About two months ago, Gulley and I were talking on the phone making plans for our annual Christmas shopping weekend when she asked, “Is Caroline going to want a Zhu Zhu Pet for Christmas?”
“She hasn’t mentioned it. Why?”
“Well, I’ve heard it’s going to be the hot toy this season. You might want to go ahead and get one if you think she might want one.”
And then I think I may have made some comment about kids in America needing to spend more time outside and not becoming consumed by fake hamsters made in China because I like to make bold, sweeping generalizations about topics that will come back to haunt me.
Fast forward to two weeks ago when I was looking through the Sunday ads at Mimi and Bops’ house. Caroline climbed into my lap, pointed to the front page of the Walmart circular featuring a prominent picture of the Zhu Zhu Pets milling about in their little plastic hamster house and said, “That is the NUMBER ONE THING I want from Santa this year! The NUMBER ONE THING!”
I headed to Walmart the next morning fully expecting to purchase a Zhu Zhu Pet and all the faux hamster accoutrements. In fact, I even threw out a breezy Twitter update that said, “On my way to buy a Zhu Zhu Pet because everyone knows a battery-powered hamster is better than a real one.” Imagine my surprise when I perused the toy aisles at Walmart only to discover that there was nary a stitch of any sort of Zhu Zhu Pet merchandise to be found.
The same can be said of my visit to Target and three other local Walmarts. All I managed to come up with was a lone Zhu Zhu Pet exercise ball which I promptly snatched up even though I do not currently own a fake hamster that needs to get fake exercise. In the midst of my desperation, I turned to Amazon.com only to discover the travesty that is Zhu Zhu Pet price gouging. Those hamsters are being sold for upwards of $50.00 online and while I may be naive enough to pay $9.00 for a pizza at the Rollercade, I refuse to shell out $50.00 for what was originally an $8.00 hamster.
So this past Monday, I went back to Walmart to see if some Zhu Zhu Pets had made their way into the store over the weekend. There were none to be found so I wandered over to a Walmart employee and asked in my most polite voice, “Ma’am? Do you know if you’ll be getting in any more Zhu Zhu Pets before Christmas?”
“I don’t know. And even if we do I have no idea when they’ll get here or how many I’ll have.”
Because I’ve always been told that you catch more flies with honey, I replied “Thank you so much! I can’t even imagine how crazy things are around here right now.”
And with that, I caught her.
“Honey, I’m going to tell you something because you’re a lot nicer than the last twenty people that asked me about those Zhu Zhu Pets. I put in an order on Friday and I should be gettin’ them in sometime next week but they’ll go fast. And I’ll tell you somethin’ else, I don’t know much about computers but we sell them for $8.00. Don’t go buyin’ one off of that google or yahoomail or whatever because they’re sellin’ them for $50.00 and, Honey, those things ain’t nothin’ but a battery-powered rat. If I saw that gray one in my house I’d stomp on it.”
Preach, sister. PREACH.
However, it’s the NUMBER ONE THING on my six-year-old’s Christmas list. I thanked her profusely for her time and her wisdom and then went on my Zhu Zhu-less way.
On Tuesday afternoon I made Gulley go with me to another Walmart (the one where I’d found the exercise ball) to see if they might have any in stock. As we walked away empty-handed, Gulley said, “Well you could always just get a real hamster if you can’t find the Zhu Zhu.”
I stopped short and made her look me in the eyes and vow that she would not let me stoop to that level of desperation. I said, “If it gets to be Christmas eve and I start talking crazy about going to PetSmart and buying a real hamster, YOU HAVE TO STOP ME.”
Then as we were walking out the door of Walmart I was busy messing around with my iPhone. I’ll be the first to admit that I have become a little obsessed with it and all the apps that make life so much easier than it was in the olden days when I had no way of playing Frogger anywhere I went. Gulley glanced over at me and said, “Too bad your fancy iPhone has an app that will tell you when you’re about to start your period, but not one that’ll help you find a Zhu Zhu Pet.”
I don’t know when I’ve ever laughed so hard inside a Walmart.
Yesterday, I began to work on my ace in the hole strategy, otherwise known as calling Walmarts all over town trying to get insider information. P, who so far has been oblivious to this whole thing, walked in the back door in time to hear me on the phone saying, “Well, my first choice would probably be Mr. Squiggles, but at this point I’ll take Chunk or Num Nums or even Pipsqueek. I really don’t care.” I looked up from the phone to see my beloved husband looking at me with a mixture of pity and fear, so when I got off the phone I explained the seriousness of the situation and he gave me all the sympathy that any fake tragedy involving a fake hamster deserves.
Gulley even went to Toys ‘R Us yesterday and asked them if they had any Zhu Zhu Pets and they just laughed at her. THEY LAUGHED. I believe that Toys ‘R Us and their employees make Santa Claus sad.
Finally, in the ultimate act of desperation, I remembered Gulley’s words and searched my iPhone apps for Zhu Zhu Pets last night. And you know what? THERE IS A ZHU ZHU PETS APP.
Unfortunately, it’s just a game where you can guide Mr. Squiggles, Chunk, Num Nums or Pipsqueek through a maze by moving the phone in different directions. I can’t help but feel that the app will be of small comfort to Caroline come Christmas day as I sit and explain that Santa couldn’t fit one more battery-powered rat on his sleigh, but if she’ll just wait until January we’ll finally see the day that Chunk will be able to work out in his new exercise ball.
I smell the beginnings of a Christmas we’ll always remember.
Which is still better than the smell of cedar shavings and real hamster.
**Edited to add that many of you have pointed out that they are available online at Toys ‘R Us and it appears that way until you actually try to buy one and then it tells you they are OUT OF STOCK. Which brings me back to my point: Toys ‘R Us = Santa Claus sad