#5 went on a camping trip this weekend. It was the first time he’d spent the night away since he came to live with us. It was unnerving, having him gone. But he returned on Sunday with salamanders.
CC and I are up way too late, sucked in to Kill Bill like we are every time it comes on. It’s my turn to get up with the kids in the morning.
Me: Whoa. There is some serious salamander activity next to me here.
CC: In what way?
Me: There was a splash.
One salamander is still at the bottom of the bowl, but the other is very determinedly attempting to get out.
Me: Dude is getting out of that bowl for sure. What should we do?
Me: Really. What do you do with a salamander? I feel a tremendous sense of obligation for these little guys.
CC: Fine. Get the car keys. I’ve had two scotches and half a bottle of wine. You’re driving.
Me: Okay, but you have to carry them.
CC: Oh sure. Make the impaired guy carry the salamanders.
I pause to take a picture.
We have a park near our house that has both a pond and a stream. It’s a nice park. A great place to release your salamanders. Except it’s the kind of park that has police who notice and come to question you if you’re there after dark.
Me: Wait, these aren’t like zebra mussels are they?
CC: No. Get in the car.
We go out to the car- me, CC, and two salamanders.
Me: You know, there’s an X-Files episode about this.
CC: No there isn’t.
Me: Yes there is.
CC: About dumping salamanders out in a pond?
Me: No, but about salamanders. This guy who has it out for Mulder gets worked on at prison by some crazy doctor and he gives him a salamander hand, thereby proving my theory once again.
CC: Which is?
Me: That you can name pretty much anything, and there’s an X-Files episode about it.
Me: The end.
Me: Don’t drop the salamanders.
CC: I’m not going to drop the salamanders. They’re going to get eaten by fish the instant we set them free.
Me: No they won’t.
CC: Yes they will.
Me: Well, better to be eaten by a fish than by one of the puggles, which would cost us $400 and three days of emotional duress while they’re hooked up to an I.V. at the vet.
CC: We’re going to get arrested for this on some eco-violation. They’re going to come and arrest #5, and all the rangers that took him on the camping trip, and we’re going to have to sell the house and move into some tiny apartment where we don’t all fit to pay remediation costs to remove and restore these two salamanders to Western New Jersey.
Me: I’m pretty sure we don’t have that much equity in the house.
Me: I forgot my flashlight. Also, I’m in flip-flops.
CC: Can we just drop them in the pond instead of the creek? The last thing I need to do is break a frickin’ ankle tonight.
Me: This decision of where to drop them probably is the single most important thing that will determine their length of life, isn’t it?
CC: Who cares? The cops are gonna be here any minute. “What’s that, officer? No, sir, we’re just taking our bowl for a walk. We do it all the time.”
We dump them.
Into the pond.
One stays put. The other heads for dry land.
I like to think he was the jumper.
Me: I wonder how long it’s going to take #5 to figure out they’re gone.
CC: About as long as it takes him to cross the floor. He did leave them on the kitchen table. It’s going to be the first thing he checks when he wakes up.
CC (re-enacting our first phone call eleven years ago when he was interviewing me to be his assistant on the Aida tour): So, I’ll hire you for the gig. In like, eleven years, you’re going to be dumping two salamanders out of a cereal bowl into a park pond in New Jersey while looking out for cops. I have no idea what happens between these two events. You still want the gig?
For the record, I still would have taken the gig.