My wife and Chinchillas

E arly on in our relationship it became very clear that my wife had an absurd love of animals.  And worms.  And rocks that we had become familiar with.  And mold that reminded her of something.  Basically anything that could be even remotely construed as a “pet.”  This comes from her upbringing in a house where every car had not just a name, like Yougurt, Frank, etc., but also a background story.  This got so out of control that one day Robyn and her sister arbitrarily decided that the downstairs bathroom would be named FredTedFredTedFredTedFred.  They made a sign and posted it on the bathroom door, and it still hangs there to this day even though they are in their early 30’s.  Oh, and for about two years of her childhood life she was convinced she was a unicorn.  In every picture from this period she sports a paper unicorn horn on her forehead and shoes on both hands as well as her feet.  It’s weird. 

Now, most of the time I just smile and chuckle about this ridiculousness, but other times it really gets on my freaking nerves.  Particularly when she and her sister get together.  We went on this hiking trip in Cornwall, and every day we hiked between five and ten miles across this amazing countryside.  Now, a five mile hike shouldn’t take more than, say five freaking hours if you really, and I mean really drag that crap out and stop for lunch.  That’s one mile an hour, and at that speed you have to make sure one foot is solidly on the ground at all times or the earth will bloody rotate out from under you.  It typically took us between six and eight hours to cover that distance, stopping every five paces, because Robyn or her sister would see “the best whatever ever.”  So we’d walk five feet, and Robyn would see a snail.  (They love snails…) 

Robyn:  Awwwwwww!  Meg, look! 

Meg:  Awwwww, it’s so cute!

Robyn:  I know!  Eeeeeeeeeeee!

Meg:  Eeeeeeeee!

Then we take pictures.  Then we stare at it for a while.  Then, we walk three feet and see the next “best snail ever.”  Because every snail is “the best snail ever.”  All of them.  And my will to live crumbles. 

But this love of everything is not always a benign thing.  Many times in my life I have been prompted to attempt to murder my wife as a result of her self-assumed role as Grand High Priestess of the Forest Creatures, as quite often this attitude conflicts with my pragmatic and goal-oriented temperment.  For instance, I think I have mentioned before the fact that this dumpster house we used to rent became briefly infested with mice.  Now I don’t particularly like hurting little creatures, particularly little fuzzy things, but these particular little fuzzy things were sampling my noodles, crapping in my bowls, screwing in the general area of my pots and pans, and yes, even BIRTHING in my closet space.  So I handled it the same way I’d handle a pair of dirty little Boulder neo-hippies porking in my personal space because they think the world should be their little irresponsibility playground.  I killed them. 


That didn’t go over too well in my house.

Robyn:  We have to do something about these mice.

Me:  I know.  Yesterday I caught two of them screwing in our serving dish.  I’m putting out traps. 

Robyn:  WHAT!?  You can’t do that, that’s horrible!

Me:  No, it’s effective.  There’s a difference.

Robyn:  No, no, no.  I don’t support that.  Ben, seriously.  I’ll go to the store and get a bunch of tupperware, and we’ll put everything we have in it so they can’t get to the food.  Then they’ll go away.

Me:  Listen, I know you want to save the world, but we’ve ALREADY gone to incredible lengths to save these things from an untimely death.  That time is over.  They have to die. 

(We had been catching our cat wandering around the hat, happy as could be, with mice dangling by their little tails out of her mouth .  For some reason, rather than letting nature take its course, Robyn had insisted that I take the still-living mouse/prize away from her, ruining her good time and punishing her for doing her  JOB, and throw it outside.  Which I did.  And then promptly watched it scurry a few feet down the side of the house, wedge itself up under the siding, and back into the  house.  {f-word}.)

Robyn:  No.  I won’t allow it.

Me:  So you’d rather live with rice turds on your lasagne than deal with a fuzzy little corpse?  That’s stupid. 

Robyn:  You’re a monster.    

I can’t tell you how many of our conversations have ended like that.  Me laying down the cold, hard truth, and her calling me a monster and stalking off.  Like when we first moved to Charleston and we decided to make good on the agreement that when we got our first jobs we’d get a cat.

Me:  Hey, let’s go down to the animal shelter today and look at cats.

Robyn:  What do you mean, “look at cats”? 

Me:  I mean, “look at cats.”  We can see if there’s anything there we’d like.

Robyn:  (looking incredulous)  You can’t just go “look at cats.”  If you go there, you have to take one home!

Me:  Why?

Robyn:  Because if you don’t take one they’ll kill it!  It’s like looking at murderers row!  If you’re going to set foot in the animal shelter, it’s because you are buying a cat THAT DAY.

Me:  Not if they’re all ugly you aren’t.

Robyn:  You’re a monster. 

We just don’t relate on this level. 

But sometimes, sometimes, the guardians of the universe reward me with blessings for my patience.  They realize that I have capitulated to the will of my better half on virtually all occasions of friction, and have bowed to the desires of the forest queen.  And for my good behavior, I am granted a moment which few, nay, perhaps none, have ever witnessed before, that is funnier than anything I have ever seen before.  This is that story. 

When we first started dating, my future wife immediately noticed that I had a fish tank, which I had set up because I thought it would be fun to go fish shopping with her.  There were no fish in it, so she says, “why are there no fish in there.”  I make up some bullcrap story about how I haven’t had time yet, and before you know it we are heading down to the fish store to buy fish together.  Perfect.  The place we go is this generic version of Petsmart somewhere up Mayfield in Cleveland.  It was called Petcrap or something like that, and the name and decor of this place reminded me of McDowell’s from Coming to America.  (They have the Big Mac, and we have the Big Mic.  They have the Golden Arches, we have the Golden Arcs.)  Lawsuit waiting to happen, I’m sure.  Anyway, we walk in and start tooling around near the fish, and I quickly realized something about freshwater fish.  They are homely as hell.  Seriously, it’s like the defense mechanism they evolved over millions of years was to look like a floating turd, and the one with the biggest chunks got the most action.  I had already decided I didn’t want gold fish, because gold fish are annoying and take the biggest dumps of any animal on earth.  They apparently have no sphincters either because every gold fish I’ve ever floated around all day with a three inch long turd hanging off its butt like a centerboard.  It’s gross. 

So there I am, staring at the remaining collection of tiny brown fish with which I can stock my tank, and it became very obvious very quickly that Robyn was much more invested in this process than I ever would be.  I mean seriously, with her it’s like, the uglier the animal the more she loves it.  For a while I was considering running our cat over with a car and shaving its back for Christmas so she’d like it even more than she already does.  So as she happily inspects the floating leprosy colony I surreptitiously decide to sneak away and go look at fuzzy little animals.   Like hamsters.  I can do this because I’m the kind of person who can look at something like that and not feel the overwhelming urge “save” it from a life of getting fat and happy in a climate controlled environment at the pet store.  But then, I’m a monster.

So as I’m perusing the lineup of usual suspects, I came across something I wasn’t expecting.  Along with the puffball hamsters, bunnies, rats, and an occasional ferret (ferrets are gross.  They stink, and my ex psycho-bitch had one.  Of course this psycho-bitch selected the least appealing rodent on earth, and it should have been a warning.  SCA people own ferrets.), this particular store also had a collection of two chinchillas.  Now, chinchillas are not a standard entry for a crappy pet store.  They come from South America, and live in the high in the Andes, where they run around and take cute little dust baths in between pillow fights and marshmallow making.

So anyway, I’m staring at these cute little things, and Robyn comes over to see what’s going on.  Eeeeeeee!  Right.  Now, there are two of these things, and they are in separate little clear plastic shoeboxes next to each other.  I look at the female on the left, and it looks twitchy.  It’s hunkered in the back corner of its cage, and seems to be trying to get as far away from the other chinchilla as possible even though they are separated by a half-inch piece of polyurethane.  We try to coax it out, but it’s very clear that this thing is incredibly antisocial and will probably end up in a dog food processing plant in the near future.  Boring.  So we shift our attention towards the other chinchilla.  The frisky one.  The male. 

This guy looks as fat as a fat fat, and he’s sitting in the middle of his cage like a pile of furry poop, slowly spreading out over the bottom of the cage.  I love fat animals, because they make me laugh.  So we stare at this thing and make fun of it as it waddles around the cage.  Then, it does something strange.  It sits upright, and leans back onto it’s fat ass like an obese jelly bean.  It’s little legs splay out in front of it, and it looks really ridiculous sitting there like that.  As it does this, we get looks of confused curiosity on our faces, and lean in closer as people do when something odd is going on.  This is a strange reflex in humans, as more often than not the best thing you could do in a situation like this is get the hell away.  “Is that a skunk?” “I don’t know.  Look closer.”  As it turned out, this instance was one of those.

All of a sudden, the chinchilla rears back with one paw, shoves it’s hand elbow deep into the thick fur around its crotch, and pulls out the biggest penis I’ve ever seen.  I mean, this cock was bigger than mine.  This hog was easily two thirds of his body length, pink and shiny, and the only part of his body which was completely hairless.  As our expressions of curiosity give way to total and abject horror, this thing proceeds to take his cock in both paws, and without so much as a little cough shoves the ENTIRE THING into his mouth and starts throttling up and down on it like a porn star.  Frozen in a moment of pure insanity, we are unable to look away as he self-felates his cock for a good three minutes before he collapsed onto his back, chewing away at the load before finally swallowing it as his pink glistening cock slowly receded back into a now discolored patch of brown fur around his crotch.  Then he fell asleep in a mismatched pile of lard.  Stupified by what we had just seen, there was a moment of pure silence between Robyn and I, until my wife, obviously in total self-deluded shock, says to me with a frantic and hysterically strained tone,

“Do you think he was cleaning himself?”

No, Robyn.  No he wasn’t.  I looked over at the female chinchilla, who was even further in the corner of her box and visibly twitching, and saw her with a new understanding of her predicament.  I mean, if any little girl had to live in the same room as a fat, sweaty, hairy beast of a man who would occasionally whip out his frightenly huge wang and sucks it, I’d be ruined too.  

Ultimately, we weren’t able to buy any fish that day.  I think it was too traumatic for Robyn to have to make decisions about bringing a pet into our house whether they could reach their cock with their mouth or not, or, frankly, if they even had a cock at all.  I will say that, for about two weeks, the experience hardened Robyn’s views towards pets and animal ownership, and I daresay that if she had to work on a horse farm for any length of time she would probably go off them completely unless they were elegantly framed by some fingerling potatoes and a nice Cabernet.  But alas, that’s not to be.  As we prepare to move into our new house with a fenced backyard and no landlords to govern our lives, I strongly suspect we will be going down to the animal shelter again sometime soon, and most likely coming back with a brownish piece of afterbirth that was mistakenly raised as a puppy several months ago.  And she’ll love it.

Ben Tomkins is a violinist, teacher, journalist and critically acclaimed composer currently living in Denver, Colorado. He hates stupidity and generally believes that the volume of one’s voice is inversely proportional to one’s knowledge of an issue. Reach Ben Tomkins at

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