Monday, December 19, 2011

A (sort of) Apology to Minga's Poor, Traumatized Children

Poor Minga.

While reading my last post concerning her dead, frozen guinea pig, Minga's daughter walked up to see what she was giggling about. That's when Minga's daughter saw the picture of the guinea pig formerly known as Mumbo, and burst into wet, sobbing tears. Apparently the grief is still as fresh as Mumbo's flash-frozen body.

So I'm here to explain to Minga's traumatized children why I am so callous towards deceased family members.

You must understand that my family growing up held no kind of sentimentality towards pets. Perhaps this was because both of my parents grew up on farms, but me and my sister always understood that if the vet bill got too pricey our lovable ball of fur would soon be heading out to a "farm" in the "country."

Little Snickers was the first animal I remember getting the heave-ho (literally) out the back door. Snickers was a hamster with a surly demeanor. Looking back, I'm fairly certain he had PTSD from being daily menaced by our cat Sox. Sox would prowl around his cage, batting at the lid, even sleeping on top of it sometimes, in case Snickers ever got the urge to go for a midnight stroll.

Anyways, one day Snickers bit my sister and my mom chucked him into the backyard to fend for himself in the wild. She gave him a one day head start on Sox.

None of the pets I had growing up made it with us into old age. Sox was stolen (long story), Sox's daughter Saphire, grew to be so morbidly obese that she started wiping her rear on the carpet because she couldn't reach her hind quarters with her tongue.

It was at this point that my dad took her to the pound and pronounced her: "Dead kitty walking."

Our first dog Katie ran away. I'd like to believe that she ended up in a good home, but in that part of town, the odds are just as good that she ended up in some Vietnamese pho soup. Our second dog Charlie was protected from neuterment by my dad, who couldn't bear the thought of snipping off two critical pieces of Charlie's manhood. This resulted in a constant family evasion of the City of Denver, who charge $100 a year for fertile pets, in what my father derisively calls "the ball tax."

When Charlie went for a little solo jog through the neighborhood and got picked up by animal control, my parents decided they couldn't afford the back taxes on Charlie's balls. There were no more pets after that.

There is also an unwritten rule in my family that you can say or do anything, no matter how hurtful, as long as it is also funny. My sister exploited this fact to get out of spankings; my mom couldn't spank her and laugh at the same time. We learned early on that you can be wildly insensitive, but it's okay if it's funny (unless you call mom's casserole a craperole on Mother's Day, in which case you're in for a world of hurt).

Perhaps I need to give a few examples.  When I was in second or third grade I got six teeth pulled out.My mouth was emptier than Keanu Reeves's head.

The fact that I was sensitive about this issue did not stop my mother from telling me every evening: "Lauren, go brush your tooth."

The rule still persists. Just last week I was feeling kind of down about not having a job or much money. I had decided to make my boyfriend a Christmas gift instead of buying something, but felt like kind of a loser after he gave me a really nice present. My mom, instead of offering the standard "homemade gifts are more personal" or some other mom-ish cliche, ribbed me for a good five minutes about how my macaroni necklace was coming along. This teasing continued well after I shouted for her to go away and hopped in the bathtub to wallow. She heckled me from outside the door.

Her later apology was, "I'm sorry...but it was funny."

I've simply not been well-equipped to handle delicate issues with sensitivity. So to Minga's children, and anyone else I might embarrass in the future, all I have to say is:

I'm sorry but it was funny. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

Thank You Jesus For Mumbo

There are a few facts about me that provoke interesting reactions when people learn them for the first time.

Since I've been blogging regularly, people who are familiar with my writing tend to fall in one of two categories. They either want to be mentioned, no matter the potentially embarrassing context of the story, or they're terrified I'm going to make them look stupid.

I just spent an evening with a friend, (let's call her "Minga") who was absolutely paranoid that I was mentally recording her ever misstep for blogging material. To be fair, she did accidentally say a few hilarious things, like: "I have two party balls" and "I'm very familiar with women," but really I probably would have forgotten if she hadn't made such a big deal about it. I coach basketball, and it's not a real practice unless there's a good ball joke.

Grab the balls, take care of the ball, keep the balls below your waist... The permutations are endless. A silly remark won't get you blogged about.

Keeping a dead guinea pig in your freezer will.

A group of us were chilling in Minga's dining room, laughing, talking, the usual party-going stuff, when three of our friends walked in from the kitchen solemnly.

Bijou was in the front, holding a blue shoebox. Something was scribbled on the box in Sharpie and I tried to make it out as she announced:

"I have to show you guys something." A voice from behind her shouted,
"Wait! I have to get my camera."
"Hurry up!" Bijou said. Kish bounded to the front and clicked record as Bijou lifted the shoebox lid to reveal a dead guinea pig.

We laughed and screamed and asked why.

This was Mumbo, Minga's beloved family pet. Mumbo had died sometime during the summer and it just never seemed like the right time to bury him. So, he'd taken up residence in the freezer, right between the peas and frozen lemonade.

I touched Mumbo and he was chilled and ready to serve.

On the box Minga's daughter had written a little account of his life and exploits, ending with "Thank you Jesus for Mumbo."

I turned to Minga.
"You're going to blog about this, aren't you?" She asked.
"Oh, most definitely. Thank you Jesus for Mumbo."