October 16, 2011

Every child wants a pet, but hamsters make terrible pets.

Hamsters can't be housebroken. They nest is nasty sawdust. They are nocturnal rodents. They bite. If you have more than one hamster, then the hamsters will fight. For example, we had two hamsters at one time, "Shakespeare" and "Hamlet." Shakespeare decapitated Hamlet. Although this sad event led to many family jokes about Shakespeare not liking his work, the incident had a profound effect on me, a thin-skinned toddler.

My parents eventually wised up and got a Poodle.

Suburban Chicago, November 1960. My Mom introduces me to my first pet, a hamster. We are sitting in the living room. The piano is behind me, to my left. My Mom has returned from work because she is wearing her "stay-at-home" clothes, namely, a skirt, stockings, and sweater. She often put on an apron when she came back from the office because she'd wash the dishes after my paternal Grandmother, Tatjana, cooked dinner.

Many women back then wore aprons around the house, but few women spent the day doing what my Mom did: practicing medicine.

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