Tuesday, March 22, 2016

The Answer is 'Uhhh'

The other day, I bought Teddy a new toy, a little stuffed hedgehog wearing overalls that grunts instead of squeaking. You might know the kind of toys I mean. I've been buying stuffed hedgehogs for various dogs since 1996. My dogs loved their hedgies and I loved the replacement of the squeaker inside with the breathy grunt. Uhhh. It was a happy sound, even when the toy itself was being eviscerated, fluff flying and entrails, the squeaker mechanism, strewn half out of its poor hedgie body. I still love that sound.

Does anyone know if real hedgehogs make sounds? I knew someone once who had an actual pet hedgehog and it didn't make any noise the one time I saw it. I remember wondering if this new acquaintance, the woman, not the hedgehog, was rather strange and whether I could judge her personality based on her choice of pets. Why would anyone want to have a pet that you had to be careful petting to keep from being skewered? I've never trusted a snake man and I've never even bothered with anyone who would have a spider. I could barely trust the rat man though I tried and it eventually poisoned any chance of my hanging out with him. The rat circus at the renaissance faire helped me regarding rats, but there is still part of me that judged that pretty girl based on her choice of rats as trainees. Yes, I'll admit that I'm a pet bigot. If the pet is exotic, or in my terms, strange, the person hosting them might reflect that. I'm a dog person. And I like cats, mostly.

I'm very sorry if there are warm and friendly people out there who have pet snakes. I try not to be a pet bigot, but it's a failing of mine. Steve Irwin went a long way toward making me think snake people could be okay, but he went and got himself killed by a stingray and he kind of undid some good work.

I still miss Steven Irwin. Nick was a big fan and when he was a baby, the Steve Irwin toy went into the bathtub multiple times and still said, "Have a look at this little beauty," so I kind of equate Steve Irwin with a little miracle that happened over and over in our household every night at bath time. Somehow, I always figured Steve Irwin was an exception to the strange-pet rule, mostly though I never met Steve Irwin in person to judge.

Toy hedgehogs? Right, sorry. I drifted off there for a minute.

So, I was standing in the living room, stepping repeatedly on Teddy's current hedgie and trying to get Teddy to play when I casually asked Nick a question, "How was school today?" He had settled onto the couch and gotten involved with his video game.

From his spot? Silence.

I rocked mindlessly back and forth on the hedgie. "Uhhh," it said. Teddy didn't move from his spot under the coffee table.

I tried again. "Do you have any homework tonight?" I asked. Nick said nothing, just made brief yet friendly eye contact before continuing with his game.

I leaned forward and pressed on the hedgie again. "Huh," it said.

By now, I was on a roll. I have learned to entertain myself in the face of video-game loneliness.

"Do you have any plans to see friends this weekend?" Just then, Mike walked into the room and heard at least one of my questions.

I immediately pressed on the hedgie's neck. "Mmmm," it said.

I walked over to Mike and leaned in for a kiss. "Did you have a good day at work?" I asked.

"Uhhh," he said, perfectly mimicking the hedgie, with a grin on his face.

Thank you for listening, jb

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