On Hamsters and Apocalypse Prevention

Sometimes I read back through my blog posts and wonder about how they come across to people who (a) don’t know me at all, (b) don’t know me very well, or (c) know me pretty well but never laughed when I made a joke because they either (1) didn’t get it or (2) didn’t think I was funny. I then realized that my blog is suffering from the same thing my life has suffered from, which is namely that while I am actually very funny (and also very weird), many people think I’m cold, humorless, and self-important because I am too chicken to own my weirdness.

It’s a tough line to walk. Sure, I could give people the background context that would help them realize that my ranting and raving is usually tongue-in-cheek and self-mocking (unless I’m defending human rights like clean water and gender equality—those rants do tend to spill sincerely out like the guts of a drawn martyr), but I imagine most people would be put off if I introduced myself by saying, “Hi! My name is Melissa. My favorite people have always been the ones who put their ponytails on the front of their heads and pretend to be unicorns, and who have meaningful conversations in nonsense speak, and who randomly burst into made-up song and dance. Also, my mother and sisters and I used to lick each others faces.”

All of which is completely true, but combined with my shy awkwardness around people I don’t yet trust, such a context-free statement would probably cast me as a serial killer waiting to happen. So I leave out the details and carry on feeling unfunny and sad about how few kindred spirits I have found in the course of my life.

This is why I married John. Not because I was feeling sad and unfunny and lonely, although he is an excellent remedy for all of these things, but because he is as insanely funny as I am and also shy enough to get the whole debilitating fear of humiliating oneself in front of people whose opinion shouldn’t matter but does. And when we are together, it’s okay if the weirdness gets up and runs away because it will not be dangerously misunderstood.

This point was brought home to me the other night as John and I were getting ready for bed. We had watched The Fountain a few days before, which inevitably got us talking about death and burial preferences. For the record, I want to be cremated and put in a beautiful wooden box and buried at the foot of a cherry tree somewhere in sight of a river. This plan is largely built on the success of our plan to be wildly rich and use our money to build a magical hippy farm where we can live off the land, make art, and mentor teenagers who also like to make art and live off the land. It is also built on the presupposition that it will be okay to bury the ashes of a human on private property near a body of water, so my plans may yet be dashed by poverty and health codes.

Anyway, with no context that I can remember, John asked me as we were eating supper if I would want to plant trees above the body of our cats, which led to a horrible round of jokes than I won’t repeat here because my sister will never let us have them back when we move. I really couldn’t answer the question, but it reminded me of the only pet corpse I recall my family burying, which was a hamster. I still remember the spot in the woods behind our house that we marked with a little cross made of twigs . I’m also pretty sure that my youngest sister kept digging the box up to make sure it was still there, but that may have been a weird dream that somehow turned into memory.

This memory led to a discussion of hamsters in general, which led to another seemingly random question, which led to the conversation that reminded me why I love my husband so very much.

John: How do you tell what gender a hamster is?

Me: You read the little label on the cage at the pet store.

John: Okay, but what if you weren’t at a pet store and you needed to know?

Me: Why would I ever need to know the gender of a hamster?

John: Well, what if the fate of the world depended on it?

Me: …We’re all gonna die.

John: (laughs)

Me: Seriously. If the fate of the world ever comes down to the ability of Melissa Walshe to determine the gender of a hamster, I’m not sure it deserves to be saved.

John: Oh! Maybe there should be a scale. How critical is it that Melissa know how to sex a hamster? Zero, everything is peachy. Ten, abandon hope.

We carried on like this for a while, eventually concluding that the scale might swing in the other direction as well. If I ever feel like my own well-being is dependent on being able to determine a hamster’s gender, it’s possible that the world is doing marvelously, because I clearly having nothing more important to worry about.

And now I’ve forgotten my point in telling this story….Oh, right. If a post ever sounds serious and doesn’t involve the defense human rights, just remember that the post was written by the sort of person who is inclined to laugh hysterically about things like the Hamster-Sexing Apocalpyse Scale. If the post still makes you feel blown over by seriousness and doesn’t make you laugh at all, that’s okay. At least my husband thinks I’m funny.

3 thoughts on “On Hamsters and Apocalypse Prevention

  1. Melissa
    It is so easy to see you and John having this conversation. Isn’t it a wonderful thing that the two of you found each other. And, yes your posts are very funny….they always make me laugh and chuckle. I felt quilty laughing out loud at the ‘falling down and hurting your knee’ post……sorry
    Love ya


  2. I too laughed at this post. The idea of seeing you and John sitting together having this conversation made me laugh even more!! Did Sammy really keep digging it up? Sounds so her in one way, but really? She is so germ phobic!
    Love you!


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