In which Dorothy Cannell discovers that they are not something you should eat . . .
There are instances (admittedly few and far between) when I think I deserve elevation to sainthood. Last evening was one of those times. I’ve been spending the past couple of weeks in the Midwest on a visit with children and grandchildren, dividing my time between the ones in Illinois and those in St. Louis, where I currently am. My base here is at my daughter and her partner’s home with their three children Trevor, Jordan and Hope. My oldest grandson Julian and his sister Mariah live a few miles away with their father. They’ve spent lots of overnights here during my visit and it’s all been heaps of ordinary, everyday, fun.
Julian is twenty. He’s been great about doing some of chauffeuring when we’ve gone out to eat, primarily at Steak & Shake or Panera’s. I pine for them in Maine; and the kids are happy wherever we go. A few days ago Julian went with fifteen-year-old Jordan to one of the malls. On their return there was talk about Sugar Bears. Julian asked me if I knew about them. Assuming they were candies, I said I’d never tried them but as I love gummy bears I’d probably find them very tasty. It was then explained to me by a number of eager voices that Sugar Bears are small-sized Real Live animals. What had stirred Julian’s interest was having seen and held a couple of them at the mall where a company had representatives demonstrating their charms. Chief of which is they can go everywhere with you in a shirt or pant pocket without fear of attempted escape due to the extraordinary bond between pet and owner. I was shown a phone photo and my mind screamed ‘Rodent.’ You only have to say the word ‘Mouse’ to have me leaping for the chandelier. Wrong concept. Sugar Bears are marsupials from the Australian rain forests; as such they can be safely integrated with dogs or cats. I pictured our cat Vicki’s cynical smirk as I explained that though a Sugar Bear might look like fast food it wouldn’t taste like it.
The conversation changed and that was that, until Julian, Mariah, Jordan, Hope and I were about to leave Panera’s. Julian asked if I’d like to go the mall, and I was only too pleased to accept because I’d been wanting to buy a long-sleeved white t-shirt. But I can’t claim misrepresentation. When we were walking to the car Julian told me that the Sugar Bears would only be for sale there until nine o’clock that night. I was in no doubt where this was teetering – he was almost ready to buy one, but wanted encouragement to do so.
I later learned that Sugar Bears are not inexpensive pets – let’s think the cost of a pretty decent sofa , and Julian has always been thrifty. It didn’t surprise me he had enough on his debit card to buy two; in fact, he considered that option before deciding on one for the time being. “Very reasonable,” I said, blocking the vision of my husband’s appalled face at my being such dreadful influence.
Through the mall we went until reaching a group of people gathered around a man with two little creatures running up and down his arm. Think skinny looking chipmunks. I can deal with this, I thought, until one dived inside his shirt and wriggled downward. Still I managed to lock in my smile. Where the sainthood came in was when Julian asked I’d like to stroke the one that was still visible. Greater love hath no grandmother, I thought on extending a finger. The selection was made from a number of eight-week-olds and borne away by Julian in a pouch around his neck. Included in the cost was a cage and other necessities.
So, our new family member is a boy, as yet unnamed. On our return, my daughter Shana said to Julian, “I’m not saying a Sugar Bear isn’t welcome here, I’m cool! But he’ll have to stay in his cage. I just can’t deal with him flying around the room.”
It was her turn to be educated. Mariah explained that Sugar Bears don’t fly – “they glide,” to which Shana replied, “If you shot a paper plane in the air, it makes no difference whether you called if gliding or flying.”
I couldn’t have agreed more, but kept my saintly smile and said nothing.