Omar’s $500 Bill

About a year into our relationship, we decided it was time to make sure we could take care of something and keep it alive together. No, not plants… although we’d had our share of failed plants by then: a lipstick plant (yes, there is such a thing) we named Alice (yes, we DO name our plants) had slowly lost all her beautiful curled leaves, no matter how hard we tried to keep her happy, and over a trip I took during the summer to the west coast, Surgeon had managed to OVER-water a cactus named Carlos —

“I thought you had to water him every week!” he protested.

“It’s A CACTUS.” The poor thing had fallen apart on my kitchen counter.

All things considered though, it made sense to try this “next step.” Neither of us had had a pet growing up. My mother was adamant to keep her house fur free, “and besides,” she’d point out, nonchalantly eyeing my siblings and I lined up with faces creased in hope and pleading, “I already have three pets to take care of.” Surgeon’s case was a little different: he is allergic to fur, so dogs, cats, and all things furry were never an option.

“How about a hedgehog?” Surgeon prompted.

A hedgehog. I’d heard of them, but I also HADN’T heard of them. The only representation I had of them was Sonic the hedgehog. But when Surgeon pulled up pictures of REAL hedgehogs online, I knew we’d get one… how could anyone resist the cuteness?

So the search began, and about 2 months later, I brought home (well, to Surgeon’s home back then) a very terrified, balled up, spiky bundle of a baby hedgehog.

We had just finished watching The Wire, and after playing a bit with our new pet, we decided that Omar, after Omar Little in the show, suited the little creature perfectly: tough on the outside, but soft-hearted on the inside.

Omar grew and we found his temperament to be more like the extreme introvert rather than the quirky, excited explorer I’d hoped him to be. His needs are: feed me, clean me, and leave me alone. Nevertheless, he was the one “family” member we had at our wedding, and his presence is always calming, especially when I am stuck at home for hours with no one else really around.

He has also managed to teach me a couple of things about animal medical care… it can get pretty expensive. A yearly check up with a vet who specializes in exotics (apparently Omar is an exotic) can cost up to 200 dollars, especially if they have to put him under for examination. But what’s 200 bucks a year, right? I shrugged it off.

But when it comes to real problems, it really isn’t something to shrug off. A few weeks back, Surgeon pulled Omar out of his cage and we found, much to our dismay, an abscess on his little butt. Surgeon, being who he is, gently poked at it and said,

“Let me get a knife and drain it.”

My heart just about flew out of my chest. “NO. He’s not gonna be CUT without being under!”

“Well, it doesn’t seem to bother him when I touch it. Let’s try.”

“WAIT. Let me look this up,” I reasoned. Surgeon knows me well and was gracious enough to let me pull out my laptop and do some research while he continued to examine and poke at my poor creature’s abscess.

Online, I found that it was done exactly as Surgeon had suggested. Cut, drain, keep it clean. But it was ALWAYS cut while the animal was under.

It also cost upward of $500 to get it done at the vet’s office.

“Come on. Let me try. If he goes berserk, I’ll stop.”

Reluctantly, I brought him gloves, towels and a blade. Yes, a surgical blade… he keeps them around.

Surgeon picked Omar up, flipped him into his hand on his back, and tried to hold him still. Omar is a fidgety animal, but for some reason, it seemed as if he knew what was happening. As soon as Surgeon brought the blade near, Omar went completely calm. Surgeon deftly made a clean cut, squeezed out all the puss, and cleaned it all up in less than a minute.

And Omar? He just stared at my worried face and Surgeon’s concentrating one, back and forth, as if nothing important was happening.

“See? It’s handy having a surgeon around!” Surgeon smirked, “I just saved us $500 and then some.”

I scowled at him and then smiled down at the little face looking up at me from the bath in the sink.

I guess it is kinda handy.

Snippets From Interview #2

Second installment of the Snippets Series! This time from the home town of none other than the King of Rock and Roll.

*

Surgeon: Why is it so God damn hard to travel with a suit
I have nothing else

Wife of a Surgeon: Did you ask an attendant if she could hang it for you?

S: Too late

*

S: Um checked in
It’s a room
Better than pirate shack, worse than Rio Nido Lodge

WS: it’s 56 bucks

S: It looks like it

*

Over Video Chat

S: I’m gonna feel weird walking to the hospital through downtown with a bag and a suit on.

WS: What? Why?

S: This place is kinda questionable.

WS: Wait, are you scared?

S: No. You just have to be here to see it. It’s like, one side of the street you think “oh, okay, this is a nice place to live,” and then you turn your head and it’s like the worse part of the city. But it’s the same street.

W: Well, walk on the good side.

*

S: I don’t want to go to this
I just wanna go home

WS: Awwww 😦

*

S: We were supposed to depart @ 555
Now we are delayed further
With no answer as to when we are boarding

WS: Maaaaan
I was so happy you were coming back at a decent hour
darn these people

S: All this shit for a program I don’t even want to go to
At least I liked Chicago

*

In the car after picking Surgeon up from the airport

S: Here, I brought you something

Memphis Pig

The Normality

I married Surgeon less than a month ago.

It was on a quiet, bright spring morning, a Monday, the first full day off for Surgeon after a hectic, call-filled two weeks. It was him and me, our hedgehog, an officiant and a hired photographer. I asked Surgeon to dress it up a little, and to my pleasant surprise, he didn’t argue. He wore the awkwardly tight, legging-like trousers I handed him, his face set in an annoyed scrunch until I pulled on the delicately bedazzled top coat of his outfit.

“Well, this looks fine.”

Yes, we did look fine.

It took me about two weeks to piece everything together. My mother mailed me my dress, I went and got henna done, I rented garden space, and I found a little boutique in the basement of a townhouse in the middle of a small town tucked into the woods to help me complete my ensemble with quaint jewelry. Oh, and a visit to the courthouse for papers.

Two weeks. $1167. That’s it.

It couldn’t have been more perfect.

Right afterwards, we went and saw Mad Max Fury Road. It was the best just-married activity I could’ve envisioned. Note: the last movie we saw in theaters together was the Lego Movie, over a year ago. Yes, he’s that busy/exhausted/fed-up.

But on that day, and for the two weeks of vacation that followed, it was as if we were a normal couple: sleeping in, taking a hike, staying up late, watching Clueless in bed, having a picnic dinner OUTSIDE, attending a friend’s wedding and keeping ours a secret until their day was over, and “not talking about that place unless absolutely necessary.” His words, not mine. Surgeon cannot stand that place most times: that place doesn’t give time back.

And so when I waved goodbye to him at the airport as he headed back to that place two weeks earlier than I would, the real normality settled in. His normality. My normality.

Our normality.