Hamsters and burning pigs
At the mall last week I saw a little boy that must have three or four years old. He was wearing glasses and talking nearly non stop to the adults dragging him along. I think it's safe to assume they were his parents since they had mastered complete indifference to whatever he was saying. He reminded me of myself at that age a little. The tiny little glasses. The font of information being wasted an otherwise numb family.
Yes, except for the fact he was blond this kid would grow up to be me one day. Unappreciated for the facts he's already collecting like other kids collect baseball cards. "Look at me" I wanted to say. "I am your future and I might at as well tell you right now that they don't care how smart you are".
He didn't hear me but he must have sensed me looking at him. He looked up and our eyes met and he said "A cat will eat baby hamsters if they are out. It's only natural" It seemed random. . But it wasn't. I knew what it was.
I picture at some point recently the little blond me had been lax in his hamster care and had left the top a little too loose and the babies escaped. He found them of course but not before the cat did. The cat, not used actually killing and eating prey didn't know what to do after the catching part. The mangled hamster corpses were found the next day. Maybe they had even been presented as a gift to the family.
Distraught over and maybe a little curious about his little dead pet he presented it to his mother. She explained to him the circle of life ending with a phrase she hoped would give him peace and ease his guilt a little. "A cat will eat baby hamsters if they are out. It's only natural" she explained. When he thought more about the dead rodents he would repeat this to himself so the healing could begin.
Not having the time to tell me the entire story but sensing I may be interested and that he only had a few seconds at most he chose the last line to blurt out. It was in fact the perfect line to say to convey the entire story, teach his audience, me, a little something and possibly make my life better. It was beautiful in its simplicity. I gave him a thoughtful nod and he continued being dragged in the opposite direction but now he had a proud look on his face.
As I walked on through the mall a thought occurred to me and I had the urge to find the kid and warn him as his future self. "It's not always cute saying out loud what's going on in your head!" I wanted to tell him. Saying a line from an inner musing when you're four years old is cute but saying a line from your inner musing when you're forty can come across as creepy.
For example. A friend had just told me that growing up he had seen an old tv show called In Search Of hosted by Leonard Nimoy. The show would pick a topic that was a myth or something supernatural like witches, the loch ness monster or Aliens and then add creepy music and go "In Search Of" evidence. I used to watch the show all the time and remember being scared to death by a story on bigfoot described to me by Spock.
If I had a fear from tv or movies it was always something that could get me and harm me. Like spiders or monsters. My friend however was haunted by the show about Spontaneous Human Combustion.
"What?" I asked "that's just crazy. When have you ever heard of anyone just bursting into flames?"
"It can happen, Steven and there's nothing you can do about it. It just happens. That's why it's called spontaneous. Your family or neighbors come home and all they see is a burnt chair and your feet and hands on the floor" It was obvious he was still a little scared of it.
As it turns out Spontaneous Human Combustion is something I know a little bit about. Unfortunately something came up and I didn't get to tell him that it wasn't really spontaneous after all and since he didn't smoke it was easier to avoid bursting into flames than it was to avoid killer bees or African zombies. Two other In Search Of shows that had scared the crap out of me.
I read an article or heard an article or watched a show that explained that the people thought to have spontaneously combusted had actually caught themselves on fire, probably accidently, and had slowly burned down to nothing but feet.
Though humans tend to think themselves mostly inflammable one scientist, I'll call him Bill discovered that since most of the subjects were smokers and many had drinking problems. This helped support the idea that they accidently caught themselves on fire. Bill found out that if our bodies catch on fire even a little the melting fat will wick up through the fibers of our clothes making us burn like tallow candles. The alcohol makes us burn faster or helps us to light up in the first place.
For most people that's the interesting part. For me the interesting part was finding out that Bill used pigs to confirm this experiment. I guess they have the same basic body make up as people do. Picture it though. Bill stopped by a farm and picked up a pig on the way to the laboratory. To properly recreate the scenario there had to be alcohol so he got it drunk. There had to be fibers for the wick effect so it had to have clothes. Since a pig can't wear pants I'm sure he used a nice sun dress. Probably something from JC Penney with a floral print. Then he flipped a cigarette at it and tried to catch it on fire.
Add some blue eye shadow and chipped nail polish and it's what we used to refer to in Missouri as the third date.
This is what was going through my head when the little blond boy said "A cat will eat baby hamsters if they are out. It's only natural". Luckily I've developed a filter so I don't look creepy otherwise my response would have been "A drunk pig in a dress will burn if you get it drunk".