“Mommy, have you written articles about everyone in our family?” Holly asked me yesterday morning.
“Well, not feature stories. It wouldn’t be professional to write features about our family. But I’ve written essays about everyone in our family.”
“Tim and me?” she asked.
“Of course, You’ve seen them.”
“What about Daddy?”
I’ve known “Daddy” for 23 years. Rest assured that he’s made plenty of appearances under my byline during that time.
In fact, I wrote just a month after Belle’s arrival how much I was enjoying the presence of our newly adopted dog.
“What about Fluffy?”
Ah, Fluffy. “Well, no,” I admitted. “I don’t think I’ve ever written about Fluffy.”
“You should,” Holly said with concern. “I don’t want her to feel left out.”
Hmmmm. To paraphrase the opening of Love Story, what can you say about a pet guinea pig who really neither adds nor detracts anything of note from family life? She’s so different from the rest of us. We two adults, two children and one dog teem with activity. We eat, we play, we have conversations, we even sleep in particular ways. Fluffy just…just goes about being Fluffy.
Still, Holly’s right. I shouldn’t neglect to write about this smallest and most easily overlooked member of our family. So….Fluffy. Holly loves Fluffy in her own way. She likes to talk about Fluffy and write about Fluffy. She just doesn’t do much in the way of taking care of Fluffy. I do. I refill her food and water dispensers; I clean out her cage once a week. Fluffy always gets held by someone in the family during cage-cleaning time, so she’s assured of that human interaction – and a fresh carrot – at least once a week. And since her cage is in my home office, she and I spend plenty of time in each other’s company. Yet I’m not sure I could think of three adjectives to describe her personality. I’m not even entirely sure she has a personality.
But as Holly says, I can’t go on forever without writing anything about Fluffy. Ah,
Fluffy. What can I say? She has bright eyes and a smooth coat. She sometimes tears around her cage in mad laps of running, though more often she just kind of huddles. She seems happy enough. For a while she was very sick, and I thought we’d soon lose her, but then she inexplicably recovered. Her thinned-out coat grew back in, and she stopped lying on her side and then being unable to right herself again: the turtle move, we called it, during those weeks that she would sometimes flail on her back until I scooped her up and set her right.
Although I didn’t feel too bad then about the idea of losing her, there was something so inspiring about her recovery. We did so little to facilitate it. I brought her to the vet, but no particular treatment was recommended. Fluffy just somehow rallied, and came back more spirited than ever. She runs laps like she used to. She squeaks with astounding volume whenever I open the closet door; apparently the little Pavlov knows that’s where her food is kept. She submits willingly to being lifted and held every Sunday during cage-cleaning time.
Fluffy is a good pet. She’s not a pal to us, like the dog is, but she is in her own little rodent-y way a nice addition to the household. She’s generally calm and quiet, looking out at the world with a bright-eyed stare. She seems to fit in just fine these days.