I worked from noon to 8 p.m. today. I rolled into the apartment a little after 9 p.m. with no ambition higher than throwing together a modest dinner and maybe watching some TV. CC had already turned in for the night, since tomorrow is an early morning on her teaching schedule, so I tried to pad around quietly. As I entered the semi-darkened living room, I suddenly saw a flash of white zip across the floor. It was far too small to be one of the cats. “Oh no, don’t tell me. I think I know what that was.” I peered around the corner of the couch where the flash had zipped, and saw a gerbil looking at me. Well, for a moment anyway, then off she went like a shot. I spent the better part of the next 2 hours trying to entice that freakin’ gerbil into my grasp, but to no avail. At one point, I actually got her to come up and take a seed from my fingers, but Zip! Off she went behind a desk before I could grab her. Damn, those things are fast!
Here’s the part I found fascinating: I think the gerbil actually wanted to be returned to her cage. She never strayed far from the vicinity of it, considering the relative spaciousness of my apartment, and when I would go to the other side of the room, she’d come to within about 5 feet of me, stand up on her hind legs, and stare at me. Of course, it’s also possible that she just wanted another seed. Unfortunately, she has this instinct that tells her to avoid being captured at all cost, and that reflex would win out every time.
Finally, CC got up to hit the bathroom. I decided that even though she needs her sleep tonight, I needed to tell her what was going on, especially since these two gerbils are much more hers than mine. That turned out to be a good move, because we finally managed to catch the AWOL gerbil. It took another 45 minutes, and it took both of us, but we got it done. Basically, we got the gerbil to go out onto the sun porch. CC went out there while I stayed in the living room on the other side of the closed door. CC induced the gerbil to slip under the door into the living room, where I was sitting on the floor, waiting to grab her. Slippery little imp, she is! Hmmm… I hope that didn’t sound too much like Yoda just now, because I have to believe that a Jedi master might have accomplished this little task a bit more quickly than I did!
So how did she do it? How did she get out of the joint? They said it couldn’t be done, that NO ONE busts out of The Cage. Basically, part of the cage had fallen off, leaving a sizable hole in the middle of one side. We’re not entirely sure at this point exactly how that happened, though the bigger mystery to me is why the other gerbil never seems to have had the least inclination to follow her sister to freedom. Maybe she thinks her parole is coming up and she didn’t want to do anything to queer the deal with the Feds. Maybe she thinks she’s got it pretty good there – three squares a day, endless supply of water, exercise wheel – you try finding those amenities out on the mean streets, and good luck to you!
So tonight’s adventure has ended with no injury or loss of life, and the Windy City can once again relax its broad shoulders and drift off to sleep, knowing that there’s one less gerbil on the streets tonight.