We are wealthy with hamsters. Some families have no hamsters at all (which must leave a real hole in your heart). We have nine hamsters. Let me explain.
As luck would have it, there is some sort of Cone of Fertility that hangs over our little home. Here, under the Cone of Fertility, one little acorn leads to a thousand trees. One little kiss leads to a thousand kids. And one little hamster? Welcome to America's fastest-growing city: Hamsterdam.
Two weeks before Thanksgiving, the little guy received a dwarf hamster as a gift from one of his big brother's friends. Dwarf hamsters, as you might guess, are the Mini Coopers of the breed, smaller than regular hamsters and almost toylike.
"Why a hamster?" the little girl asked.
"Because they were all out of skunks," I guessed.
One of the new varmint's first acts was to bite my wife -- so we had that in common. (If she were any sweeter, she'd be a Godiva store.)
The hamster's second act was to run with reckless abandon in his little hamster wheel. Humans have jobs, hamsters have little wheels in which they run round and round, getting nowhere. Same principle.
"He's so cute," the lovely and patient older daughter noted.
"Can we oil that wheel?" I later ask, since the squeaky wheel tends to go all night. Squeak. Squeak. From down the hall, I can hardly hear myself gasp for oxygen, the way I usually do all night long.
"I already oiled it," Posh explained with a shrug.
Apparently, hamster wheels are designed to squeak. It adds to the hamster's sense of purpose.
Squeak, squeak . . . squeak, squeak, squeak. I could barely hear the lovely and patient older daughter come in at 3 in the morning.
Little did I realize our hamster was preparing for a long and painful labor. I assume it was painful, because women are always describing childbirth that way. Wimps. I mean, childbirth can't be worse than the killer hangover I had after the USC-UCLA game. Or the soreness I experienced after moving the older daughter's stuff home. An IKEA bed frame is made primarily of old sponges and balsa wood. But moving 400 crates of shoes will really catch up with a guy.
Anyway, on Thanksgiving morning, the hamster gave birth to eight little peanut-sized babies. I assume it was a natural delivery, since no doctor was on duty. Till that moment, we were pretty sure she was a he.
"Oh, my God," Posh said, as if God has anything to do with hamster births. I'm pretty sure he keeps busy easing human suffering or answering the prayers of all those "American Idol" contestants.
"Oh, my God," said the little guy.
"Oh, my God," said everyone who saw the hamster cage.
That's the day Hamsterdam was founded. Hamsterdam, population 9 ("The City That Never Sleeps").
At the yard sale that weekend, we put up a sign offering "FREE BABY HAMSTERS. FREE!" and got one offer. Since then, Posh has been running one of the world's most sophisticated hamster-human dating services, trying to match up the baby hamsters with potential homes.
As with any adoption, it is a careful process. The interview consists of, "Hey, you want a hamster?" Along with the free hamster, she is offering $100 rebates.
She palmed off one on the little guy's kindergarten class and two more to our friends Dan and Tina. Arranging hamster adoptions would be easier, were hamsters not prone to the three B's: biting, burrowing and breeding.
From what I can tell, that's all hamsters do, and when they're burrowing, they're doing more than burrowing, if you get my drift. There is booze involved and thick, throaty promises that won't be kept. In that sense, it is much like college.
You think Lindsay Lohan has issues with impulse control? Well, then you've never met a hamster. Nothing breeds this prolifically unless it has no other endearing characteristics or survival skills. Hamsters are like Subway franchises. They don't need to be good, as long as they are everywhere in numbers that exceed their actual worth.
On the plus side, I have nine new mouths to feed, and I think that finally makes us eligible for food stamps. If this Cone of Fertility doesn't lift soon, I'll be taking birth control pills myself, just to be safe.
One of our next tasks here in Hamsterdam is to separate the brothers and sisters before they can hook up among themselves. Other than their tiny Gucci bags and a keen eye for wall paint, it's nearly impossible to tell the hamster sexes apart.
At our recent yard sale, a woman experienced in such things insisted that separating the girls from the boys isn't so tough. All you need is a magnifying glass, a strong flashlight and a big glass of wine.
"The females look like . . . exclamation marks," the woman explained.
Why am I not surprised.
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