So many great stories start with the line: “When I was babysitting…” Kids do/say/imagine some of the darndest things. A week ago, I headed downtown to babysit Tuna (yes, his name has been changed). Tuna is a hyper yet extremely intelligent 7-year-old with a penchant for science and spelunking for lizards in the many nooks and crannies of downtown Savannah’s historic buildings. Sometimes he talks in a monotone yell of excitement. “DID YOU KNOW THAT WHEN YOU BREAK A LIZARD’S TAIL OFF IT STILL MOVES?” And then adds, “I WENT TO ARIZONA LAST WEEK.” “Why?” I ask. “TO HUNT FOR QUAIL.” Why yes of course, I was there last month doing the same.
For his seventh birthday Tuna received a guinea pig which, as I commented to his mother, gives him a sense of ownership and responsibility as he takes care of this ever-fattening ball of fur. Tuna brought Bugsy down the stairs upon my arrival. “Let’s make a sweater for Bugsy!” he says. I smile skeptically. “COME ON!” he retorts. I climb the three flights of stairs in Tuna’s historic home and arrive breathless in his bedroom. “Grab a sock!” he exclaims. Not sure what to do, I pause as he runs frenzied around me, coming to open the top drawer of his dresser and extricating a greying pair of formerly white athletic socks. “This will work!” he announces. “Grab the scissors,” he says, as if asking me to grab the scalpel in a life and death operation.
We cut the toe and the ankle bit off of each sock and lay the remainder out for decorating. We will use the toe-side scrap for a hat. I write Bugsy in bubble letters on the side of the tube (I mean sweater). “COOL,” Tuna says rather close to my ear. “On the other side write “I AM BUGSY”,” he tells me and I obey. Once Bugsy’s outfits are properly decorated it is time to dress the booger. And what can I say…He looked pretty cute. I wonder often about my future and what the hell I am doing on God’s green earth. Maybe the answer is that I’m meant for rodent fashion.