The Hamster Whisperer Part 1: The CatalystWhen I was around seven years old, I experienced my first deep connection with a non-human creature. It was a mosquito, quite a large one; she’d found her way into my bedroom one hot summer night as I lay reading an Archie comic, and at first, she was not welcome. Being that I was (and still am) afraid of most insects, no matter how benign some may be, I nervously kept one eye on my comic, the other on that huge, scary mosquito. Soon, I knew, that mosquito would be nothing more than a tiny red dot on my wall -- just had to wait until she flew close enough for me to get her. For the better part of an hour, she remained safely on my ceiling, bouncing along the trim in a crazy blood-frenzy, whining, screaming for sustenance, for my blood. She grew more desperate with each passing minute, her whines progressing into am almost mournful crescendo, as if she were shrieking “My babies! Must feed babies! Baaaaaabiiiiiieeeeeesssss!”
Well. She was creeping me out in the worst way, and I just couldn’t take it any more. So I stood on my bed and whacked at her with my Archie comic, but I was too short to hit my mark. Frustrated, I lay back on my pillow and resumed reading, my eye ever watchful, my heart pounding. Then, as if by some direct order from on high, the mosquito silently drifted down along my wall and settled beside me, just inches away. I watched her watching me, and, for the first time in my short life, I became fascinated with an insect -- truly fascinated. I observed her triangular head and odd little proboscis, her delicate legs, the angle at which they were bent. She seemed to be communing with me, her head tilted up as if questioning my irrational fear of her...The more I observed, the stronger my feelings, till I became aware -- very aware. It was like I was entering her soul, realizing her place , her reasons for living and her right to be here, same as me.
I was such a little Buddhist.
But the mosquito decided to take wing once again, squealed about my head in an increasingly angry "gonna gitcha" war dance, and really, that was the straw that broke the Buddhist's zen.
I waited until she settled once again, then slammed her against the wall with my open palm.
Where once this creature flitted and flew, whined and shrieked, full of life and purpose, she was now nothing more than a bloody smudge on Donny Osmond's smiling face.
I mourned her death for about ten minutes, then grabbed a pen and began to write. I had to write, was compelled, as if by some outside force, to write. My first poem was created that night, a poem about death and the sea and tiny insect angels and whatnot. I'm sure it was lovely.
Next week's installment of The Hamster Whisperer will explore my uncanny connection to my daughter's preternaturally intelligent hamster.