Matzo

Shady Hamster Pet ID: 3001
My hang out: Camden, DE

My mug shots …

Here’s my story …

You may have heard of me. You may have seen my picture, on the side of a milk carton perhaps, or a post office wall, or a parody Twitter account. You may have noticed one of my aliases mentioned on internet forums thought only to be frequented by conspiracy theorists and sundry wackjobs. The Furry One. The puffy-cheeked James Bond. The Hamster Secret Agent.

But I am no myth: I am a man.

No, sorry, let me try that again.

But I am no myth: I am a mouse.

Oh geez—how did I mess that up twice? I’m a hamster, ok, I’m a hamster. I’m not a myth, I’m real, was the point I was making.

Anyway, all that is behind me now.

In fact, let me take this opportunity to clear up a few simple autobiographical details: My name is Matzo and I’m a Mesocricetus auratus, i.e. a common Syrian or golden hamster. Actually, let’s just go with ‘golden’. Golden is good. Sums me up nicely, I think—especially now that I’m retired.

Yes, after a trailblazing career as the first hamster ever employed in the US Secret Service, I have officially hung up my Tony Stark action figure shades and chosen to spend my twilight years out here in Delaware, in the care of a loving family.

Or so I thought. Frankly, I have some problems with these people. I mean, we can all relate, right? Well, maybe not all of you can relate. I’m not sure. How many of you live with creatures from a different species that is thirty-six times your size? Let me know in the comments section.

Look, here’s my main gripe with this family: they don’t feed me. Do you believe that? Seriously, do you believe that? You don’t? Ok, well… I guess you’re right. They do actually feed me. Sorry, got a little carried away there.

So, they feed me. Oh they feed me alright. Do you know what they feed me? Hamster food. That’s right. ‘Hamster food’. Just any old plastic bag with ‘hamster food’ and a picture of a hamster printed onto it. They buy this stuff and fill my food bowl with it without giving it a second thought.

Now, allow me you ask you a question. If you were in a supermarket and saw a bag with ‘human food’ written on it, accompanied by a picture of some random, photogenic human, would you automatically deem the contents of said bag to be an appropriate meal for a loved one?

I thought not.

Does this family think that, because I am a rodent, I will eat just about anything that’s put in front of me? Also, serious question people: When is the word ‘rodent’ going to lose its stigma? Not any time soon, in this rodent’s humble opinion.

Is it wrong to want the finer things in life? To want the world to burn a little brighter? To want to eat something other than dry pellets of nondescript mixed grains every day of one’s life? I can’t answer these questions. What do you think I am, some kind of hamster philosopher? Ha! A hamster philosopher. What a ridiculous idea. No, I am merely a humble hamster ex-Secret Service agent who would like to dine with a little class.

Or, more specifically: to eat the kale and heirloom tomatoes growing in the vegetable patch in our back yard.

Now, acquiring this food will take a very carefully planned and executed mission. I will, of course, have to make use of my training. Let me outline my stratagem—and, while I’m at it, let me also explain a few things about hamsters that you may not be aware of.

At zero hundred hours, when the family are sleeping soundly, I will use my God-given, humanoid and, if I may say so, adorable little feet to jimmy open the door of my cage. Given that hamsters are nocturnal (or, ok, yes, sometimes crepuscular, but let’s not split fur, as I believe the expression goes); given that we’re nocturnal, I have no concerns about being fully alert and ready for action at this hour.

(A quick note: I will be wearing my shades for this mission, even though it is being undertaken at night. There are two important reasons for this. 1. They complement my features rather dashingly, I feel. 2. All hamsters are both nearsighted and colorblind and these are, in fact, prescription sunglasses.)

My cage is located in the living room of the house and the window of this room is left ajar during the night, so all I will need to do is make it across the floor, up the wall and onto the windowsill.

Can hamsters climb walls, I hear you ask. Sure we can, especially when a wall is textured and therefore provides us with footholds. In fact, I’d always assumed that this modern trend amongst humans for textured walls was a way of turning their homes into a sort of playground for their hamsters.

The only obstacle to reaching the window will be the family’s cat. Ah, Olaf: my arch nemesis, my old foe. Do pet cats kill pet hamsters, I hear your laptop keys clack as you type this question into Google.

YES! GOOD LORD, YES, THEY ABSOLUTELY DO! Ahem. Hope I cleared that up.

Outmanoeuvring the cat will not be easy. This ain’t Tom and Jerry, folks. Should the enemy come on the offensive, I will not conjure a large mallet from behind my back with which to bonk it on the head. No, I will need stealth, speed, and seduction. Wait, no, not seduction. Sorry. Weird. I will probably need to stretch beforehand though, come to think of it.

Once I’ve completed a successful landing fall in the back yard, all that will stand between me and the vegetables (literally) will be the wire mesh fence that bounds the patch. This will not be a problem. Why? Because hamsters are wonderful diggers. Even domesticated hamsters don’t lose their native talent for digging a good tunnel—even retired domesticated hamsters, for that matter.

So, I’ll go under the fence and then, like the moles in one of your human arcade games, pop up in the vegetable patch, ideally not to be whacked. I’ll then store as much food as possible in my cheeks, which will amount to twenty percent of my body weight. (Again, I say this not to brag, but merely to be informative.) I’ll then take the food back to my cage and bury it under the bedding, all long before any member of the family has woken up.

A great plan, no? Really great. Or… a part of me thinks it’s the plan of someone who has spent far too much time alone in his wheel. Is it?

No. Nooo. Come on. It’s great. Definitely great.

*

‘The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of the dusk’, wrote Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel.

I always thought that Hegel guy was an ornithologist, but now I’m having my doubts. Either that or not all owls are from Minerva.

Anywho, experience has now taught me that owls spread their wings and fly not at dusk, but at around a quarter past midnight, so that they can pick you up like some kind of sneaky claw crane and lift you out of a vegetable patch, right when you’re about grab ahold of a juicy, moonlit tomato.

My mission had been going exactly to plan. The cat had been asleep! I had sauntered right past the clueless beast! I’d thought that the gods were on my side. But, alas, cats are not a hamster’s only predator. (FYI: cats; birds of prey; canids; some species of snake; and, in certain parts of the world, humans. That last one was news to me, too.)

Listen, I won’t lie: my escape was not the stuff of action movies. I was no Jack Ryan or Jason Bourne. Not even was I one of the G-Force guinea pigs. Basically, I bit the owl’s leg and it let me go.

My undoing, however, was that I allowed the owl to ascend pretty high before committing to the bite. Why? I must confess… I’m not sure. You know that feeling you have when someone is being rude, but you don’t want to say anything right away? Like, you want to give them a chance to fix their behaviour themselves? Maybe it was that.

Or maybe my retirement has now taken its toll. Maybe I am no longer the remorseless agent of state justice that I once was. Maybe I’ve just gone soft.

Although, I mean, the bite did prompt rather a loud screech on the part of the owl, so I guess not totally soft.

In any case, the fall was from a great enough height that, when I landed back in the vegetable patch, the impact knocked me clean out. My gustatory dream was over. The mission had failed.

When I woke up the next morning, I was being gently lifted out of the soil in a gardening glove. It was the mother of the family. She took me back into the house and explained the situation to the father and daughter.

‘Why was Matzo in the vegetable patch?’ the daughter asked.

‘I really don’t know honey’, said the mother. ‘Why do you think he was in the vegetable patch?’

At this, she left the room. Then, a few minutes later, she came back holding her tablet.

‘I checked a few different websites and they all say that hamsters need fruit and vegetables for a healthy diet, as well as dry pellets.’

‘Really?’ said the father. He and the mother exchanged a slightly guilty look.

‘I think we should feed him something from the vegetable patch’, the daughter said.

‘That sounds like a great idea’, said the mother.

So, the daughter went out and picked some kale and some heirloom tomatoes, sliced and diced them up and put them into my food dish.

This, dear reader, was a game changer. It was revelatory. It was delicious! I think the family—my family—now realise that when you can’t communicate easily with someone, you have to be extra attentive to them.

Hey, wait a minute… owls… dusk… Kegels… no, wait, Hegels… wisdom coming late… like in retirement… I think… ah, forget it. Like I said, I’m no hamster philosopher.

Anyway, I’m off to chase a brightly coloured, jingling plastic ball around the living room. Frankly I can’t say it’s my favourite pastime, but it makes the daughter giggle.

Agent Matzo, signing out.

 

Author:  Anthony David Coleman, Liverpool, United Kingdom

Shady Pet Awards/Notes:

  • On Shady Pets (Series 1) Blue #1 Shady Hamster Card.

PDF – Matzo Series 2 Card (Print & Play): N/A

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