After a conversation with my 11 year old granddaughter, I had to stop the presses on holiday writings. This was too juicy to pass up.
Sorry, I know the title is a little misleading. This piece is not about that tired, old stereotyped, gender-biased rhyme about what little boys are made of. This is actually about my granddaughter and a gastropod named Phoebe formerly Humphrey.
Did you know that pet snails may top the most desired pet list over guinea pigs and other small livestock of that ilk? So it seems, which is probably a good thing for parents. K, my granddaughter, related with great enthusiasm nearly everything you probably never wanted to know about snails. She received a tutorial by a couple of teen-age snail mavens on the care and maintenance of these gastropods at the nearby pet store. Surprisingly, they do require care and maintenance.
Where to begin? Let’s go back to the naming of the snail. Snails are neither male nor female but both since they reproduce all by themselves. At first K thought her pet may be a male. Thus the name Humphrey which is a fine name meaning peaceful warrior. However, after a few hours, K felt that Phoebe, which means radiant, glowing, was most auspicious. Phoebe it will be for perpetuity. Perpetuity, I learned, could be anywhere between now and 2 years. K educated me about the feeding, the ideal environment, signs of both good and poor health. So much information. Who knew?
Being a smart alec grandparent, I couldn’t resist asking if snails come in different breeds like dogs and cats. K nonchalantly informed me, yes, there are different breeds. The most popular breed, to which Phoebe belongs, is called Mystery. Smart alec Grandma asks, “Is that name because it’s a mystery why anyone would want a pet snail?” Fortunately, K grasped the intended humor and chuckled. She said there were several types of Mystery snails. Hers is a Gold Mystery, making the name Phoebe especially fitting. There are other types depending on the shell color, like Red Mystery, etc. The Gold Mystery is the most beautiful, of course.
The final piece to sealing the deal for this Gold Mystery marvel was for K to fork over the contents of her piggy bank. Seriously? Hard-earned piggy bank savings for a snail? When we were 11, we just had to look around the back yards and snails could be had for the taking. K paid her $3 as well as purchasing snail food (yes, there really is food just for snails or maybe fish.) and a lovely plant for Phoebe’s new home. BTW, K had let me know that Phoebe was a baby snail. Just thought I’d mention that. I certainly don’t want to leave out any pertinent, though irrelevant, information.
K was concerned that Phoebe might get lonely all by her/himself in that big tank. I suggested she/he wouldn’t be lonely very long once she/he starts reproducing. The problem with that, according to K, was it’s not the same kind of friendship. Parents, she explained, should have peers for friends, not off-spring. Agreed.
No worries regarding the loneliness issue. K has a friend, S, who is branding herself as a Snail Breeder. (I’m guessing, the only Snail Breeder for miles around.) S has 19 snails and offered K the pick of the litter, or whatever it’s called. Phoebe will soon have a guy/gal pal to climb the tank walls with. Grandkids are unequivocally the best happiness boosters ever, aren’t they!
Comments are welcome.