Gerbils

18 01 2009

One of my favorite parts of being back home with my siblings is sitting around and remembering funny stories from when we were little.

During this most recent trip home, it occurred to me that many of these stories I remember with such fondness are probably things that will eventually come back to haunt me now that I am a father of four.

When I was twelve, we lived up the street from Herdis McNerny, the local crazy lady whose house was full of animals she raised to sell to pet stores. It was a nasty place. One bedroom held rabbits and chinchillas. Another had mice, rats, gerbils, hamsters and guinea pigs. The place stunk to high heaven and was probably illegal.

Anyway, Mom let us each buy a gerbil from Mrs. McNerny. The rad part was that gerbils, which cost $5 at the pet store, only cost 50 cents at the Nern’s house.

When one of our gerbils inevitably escaped, rather than tell Mom about it, we tried to catch the gerbil for a day or two. When that didn’t work out, we went back to the Nern’s house with another 50 cents and asked for a gerbil that looked like the one that got away.

This happened five or six times before my folks started to realize they were having a serious mouse problem. (Who knew that gerbils reproduced so fast?) They put out traps and started catching dozens of what they called the “strangest mice” they’d ever seen.

The gerbils would come in waves. They wouldn’t catch any for a while, and then there would be a resurgence. They kept catching gerbils until the day we moved, but so far as I know, they never did figure out where those weird mice really came from.

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9 responses

18 01 2009
Mom2

I would have strangled you, had I ever found out!

19 01 2009
Emily Straw

Oh my goodness I seriously burst out laughing hysterically at this!! I remember at least one of those gerbils that David had in a cage. I wonder which one it was?? 🙂

19 01 2009
Jesse

I cannot get over how nasty the McNerny house must be.

19 01 2009
Janna

Hahaha! What a great story

19 01 2009
Mom2

Is Herdis McNerny seriously her name?? It sounds like the name of a character you would find in a Lemony Snickett novel.

19 01 2009
Rob in Gallup

Mom2 – It really is her name. I couldn’t make up a name that incredible if I tried. I haven’t seen her since we moved from that house fifteen years ago, but her name was so bizarre I never forgot it. Every time I see a news headline about some house or trailer that got raided by cops who confiscated thousands of animals from some compulsive animal hoarder, I have to click to the article to see if it’s about the Nern.

Jesse – As nasty as you can imagine, yes it was. Think of how bad a room smells when there’s a pet mouse or rat whose shavings aren’t changed often enough, then intensify that smell by about 5000%. It made our eyes burn just to walk in her house. I guess that’s the price you pay for a fifty-cent gerbil.

19 01 2009
Mom2

No offense to Herdis McNerny (in case she’s reading).

20 01 2009
tigerlilysandybanks

That’s really gross and sad at the same time….

20 01 2009
Jesse

Well, I guess she would never run out of food. In dire situations that is..

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