SOME NAMES IN THE FOLLOWING STORY HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT OR INJURED:
when i was a little girl i remember hearing a story about my mom and uncle's pet alligator. he lived in the bathtub and when he got too big he went to live at the zoo. his name was oliver.
i have, over time, retold this story many times. it has been met with mostly blank stares. i'm sure that my friends are just too polite to tell me that they think i'm insane. after all, who keeps an alligator as a pet? the blank stares have forced me to call this story into question. was it something i dreamt up as an only child with an over-active imagination?
i was on the phone with my mom tonight and for some reason i asked about oliver.
shana: how long did he live with you?
mom: oh, 5 or 6 years mom.
shana: FIVE OR SIX YEARS! 5 or 6 years and NO ONE took a picture?!?
i told her that was what i wanted for my birthday. proof of oliver's existence. surely aunt selma or patty has a picture. how could they not? your neice and nephew have an alligator as a pet and no one thinks to take a picture? that to me shows an utter lack of forward thinking.
shana: so, how big was he when you got him mom?
mom: oh, pocket sized.
shana: and where did he live?
mom: in a tank. but then your uncle wally broke the tank and grandpa said that we weren't replacing it so oliver had to go. he was still around two or three years later. he just migrated around the house.
shana: mom, you realize this sounds like complete bullshit?!
mom: well, it does have elements of the fantastic.
i could go on like this and share our entire conversation but it would be the longest post ever. so, here are some highlights. oliver chased squirrels. he ate ground beef that had been left out for a week or so. when the tank broke he lived in the laundry tub. and when it was warm in the back yard. (i
bet their neighbors the sullivans LOVED that- they always had little dogs!) he lived in my grandma's pink bathtub after awhile and the family took showers in the basement. he was a "dirty little secret." they didn't talk about him much nor did he come out for visitors - hence why my mom believes there are no pictures. he was starting to become sexually mature and therefore aggressive when it was decided that he needed to go.
apparently, my aunt selma went up to use the washroom one day. while she was sitting on the toilet oliver peeked his head out from behind the shower curtain. she screamed and ran out of the bathroom with her panties around her ankles. oliver was gone in 48 hours. they took him to the zoo.
mom: you'd think giving an animal to the zoo would be easy.
shana: well, what did the zoo people say?
mom: well, alligators had gone on the endangered species list so they were interoggating us about him. we had to fill out all kinds of paperwork.
shana: wait, how did you bring him into the zoo?
mom: we carried him. one at each end and grandpa in the middle. people kept staring and asking us what we were doing. grandma told them we were shoplifting.
i need proof.