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Varmint: A Real-Life Fable

When I was in fourth grade, we had a class pet. I didn't like it.

It was either a hamster or a gerbil, I forget which. (I would say guinea pig was a possibility, too, but I don't remember it being that big.) Other kids in my class would volunteer to take it home over the weekend. I never did. We had a real pet at home, after all. A St. Bernard-German Shepherd mix named Tiny.

I didn't care about it at all. I've never been fond of rodents. As my friend starfallz will likely agree, rodents are not pets; rodents are what pets eat.

So the rodent furball probably had some cute name derived from hippie culture, like Sunshine or something, since its fur was a golden brown. But I don't actually remember its name, either. I'm just going to call it Varmint.

I only touched Varmint once. Someone was petting him/her/it and asked me to put it back in its cage. I was tentative. Rather than grabbing it the way you're supposed to, I held it in my cupped hands and made my way slowly across the classroom.

Just as I setting him/her/it down in the aquarium that was its home, Varmint bit the very tip of my index finger. Dug right in and broke the skin. My parents always said I should go into boxing. Not because I was a great fighter, mind you, but because I bleed a lot when hurt. I could give the fans their fill of bloodlust as soon as I took my first jab.

I dropped Varmint like he was on fire down into his home and he went on about his business. In the fourth grade, I knew and used dirty words - had a real fondness for them actually - but didn't dare use them in the classroom. I watched my hand look like something from a slasher flick and thought four-letter thoughts and ignored the sting in my finger.

I still don't like rodents. rosepurr recently commented that she would love to have a cute little guinea pig. I reminded her that we have two cats who would eat it and that I would not stop them. Actually, I'd encourage them. :)

Is there a lesson here? Probably. Varmint was just a scared little critter, doing what it could, reacting to its circumstances the only way it knew how. I thought I was being nice to it by not squeezing its little body or dangling it by its tail. And so I got bit.

Sometimes you have to be cruel to be kind.

[Posted for LJ Idol Season 6, Topic 7 - One Touch]



( 32 comments — Leave a comment )
Dec. 12th, 2009 07:17 pm (UTC)
Pet mice, gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs were cute in the apartment, wild rats in the house we bought weren't so cute.
Dec. 14th, 2009 02:49 am (UTC)
Yeah, the wild rodents are definitely less pleasant than the domesticated ones. Thanks for reading!
Dec. 12th, 2009 08:56 pm (UTC)
Aw poor little rodent! I used to have a batshit crazy rat that bit me on every occasion and I still kept it until it died from natural causes :P
Dec. 14th, 2009 02:48 am (UTC)
That's sweet. I worried when I wrote this that I would offend people that kept rodents as pets, but a lot of people have told me even when they had rodents as pets they got bit. Rodents must believe in tough love. Hahaha!

Thanks for reading.
(no subject) - agirlnamedluna - Dec. 16th, 2009 10:10 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 12th, 2009 10:25 pm (UTC)
None of our then 5 cats touched the guinea pigs. Just so's you know.

My husband shares your attitude. Fortunately, on this subject I outrank him.
Dec. 14th, 2009 02:47 am (UTC)
Awwww, poor hubby. rosepurr often outranks me, too, but I think the cat argument prevailed.
Dec. 12th, 2009 11:10 pm (UTC)
Haha to rodents are what real pets eat. Funny. I don't mind rodents and am even considering one for a class pet myself (we had a lizard but it died)...the only reason I hesitate is because I personally don't want a rodent for a pet during summer break.

I'm sorry you got bit.
Dec. 14th, 2009 02:45 am (UTC)
Thanks for reading and the sympathy. I can quite recall what happened to it, but I think it did die during the school year so our teacher didn't have to take care of it over the summer. Perhaps it was a clever plan on her part. :P
Dec. 13th, 2009 11:47 pm (UTC)
A rodent is a rodent, plain and simple. It's nice to remember Tiny, though....what a great pet he was....
Dec. 14th, 2009 02:44 am (UTC)
Tiny was awesome.
Dec. 14th, 2009 01:25 am (UTC)
Awww. I probably would have loved Varmint. I like all sorts of animals, even the little rodents.
Dec. 14th, 2009 02:43 am (UTC)
I like most animals, but rodents don't do much for me. Ah, well.

Thanks for reading.
Dec. 14th, 2009 11:35 am (UTC)
We had a class rat when I was nine. I never took it home but I liked it. Until the last day of term when I stuck my finger through the wire (which I'd done every other day) to stroke it goodbye and the little bastard bit the top of my finer and DAMN THAT FUCKER HURT.
Dec. 14th, 2009 06:34 pm (UTC)
It's amazing how something so small with even smaller teeth can cause a tiny wound that can be SO PAINFUL. I do remember the sting in my fingertip.

Thanks for reading.
Dec. 14th, 2009 05:52 pm (UTC)
My ex boyfiend had a similar story about te class pet when he was a kid. But he was younger (kindergartener) and tried poking the rodent with a pencil and got in trouble (he was seeking revenge). The rodent was fine. I am just glad you didn't seek revenge. I like all critters, big or small...though I prefer to own the larger variety as seen by my fondness of Great Danes :)
Dec. 14th, 2009 06:26 pm (UTC)
No revenge. Even when I was that young, I appreciated that the little thing was more scared than I was. I don't hate them; I just don't like them.

I love our kitties, but I am primarily a dog person. We just don't have the room for one right now. But I would love to have one.

Thanks for reading & commenting.
Dec. 14th, 2009 07:02 pm (UTC)
I know other people like them, but I've always thought they stink SO bad.
Dec. 14th, 2009 08:02 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah, they do. Ferrets are the worst in that regard, though. I had a friend with one and it was horrible.

Thanks for reading.
Dec. 14th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
Oh, yeah. I hate those things too. And oh, yeah, I've been bit by the little bastards. Not fun. But a great entry. :)
Dec. 14th, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
Thank you. :)
Dec. 14th, 2009 09:59 pm (UTC)
Actually, I have had rodents as pets. :D I used to have a population of gerbils and one pet rat. The amusing part of this is that I always mentally identified Terri as a golden hamster.
Dec. 17th, 2009 11:44 pm (UTC)
OH NO!!! Don't tell her that. LOL :)
(no subject) - rosepurr - Dec. 17th, 2009 11:55 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - thndrstd - Dec. 17th, 2009 11:57 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - starfallz - Dec. 21st, 2009 05:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
Dec. 15th, 2009 10:03 am (UTC)
Oh dear! haha.
Dec. 17th, 2009 11:42 pm (UTC)

Thanks for reading.
Dec. 15th, 2009 01:11 pm (UTC)
HAH, I love that it's name was Varmint! That's damn adorable. =D
Dec. 17th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
Thank you, and thanks for reading.
Dec. 15th, 2009 11:40 pm (UTC)
I am not fond of feeling those types of animals either, so I can understand your squirms about them. I am the only brave one to take out mice outside when our cat brings them to any one of us. I guess I know they won't hurt me and mother, and her nursing background and germophobic self, thinks they are germy, but hell I wash my freakin hands afterwards anyways. Dogs and cats are much nicer and cleaner too L OL!
Dec. 17th, 2009 11:45 pm (UTC)
I agree. Huzzah! Always good to find someone who agrees with me. LOL

Thanks for reading.
( 32 comments — Leave a comment )


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