Hamster doubts


ferris wheel hamster story 

I first met Gabriel out riding in the March winds. He had allergies – wicked wicked allergies – cedar, pine, sage, desert willow, dust. All day through all eternity he blew his trumpet to the heavens, eyes red as devils and yet he kept calling us all onward, ever up.

How many ways can an angel with allergies sing hallelujah? He sings, he honks, he snorks, he forgives. Gabriel is ever the angel of mercy. He is grateful that he is not the avenging angel. Poor Michael, he thinks, what a sad job avenging must be.

In the sand hills where Gabriel lives, there are prairie dogs, little paws pressed together prayerfully, looking always heavenward. “Please angel Gabriel, don’t let them big earth crushers move into our little sand world, blot out the red mountains, render my little prairie wife and our 1400 children blind and suffocating with dust.” Out there in the sandhills, developers don’t listen to prairie dogs or saints. It is rough and rocky, being alive, always has been. And yet, hasn’t there been a sudden acceleration in the rate of change – hasn’t there? And is it individual, national, global, universal? A rapid spinning sensation. Almost out of control. 

There was a hamster lived nearby in a wheel and one day the wheel broke loose and spun, like a game show, out into the sand hills. The hamster – his name was Fred – Fred and his wheel rolled out into the sage and dust and lizards and (bless his heart) he met up with a prairie dog who’d taken her vows – Bernadette was her name – and she was swept off her feet by his tumbling wheel, his tight little ass and his funny, foreign perspective.

prairie dog

“Fred, you must be French, is that it?” said Bernadette after novenas, after Ash Wednesday, after the evening rains had finished. They smoked a cigarette together under the bright sky. Fred watched the smoke gather, rise and disperse, gather, rise and disperse. He fell into his little hamster trance, the rolling wheel, the wheel of fortune. Bernadette held his paws in hers until daybreak, and then they slept.

What does it mean to be a hamster and a prairie dog in love in the sand hills of New Mexico, right here and right now, where the wind blows hard and the frogs only sing when the rains are heavy? Fred and Bernadette love the rain, the reason to stay indoors and wash each other’s faces for hours while the frogs sing cantatas and the absolution of the waters rinses them clean over and over, fresh again in a rapidly tumbling cycle. A cycle.

Ah grief. I don’t know. There has to be grief in this story, we know it, or maybe we don’t. I wonder – Bernadette is a nun, surely she knows the sorrows, washed in the blood of the lamb and all that, but what about Fred?

Does Fred have insomnia? Does Fred doubt? Has Fred ever gone fishing? Will Fred call out the name of some tender little hamster in his sleep, in the moment? Will he make Bernadette want to run back to cloister, back to habit, back to the 400-year-old Maidens of the Precious Blood up there in the mountains where her abuelita knelt and prayed?

It is less and more complicated than you might think, being a prairie dog. Being a hamster or a frog, a physicist, a pragmatist, or a saint with spring allergies. How is it that we are all boiled down like socks to our most common denominators?

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1 Response to “Hamster doubts”


  1. 1 Alyx June 21, 2006 at 11:05 am

    I love the line “It is rough and rocky, being alive, always has been.” Ah, the love of a hamster and a prairie dog trying to face an uncertain future. I love it.


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