodent feet on my chest. I sprung up and screamed “Cosmo’s out of her cage!” (Funny how I instantly knew it was her—I didn’t even question that it might be a mouse.) Of course, my jumping up and screaming scared the hell out of our little friend, and she quickly disappeared from the room.
And thus began the search through our house (which, at that time, was a large 3-bedroom apartment). We split up and searched separate sides of the house, hoping to catch a glimpse of her in some tight little space, like behind the couch. But we had no luck. I was starting to worry that we were going to step on her, or that somehow she’d get hurt before we could find her.
Finally, Iwanski yelled from the kitchen, “I found her!” And there she was. Hmm, we found her in the one room in the house with a few tiny food crumbs on the floor. What a surprise.
He carried her back to her cage, and we both watched her climb back through the tubes, to the little room where she kept most of her treasured food.
And we continued to watch her, fascinated as she began emptying her newly-found treasures from her cheek pouches. There was a little peanut fragment, then a piece of a potato chip—and then, interestingly enough, a little piece of foil and a tiny piece of shiny blue paper.
“Why did she pick those up?” I asked, surprised.
Iwanski responded that he had read that hamsters liked shiny things. Hmmm, not unlike some humans! I found that very fascinating.
Finally, when she had finished emptying her cheeks, we went back to bed. My dreams that night were full of cute little creatures.
Cosmo was my first pet, and without really realizing it, I had grown kind-of attached to her. So when she got sick, and eventually died, I was surprised at how sad I was. She was just such a cute little thing.
Iwanski and I put her lifeless little body in a small cardboard box and filled it with all of her favorite nuts and seeds—especially peanuts in the shell. (She really loved peanuts in the shell.) Then we took her to the lake near our home, placed the box among the rocks, and said goodbye to our little friend.
Now, whenever someone says they don’t like rodents, I think about Cosmo and how much fun she was to watch, and to hold as she climbed all over me.
I really did love that little rodent.