After the Fact: Tartar sauce


Before I forget to tell you about the “mystery snails,” here is the second part in our seaside adventures. When I left off last time, we’d just purchased the small aquarium with one fish to replace the goldfish I’d inadvertently poisoned. Things were going swimmingly. Zander had figured out the “pinch” of fish food measurement and, despite his purple color, the new friend seemed to thrive. We’d purchased a couple of exotic “mystery snails” that traveled up and down the tank walls and across the colored pebbles, keeping the tank spruced up. Until I found the cute little crabs in a tank at the pet store. They were pretty expensive, but I sprung for two: one for Zan’s tank and another for my niece’s much larger aquarium, purchased because she’d not won a goldfish. 

Those little fellows inched sideways around the coral reef and the pirate boat, waving their miniature claws. They’d been guests for a couple of days when I found the empty shell of a snail bobbing up and down in the bubbles. I didn’t associate the demise of the snail with the crab even after a second shell turned up with no inhabitant. While sitting on the sofa next to the aquarium with a book, I caught movement out of the “corner of my eye” and turned to see that carnivorous little monster holding the third (and last) shell in one claw while tearing the defenseless snail into small, bite-sized pieces.

After mentioning it to Micki the next day, she checked Lori’s tank and, lo, there were snail shells, but no snails. Both crabs were sent to a watery grave and the next snails were of a more common and less expensive variety. At one point, Micki and I figured out that the two aquariums plus fish plus snails, etc. ran up a tab at the pet store of a couple of hundred dollars. All because Zander won one dumb goldfish at the carnival.

We haven’t had much success in the exotic pet realm either, such as I consider those furry little things kids promise to take care of and don’t. It may have been a hamster or a gerbil. I can’t tell the difference between many of these rodent species. But I can remember the name: Pumpkin, or, less formally, Punkin. We’d had the little animal for a few months and Chris was doing a fair job of keeping the terrarium clean. It even got to come out to play every now and again, for brief interludes. 

We were “window shopping” in a pet store when Chris found the “liberty ball”, a toy for the little creatures. It was a plastic globe about the size of a kid’s first soccer ball and it came apart into two interlocking pieces. The hamster/gerbil could be placed in the ball where running would cause it to roll around the room. I don’t know whether Punkin enjoyed it but Chris and her little brother thought it was vastly entertaining.

Despite being cautioned to shut the door at the top of the stairs that led down to another level, someone (very possibly me) forgot and, naturally, Punkin went rolling down.  Plunk, plunk, plunk. About 15 stairs worth of “plunk.” The ball came open when it hit the wall at the bottom “turn” and the inhabitant disappeared for a couple of days. When Chris finally found her, she was walking in a sort of sideways tilt. Otherwise, she seemed to be of sound mind (such as a rodent may possess) and body and survived several months thereafter. We didn’t replace her once she’d passed and the liberty ball disappeared into some toy box or closet where it may be still. I expect it to show up in a box of Christmas decorations or lawn supplies sometime and that’s about the soonest I’ll ever have another of those dippy little pets again.

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