Nacho Dorito, The Hamster

Nacho Dorito!

ONE MID-AFTERNOON IN JUNE, I was sitting in my sister’s room when my mom called, asking if Reese, my sister, was anywhere around. This, of course, led to a fight for the phone, because Reese had to know what was going on. After I won the war, I told my mom Reese was right next to me, if my mom hadn’t already figured it out. (My mom says we don’t know how to talk on the phone. I wonder how she drew that conclusion.) My mom told me to come outside and help her carry things in as she pulled into the neighborhood.

Now, in my eighteen years, we’ve never ever had a pet live inside. My father expressly forbid it. “Animals belong outside and that’s where they’re going to stay”.

Of course, we blamed this on his back-town-ho-dunk upbringing, but we had to concede. He did have a point — both my brother and I have horrible allergies and often find ourselves miserable around anything with fur.

But Reese never had any animal allergies so she always begged for a pet she could keep in her room. My parents always said no in their “we’re not messing around, now go away before I make you go clean your room” voice — so imagine my surprise when I open the passenger door of my mom’s car on that day and see a cage for a small animal.

It was a hamster cage, and yes, my mother did in fact bring home a hamster to go with it. When she saw my sister, my mom said “We’re going to tell your dad we found him on the side of the road”.

The hamster was adorable. Once Reese was done squealing and I managed to reattach my jaw to the rest of my face, I told Reese she absolutely had to name the little ball of fur something worthy of the Great Shawn Spencer.

Now, if you’ve ever seen the show Psych, you’ll know that Shawn Spencer comes up the best names ever for his best friend Burton Guster. Some of these names include: Gus “Silly Pants” Jackson, Magic Head, Hollabackatcha, and Ghee Buttersnaps. So, in true Spencer fashion, we dubbed our hamster Dorito.

As we set up his cage and added food to his bowl, we decided to wait until my dad noticed there was now a hamster sitting on Reeses’ dresser. Since our dad works nights, you’d think it would be easy to keep something from him. The problem is my dad is actually Superman. He could give Gus’ ‘super smeller’ (ah, look! Another Psych reference! Now, you have to go watch it) a run for its money.

He once walked into the living room, asking what the horrible smell was, and then tracked it across the house to find a McDonald’s bag in my brothers room. Another time, he told me my music was too loud in my car and then proceeded to tell me exactly what song I’d been listening to as I pulled into the drive way. How he knew this since he was inside and in his room, I’ll never know, but we didn’t think we’d be able to keep up the ruse for very long.
On the fourth day, my dad walked into my sisters’ room to wake her up. I stood at the doorway to see what would happen and possibly attempt to save Dorito when my father tried to feed him to our dog.

But my dad never saw him! He walked into the room and even sat down on my sisters’ bed and never saw anything. We were so surprised! It wasn’t until that night at dinner we finally told him we had a hamster, and that Reese’s boyfriend had given him to her, so we couldn’t possibly turn him away right? We figured it was a better cover story than saying we found a hamster rolling around in one of those clear balls down the side of the road.

Turns out, we really didn’t need a cover story because my dad ended up loving Dorito more than all of us combined. Sometimes, he’ll walk up when we’re playing with him, steal him, and let him run around his bed. Now this is an animal that can’t come into contact with water and washes himself by rubbing his paws over his face. This is an animal that stuffs its cheeks full of food and the stuffing that goes in the bottom on his cage, takes it up to his ball, spits it all out, and then sleeps on it. But apparently, even my hard ass father isn’t immune to its beady eyes and cuteness when he yawns.

He won me over with the yawning, but one day I pet him and he attempted to bite my finger off. It bled for the next two days. So, you could say we didn’t get off on the right foot, uh, I mean paw. For the entire week after the incident I pulled a Katniss and threatened to turn him into stew every time I walked into my sisters’ room. But eventually, his hamster charm won me over.

Reese does not approve of the friendship. Apparently, I’m “smothering the Dorito”. I call it nuzzling. So when I say Hi to Dorito my sister screeches “HALEEEEY!” and then jabbers on about how I’m going to stress him out and will give him some hamster disease called ‘wet tail’.

My dad may call me a hamster abuser and tell me I need to watch the movie Tommy Boy, but if Dorito thinks he’s gonna make it in this family without learning to make it through the craziness, he’s sadly mistaken. Honestly, though, I think he’s gonna be just fine. Any hamster brave enough to crawl in one arm of my shirt and then out the other can handle anything I throw at him and will definitely fit in just fine in my insane family.