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Snapping turtles and worms were no longer on my desireable pet list, therefore other candidates were required to take their place.
I needed an exotic pet, and kept my eye out for possibilities. We had Wolfy, Thomason Jefferson Lincoln Lee Cat, and Cotton Kitten, but they fell into the unexotic dog and cat categories.
Crayfish hid in the neighborhood stream if you knew where to look. Once I realized they shot out backwards when their rock was lifted, I found and caught six. Their little pincers pinched like the baby lobsters they imitated, and hurt more than a little bit. I made them a new home from an empty painted-turtle bowl and set them in the corner of our front porch where they wouldn’t get boiled by the sun.
They should have been happy.
I brought them a lunch of dead flies only to discover that four had climbed out. Three didn’t get far, and I put them back, careful to grab them from the back. I squatted down and scanned the porch for the missing crayfish.
I rocked back on my heels and heard a crunch. I felt the crunch too. I didn’t want to look. I prayed for an acorn to be under my foot. I lifted my sandal and found the fourth runaway.
Just great, I was a murderer before reaching my double digits. My future was doomed. I’d be lucky to get into Purgatory, let alone Heaven.
“I’m sorry,” I tearfully told the other crayfish. “Please forgive me. It was an accident.”
I felt the disapproving eyes of God and my guardian angel looking at the squished crayfish on the porch and its tiny juice-spot stuck on the bottom of my sandal. I returned the remaining five to their stream, unaware that Snappy was waiting to eat them.
Crayfish make slightly better pets than snapping turtles or worms, but I don’t recommend them. What I really needed was a monkey.
A few days later: “Can I have a stamp?” I asked Mom.
“What do you need a stamp for?”
“I’m ordering some sea-monkeys.”
“What? What are you talking about?”
I showed Mom the sea-monkey ad in the back of my comic book. “Look, it’s a whole family. And it says I can train them to do tricks. They need a good home.”
“They aren’t real,” explained Mom. “Some companies fool kids like you into wasting their money.”
“Well, they look real to me. And it’s my money. I can do what I want with it.”
“Then buy your own stamp,” said Mom.
That evening, I gave Dad my envelope with $1.25 of loose change jingling in the bottom.
“They’re probably mosquito larvae,” he said.
I pleaded, and he put my envelope in his briefcase.
I watched the mail expectantly for over a month; no sea-monkey family. I now suspect that Dad or Mom had $1.25 extra coffee money.
A couple months later: “Mom, can I have a stamp?”
“Good gravy, what are you up to now?”
“I’m sending away for a miniature monkey that’s so tiny he can fit inside a cup.”
I showed Mom the comic book ad. “And this time it isn’t a drawing, like the sea-monkey family. It’s a real photograph. And he’s free.”
Mom took my comic book and actually read the ad, giving me false hope. I looked forward to sneaking my monkey into school, inside my pocket. He’d be more fun than wet sea-monkeys and I could dress him up in doll clothes. Maybe I’d get two monkeys.
“This is another scam,” Mom informed me. “When you get older and have your own house, you can buy all the real monkeys you want.”
“You just wait, I will.”
“Good, I hope you have a whole house full. You kids and your father are monkeys enough for me.”
Why wait a hundred years to get my own house when a baby monkey needed a home now? I snuck a stamp and put my envelope in the mailbox. My free monkey never arrived.
The sea-monkey and tea-cup monkey ads eventually disappeared from the back of comic books, proving we should have sent for them while they were still available.
Lesson learned: Never put off until tomorrow (or whenever you get your own house) what you can do (or send for) today.
Related posts: Pandemonium Trail/Turtle Thief
Now it’s your turn: What pet did you have that didn’t work out?
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