Our computers aren’t working. The program that we use to do all our work shut down and won’t start up again. I can’t access any website except this one. Apparently fighting ignorance is more powerful than our network problems. I got in to work at 9 am; it’s almost noon now and I haven’t gotten a lick of work done. I’m bored, so I thought I would share with you all the story of Fenster the purple ferret.
One December morning during my freshman year of college, I woke up to find a purple ferret sleeping in my hair. AAUUUGHH! I cried, leaping out of bed. Needless to say, the ferret was also somewhat startled. He quickly composed himself, though, leapt to his feet and introduced himself with a bow. “My name is Fenster,” he said with a pronounced German accent. “Please do not be scared. I will tell you why it is that I am here.”
Struggling somewhat with his English, he explained that he was part of a population of purple ferrets which were being selectively bred and experimented upon in a laboratory at a university in northern Germany. One stifling summer day, the biologists left the windows open. Upon being taken from his cage, Fenster seized the opportunity and jumped out the window. He feared being recaptured by the scientists, so he fled the university and began to fend for himself. Purple ferrets are exceptionally talented at catching polka-dotted mice, and it was as a polka-dotted mouse-catcher that Fenster made his living. He would eat the mice and sell the pelts to shops that made and sold ladies’ gloves. It was a lean living, though, as polka-dotted mice are rare in Germany. Fenster eventually found that the most mice were to be found on the docks, coming off the ships. He determined to find passage on one of these ships and seek a better life in a land rich with polka-dotted mice. The captain of an American container ship agreed to let him on board if he would take care of the ship’s mouse infestation. Fenster agreed. He caught every mouse on the ship, learned English from the sailors, and a few weeks after leaving Germany he found himself in Baltimore.
In addition to rats, Baltimore also hosts a teeming population of polka-dotted mice. Fenster ate well, but was dismayed to find that polka-dotted mouse hides were considered extremely unfasionable. No one would buy them, and without any money he was forced to live on the streets. He moved away from the port, seeking some place safer. He happened to wander across the art school, where the sloppiness of the students created a perfect habitat for polka-dotted mice and provided him with ample places to hide. Nonetheless, it was a lonesome existence. The night before I met him was exceptionally frigid (for Baltimore), and Fenster - cold, lonely and tired - set caution aside and left the pile of dirty laundry he’d been hiding in for the past month and curled up in my hair.
“Und so,” he concluded, “Would you perhaps let me to live with you?”
“Certainly, you may stay as long as you like,” I replied, “if you’ll pay your rent in polka-dotted mouse hides.”
So Fenster stayed with me for the rest of the school year. My mother had recently sent me a care package in a hat box, and Fenster lined the box with mouse skins and made it his bed. I saved up all the polka-dotted mouse hides he gave me and for my final project, I used them to cover the walls, floor and ceiling of a small room. When June came, I moved out of the Freshman housing and went home for the summer. Fenster had heard that polka-dotted mouse fur was coming back into fashion in New York. We parted ways at the train station, knowing that we would probably never see each other again.