Daddy's wisdom or "George and Niles"

When I was a kid, I lived next to a Filipino family. Being Southern California, the fruits and vegetables we didn’t have growing in our backyard were compensated for by what grew in their backyard. It was a veritable jungle back there. Or farm, depending on how you looked at it. I could get lost in that backyard and easily survive for months on end based on what was growing back there. At one point, my neighbors acquired a goat. Not as a pet. For milk. And for…food. Intellectually I knew this. But I was 7 or 8 and it was a cool animal. No one else on our block had a goat. Shoot, no one else that I knew had a goat! It was SO COOL! So we named it. And petted it. And fed it. And played with it. And loved it.

And one day, the goat was gone. I looked everywhere for that goat. I worried that maybe we had left the gate open and he had escaped. Good Lord, we would have been in SO MUCH trouble! I searched and searched and searched. Finally I had to go to my neighbor and tell him that I lost the goat. I headed inside to break the news to them and found them all sitting at the table eating. I explained that I couldn’t find the goat anywhere and was terribly sorry for losing the goat and I would do whatever work was necessary to work off my debt.

They laughed at me. Snickered, actually. And then offered me a plate of meat and some milk. It dawned on me that the goat wasn’t lost. The goat was lunch. I was devastated. I ran home, sobbing, and ran into my dad. He asked what had me so upset and when I explained to him why I was sobbing, all he said to me was, “You can’t name dinner, sweetheart.” He had grown up on a farm and had many of those worthwhile life lessons at his disposal.

Thanks, Dad.

Fast forward to about 27 years. Louie, our chameleon, eats crickets. So we dutifully traipsed down to the pet store and bought the “Bucket o’ Crickets”. The BIG “Bucket o’ Crickets” because Louie is a BIG dude. Noisy little suckers – the crickets... So the “Bucket o’ Crickets” went up on top of the Beer Fridge out back. Which was a splendid place to put them…until the wind picked up. And knocked the “Bucket o’ Crickets” off the top of the Beer Fridge.

And the lid popped off.

And it was a cricket free-for-all.

The crickets, sensing an opportunity to escape their fate as a snack, bounded away as quickly as possible. There were crickets everywhere. Thankfully, they were herded up by a shrieking 5 year old and a screaming 3 year old. They really didn’t get far. It was cricket chaos. We did our best to capture the wayward insects but several got away.

At one point, I had trapped several of the long-jumping insectical (is that a word?) athletes under a bowl and asked Princess Trouble to go get me a piece of paper so I could slide it under the bowl and trap the bugs inside.

ME:“PT, can you please go get me a piece of paper?”

PT“Ok”. (Comes back with a paper bag)

ME:“Honey, I need a piece of paper, not a bag. Can you please go and get me a flat piece of paper?”

PT“Ok.” (Comes back with a corner of a page from her coloring book – about 1 inch by 3 inches)

ME: (trying VERY hard not to laugh at my child who is trying hard on this) “I was thinking more along the lines of an entire sheet of paper. Really, we can afford it. Here, come and hold down this bowl and I will go get a piece of paper.” (Rolls eyes as she walks into the house to snatch up an 8.5 inch by 11 inch piece of construction paper and marvels at the fact that someone so smart can be so dense from time to time.)

We (that would the “Royal We”) managed to round up most of the insectical athletes and get them either back into their canister or into Louie’s cage (hey, it was feeding time for him anyway) but not before several of those noisy suckers met an untimely demise (is there ever such a thing as a “timely demise” for a cricket? I’m not sure...) under Little Man’s dancing feet. Sucks to be them.

I’m not sure how I’d rather go…eaten by a reptile or smooshed under the Croc-clad feet of a hyper 3 year old. What would you choose?

Don’t answer that.

Later in the day, I was chatting with my friend, ‘Nifer (long story, best saved for another day and time, preferably after I’ve had a shot or two…or 6) and I was recounting the “Great Cricket Escape of ‘07” and this led to her telling me the story of “George and Niles”.

George was her Red Tailed Boa Constrictor. George, as most snakes do, ate mice for his meals. Like I said in a previous post, I’m a fan of working pets. Go George! On one occasion, she made the mistake of naming one of the mice. And playing with it. And petting it. (you see where this is going, right?) He was small and white and fluffy and cute – well, as cute as little mice can be. But he was dinner. Not hers but George’s. And, of all of the mice that were fed to George, Niles was the one mouse to “eek!” when the snake had him for dinner. QUICKLY. Fastest meal that snake ever ate. Poor Niles. Poor, poor Niles.

But like my daddy said, “Honey, you can’t name dinner”.

Thanks Dad.


- hfs

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