Back when everyone I knew owned Nintendo (NES), my brother convinced my parents to buy me the OTHER system: the Sega Genesis. I only had two games for the thing: Sonic The Hedgehog and Echo (the asshole) Dolphin before I realized that video games were bullshit.
But hedgehogs weren’t. In fact, life might be damn near perfect if I could have a lovable scamp like Sonic for a kicky sidekick! One day, I shook my fist at the dusty, unused Sega Genesis, that someday I too, would have a hedgehog-sidekick of my very own.
My twenty-fifth birthday found me in a brand-new house, desperately failing to getting pregnant with a second baby, working forty hours a week, with a menagerie of animals already in my care.
The Daver: “What do you want for your birthday?”
Me: “A pony.”
The Daver: “Our yard is too small for a pony. What ELSE do you want for your birthday?”
Me: “A turbo jet.”
The Daver: “Okay, someday, I’ll buy you a jet.”
Me: “You have to name my jet, “Fluffy.”
The Daver: “Okay. So what do you want for your birthday THIS YEAR?”
Me: “A hedgehog.”
Daver: “You’re not serious, are you?”
The Daver: “You don’t want a hedgehog, Becky.”
The Daver: “So you DO want a hedgehog. Why?”
Me: “I need a hedgehog sidekick like Sonic.”
The Daver: “….”
Me: “He can ride everywhere on my shoulders and we can solve crimes together while collecting those golden rings.”
The Daver: “What do you know about hedgehogs?”
(he was always asking questions like this)
Me: “Uh. Well, they like gold rings and they’re blue and they fight crimes.”
The Daver: “…”
Me (pulling something out of my ass): “Also, they’re indigenous to hot, aired climates and enjoy carrots.”
The Daver: “This seems like a bad idea, Becky.”
Me: “Nah, it’ll be great! Me and my crime-fighting hedgehog will have many adventures.”
Once he was safely out of sight, I googled “hedgehogs,” and found a breeder within ten miles of my house. I called to see if she had any crime-fighting hedgehogs for sale, and when she didn’t, I was crestfallen. She put me on a crime-fighting hedgehog waiting list.
A couple of weeks later, she called and informed Daver that she had a hedgehog for me. Thrilled, we drove to the breeder and I picked up my new crime-fighting sidekick, a cage, and some hedgehog food.
My albino hedgehog looked remarkably like a baked potato and absolutely nothing like Sonic.
I named him Tate, short for “potato.”
“Oh well,” I sighed, “maybe hedgehogs aren’t blue.”
Daver grimly glared, his eyes on the road.
After we got Tate’s cage set up, I read the handouts the breeder had given me.
“It says here that I need to ‘socialize’ him so he gets used to people,” I read aloud. Okay, I could do that. Animals loved me.
When I grabbed Tate out of his cage, he became a hissing ball of pokiness. Well, sure, he wasn’t USED to me yet. No wonder he was scared. After a couple of minutes in my hand, he relaxed a bit and I was able to see how freaking cute he was.
He started licking my hand.
“Awwwww,” I said, “Lookit how much he loves me! He’s giving me hedgie-kisses!” As he continued to lick my hand, I imagined the bank-robbers we’d apprehend, the jewel thieves we’d bring to justice, and all of those gold rings we’d collect along the way.
Tate interrupted my vision of the two of us riding a horse, hotly in pursuit of Bad Guys when he chomped down onto my finger. It felt like a thousand tiny nettles of pain so I yelped. I tried to remove his tiny mouth from my finger, which was now oozing blood, but he held on, determined. I swung my hand back and forth trying to get him to let go of my damn finger. He dug in harder.
Finally, I pried his horrible mouth off my finger and ran to the bathroom to wash the wound, tears flowing. That motherfucker! How DARE he?
For months, I carried him around in his specially-designed “hedgehog pouch,” as the handouts suggested, so he could “get used to me.”
He never did.
My zombie hedgehog was bullshit.
Luckily, I found a new hedgehog.
This hedgie kinda liked me.
(Mostly because I gave him candy.)
Tate was NOTHING like Sonic. When he died a couple of weeks before Amelia was born, no one was too sad. Our scarred fingers were a painful reminder that sometimes things just don’t work out.
I learned a valuable lesson from Tate: not all hedgehogs are crime-fighting sidekicks.
Which is why I’ve decided that I need a feisty camel sidekick named Mr. Spits instead.