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Unusual Pets, Part One

February 27, 2011

We’ve always been pretty much a one-pet-at-a-time household. Growing up, we had the sweet and lovely Valentine as our only four-legged family member for most of the time.

One of the few times when Valentine had a rival for our affections was when I was in 5th grade or so, and his name was Herbie. Herbie was a white mouse, and was likely named after Herbie the Love Bug. I don’t remember how or why we got him, but he was so much fun.

His Habitrail was in the basement, but we would bring him out of his cage and up to the living room with some frequency. There, he would scurry up and down our arms, around our necks, and up and down our pants legs. I don’t recall him ever trying to run away from us when he had his freedom; it seemed as though he was happy to have someone to play with.

I remember having a friend over once, who had long, straight hair. We got Herbie out to play, but she was a little hesitant to play with a mouse (imagine that!). After she got used to feeling his little feet clamber over her hands, she relaxed. Until, that is, Herbie decided to go from her neck to her hair. My imagination in the intervening years may have exaggerated what actually happened, but I seem to remember Herbie holding on to her hair and swinging like Tarzan, while Samantha freaked out.

The sad thing is that white mice don’t have terribly long life spans. I don’t remember how Herbie died, but hopefully it was just his time. I do, however, remember his funeral.

My father used to eat salted cod fish, which came in a small wooden box with a wooden lid that slid open and closed. Once he was done with the fish, he’d air the boxes out in his workroom, and use them for various things.

When Herbie died, Dad went down to the basement, and came back with the best damn casket that any mouse could hope to have. He had taken some of Mom’s scrap fabric, and lined the inside of the box in midnight blue velvet. We carefully laid Herbie into the box, and slid the lid closed.

We traipsed outside, under the big tree just to the side of the house, and there we laid Herbie to rest with a solemn ceremony. We made a cross out of popsicle sticks to mark his grave. Little Herbie probably had the best life – and burial – of any white mouse ever.

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From → Rambling stories

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