How “Ranger” was voted the best name for the 2nd grade’s guinea pig, I’ll never understand.

It was Sarah Malone’s suggestion, and Mikey seconded the nomination because he liked her. But somehow the rest of the class fell under a spirit of confusion and voted for the name as well, above “Chipper” and “Oink-Doink.”

During the school week students took turns caring for Ranger, and over holidays someone got to take him home if their parents signed a permission slip. He pretty much just needed fresh water, pellets, and encouraging tones of voice.

One time Annie got to take Ranger home even though it fell on the same weekend that her mom was getting remarried. Ranger came to the wedding and sat in the back corner in his tank, next to her Pap who had a tank of his own—one that blew oxygen into his nostrils through a clear, bendy pipe.

He was a couple shades of coarse, blah-brown fur, his teeth were long, cracked, and yellow, and his feet were pink and thin. What an ugly son of a gun. When I had to take care of him, I called him Oink-Doink. Several weeks later I poisoned Ranger. Just kidding, but I did have a daydream about it. Several weeks later we got 2 goldfish in addition to Ranger. Again we engaged in a democratic naming process. This time I won, Sarah! I was quite smug about the passage of the Noid & Floyd naming initiative.

Noid died a week later to teach me humility. When the teacher was cleaning out the bowl, Floyd accidentally slipped down the drain to teach me guilt. When 2nd grade ended, Ranger was given to the Malone family, and I don’t care.