A Saga of Pets
I am going to use Rabbit Hole Day for a slightly different purpose: to talk about an aspect of my life on which I am usually silent. Silent? Dawn?? Yes. Because this aspect of my life is bizarre, and I sometimes suspect that no one would believe me. Since it is Rabbit Hole Day, you are welcome to believe that I am, in fact, making all of this up. But I assure you that it is true.
I have lost track of how many pets I have. I speak often of Alex and my cast of fish that constantly changes as some die, more are bought, and the new ones eat each other. The crux of my problem is that my pets insist on having pets. Each pet in my house has a pet. In fact, I am someone's pet. So is Bobby. Every living creature in my apartment has a pet and is someone's pet.
It all began about four years ago when Bobby and I made the mistake of going to Ocean City in January. During the middle of the week. When there is nothing to do. While strolling the Boardwalk, wrapped in coats and scarves, for the dozenth time, we happened upon a man walking a most-curious little white dog on a leash.
Only it wasn't a dog.
Upon closer look, the little white dog had a golden--albeit somewhat tarnished--protrusion from the top of its head. It was balking on the leash, and the sound its feet made on the boards was not the tick-tick-tick of canine toenails but a clop-clop-clop of hooves.
We tried not to stare, but it's hard, when you see a man walking a tiny unicorn on the Ocean City Boardwalk in January.
He noticed our attention and put on a winning smile. "Greetings, folks!" he chortled, clapping his hands. By now, the unicorn had the leash completely twisted around the man's legs and was lying on the boards, panting. "Do I have the opportunity for you--"
He went on to explain that the "creature presented here today" was "very rare indeed." Apparently, the belligerent unicorn was a miniature Arctic long-haired unicorn--a yearling stallion--hence the thick white coat. "What is an Arctic unicorn doing here?" I asked, reaching out to pet the little critter, who pinned his ears and turned up his lip at me. Come to find out, miniature Arctic long-hairs--especially stallions--tend to be aggressive.
I know because we ended up walking away with the unicorn.
Don't ask how! It is embarassing to admit the feats of persuasion that this man pulled, most notably that he was willing to part with the little unicorn for only $10. I later learned that this is because--despite legends to the contrary that unicorns are noble, graceful creatures--unicorns are stubborn, nasty, foul-mouthed beings. Especially miniature Arctic long-hairs.
As I was in my first throes of Silmarillion fever, I naturally named the unicorn "Maedhros," which was shortened over time to "Nelyo." Nelyo adjusted well enough over time. I learned how to groom a miniature Arctic long-hair, and he eventually stopped marking everything in the apartment. But Nelyo wasn't really thriving, and mostly, he laid around and panted. (He claims that this is because he has a hot, heavy coat of hair, not because he is overweight and out-of-shape from laying around so much.) I did a bit of reading on unicorns.com and discovered that miniature Arctic long-hairs are herd creatures. They live in large groups on the tundra, foraging or stealing what they can for food (in some places, special garbage cans have to be employed because miniature Arctic long-hairs will organize and upset them to steal old food scraps and sodden paper towels, which they also like to eat). They mate once per year, in the spring, and in the late summer, the parents build a nest into which the mare lays one or two eggs that they must protect over the winter to hatch the following spring. Miniature Arctic long-hairs don't necessarily mate for life; they are unpleasant creatures by nature, and when dealing with one's mate becomes troublesome, they simply seek a new mate elsewhere.
It became fairly clear that Nelyo was lonely. The next summer, at the Maryland State Fair, we found our fortune: One could win pet unicorns at a booth, just for smashing bags of air with a hammer. Bobby successfully smashed a bag of air, and we won a tiny blue unicorn. Unfortunately, they were eager to get rid of the unicorns and insisted that we take two, so we ended up with a green one as well.
Those were Hape and Fin; unfortunately, it became relatively apparent that they were also stallions. And they were not miniature Arctic long-hairs. No, they were miniature arboreal unicorns, and as Hape and Fin grew, we discovered that they were not as unpleasant as Nelyo. In fact, they often wagged their little tails with joy. One day, Hape wagged his little tail so hard that his whole body lifted off of the ground and we discovered the unfortunate fact about miniature arboreals: despite their pleasant dispositions, they fly.
And this is where the scheme of pets began. Nelyo was my pet. Hape--who has a bit of an attitude problem--refused to be Nelyo's pet, so Fin became Nelyo's pet, and Hape became Fin's pet. For the moment, all was in order.
Then Meryth came along.
Meryth is not a unicorn. Meryth is an Elf. Or rather, he is three-quarters of one Elf and one-quarter of one Human, in his own words. Meryth I got through an Adopt-a-Muse program, which I thought was supposed to be like a Big Brother, Big Sister program for muses who had been giving their authors hard times and could use some positive role models as to where the muse functions in the authorial relationship. Having dealt with Fëanor, I was pronounced qualified to participate in the program. Apparently, Meryth liked to shoot expensive fruit of off his previous author's head. The shooting, I learned, was not the problem so much as the cost of the fruit. Like pineapples, out of season.
I did not realize that this was a permanent live-in program--fine print in long-lost Elven languages be damned!--until Meryth showed up at our door in a cloak, with a bow and quiver strapped to his back, and two freshly killed rabbits hanging from his belt, eyeing up the organic oranges that Bobby had bought just that morning. Nelyo, who famously had terrible clashes with Hape, fell in love with Meryth. Meryth became the one to groom him, bathe him, and feed him, so that was not a bad thing, as Nelyo tends to be picky about all of these things. And Meryth is pleasant enough. Perhaps he likes me better than his prior author because he's never tried to shoot fruit off of my head, expensive, out-of-season or otherwise. The most annoying thing that he has done is insist that I allow him his own LJ. meryth, if you don't believe me.
Now, the pet count was up to four--counting Meryth as a pet--soon to be five because Meryth's not-really-an-uncle Uncle Felak came to live with us too, having been kicked out of his prior home under circumstances I am not willing to disclose here. Suffice to say that Felak's reputation was...erm...questioned. But Nelyo, our original pet, was still lonely. All of these pets and all males.
Nelyo was outside one day, walking with Meryth to pick up a pizza, and he caught sight of a glimpse of white in the woods behind our apartment. For the next five days, Nelyo relentlessly trumpeted from the balcony, convinced that it was a miniature unicorn female. Miniature Arctic long-hairs might be small, but their trumpeting is loud...and very annoying.
One day, at last, she came forth and met him on the grass. Unfortunately, it was very clear that she was a wild unicorn...and she had mange, so she was half-bald. Nonetheless, Nelyo courted her. He brought her food, which she ate, regurgitated, and ate again. Nelyo was grossed out but not dissuaded. When August came, Nelyo built a nest under the futon, and the female unicorn--called Flour--moved in with us.
Flour is just a common miniature long-hair, and she is not particularly lovely, being of a rather dusty gray color. She also hides from all of the Humans/Elves except Meryth, who is charged with taking her to PetClip, the groomer, every few weeks to treat her skin condition and always ends up with his arms bitten to pieces. Nelyo and Flour quickly grew to hate each other--being about equally unpleasant--so Nelyo is back to sleeping in our bed, on top of my head. He builds a nest out of my hair every night and growls whenever I roll over.
So this is the current scheme of pets.
Bobby's pet is Alex.
Alex's pet is me.
My pet is Nelyo.
Nelyo's pet is Meryth.
Meryth's pet is Flour.
Flour's pet is Felak.
Felak's pet is Fin.
Fin's pets are the fish.
The fish's pet is Hape.
And Hape's pet is Bobby.
And unfortunately, this is all true.