I can remember asking my poor mother on several occasions if I could do just that. I would usually pick my moment carefully and would experiment with different clever approaches. When she was peeling vegetables in the kitchen, that ended with her not missing a slice and shaking her head no, giving a snort of disbelief I left to plan a better moment. The next month when Boys Life Magazine would arrive I had a new plan of attack in mind. My mother was helping my twin brother with homework and things were getting a little heated at the dinning room table, confusion was my moment for sure success. Mother was just about to unload a volley of insults about the lack of interest my brother held in his academics when I blurted out, “Mom can I order a squirrel monkey, they make great pets and they are only fifty dollars?" Remember the look that the evil witch gave the magic looking glass when it was discovered that Snow White was not killed by the Woodsmen, but was flourishing in a happy new life with the Seven Dwarfs? Well the look on my dear Mothers face had it all over the evil witch. I retreated to my room to lick my wounds and that is when I discovered the add for “Four Pygmy Seahorses, Watch the Miracle of Birth When Your Pregnant Male Gives Birth to Twenty Live Babies." What? I read it again and that is what it said, the male carries the eggs in a pouch and the babies are born live tumbling out of the pouch to come swim around with the three females and the obviously odd male. All this and it was mine for just five dollars. I ran down the stairs to find my mother alone in the kitchen, a changed person by this time, she had finished my brothers homework…..err, I said that wrong…..maybe not. Anyway….I plopped the magazine down in front of her and before she could get the words “NO MONKEY” out I said “Did you know that the male seahorse gives birth?" Which caught her completely off guard. So without missing a beat I asked if it was OK if I ordered some as they were only five dollars. I think she was so happy that this order did not involve little furry mammals or stocking the pantry with large shipments of bananas that she nodded her head yes and something like “sure you can” in a foreign language came out of her mouth, but it was good enough for me.
It was a typical late winter day when my three siblings and myself came stumbling into the house from our day of school, cold and rainy! My Mother stood in the doorway and said that I received a package in the mail today. She looked worried and said that she had been doing the laundry and did not hear the delivery which was left inside the outside screen door in the cold. The package was about four inches square, surely this was not the whole shipment. I carefully opened the little box which then held a small plastic bag of……water??? Oh….. and there floating in the smallest little bundle were four flesh colored seahorses, tails interlocked and looking for all appearances …….dead! I gave the bag a very slight shake and they immediately came to life. In the bottom of the box was a small set of instructions and a very small amount of dehydrated sea salt. I quickly set about getting their aquarium set up and after the prescribed floating time I set them free to explore their new home. ,In two weeks time, just as the add said, a small opening appeared in the diminutive males pouch and out came a small army of twenty baby seahorses. They were so small it was difficult to count them. I don’t know if one can still order these fascinating little creatures by mail anymore and I don’t think that if I knew then what I know now that I would order them again because they lived a fairly short life even with my best efforts to give them all they needed. I preserved the original adults by drying them in the sun and then coating them in my Mothers nail polish…..oh yeah Mom I forgot to tell you that part. I wonder if they still sell squirrel monkeys?
|Male on upper right|