Alex asked me: “Why is your blog called NuckolBall?”
“Well, it’s our last name and also the name of a pitch in baseball. I combined them.” I was surprised he didn’t know that.
“Yeah,” he said sadly, “but why does the blog have to be about baseball?”
OH. Alex got the name. He got it completely. I was the one not getting it.
Here’s the deal: Alex doesn’t like baseball that much. Jack and I are nuts about it, and Alex is basically along for the ride. So he’s left out from the blog. Add to that the fact that I just had a guest post on a Yankee beat writer’s blog, and the post was entirely about me and Jack. I completely ignored the fact that Alex was at the game I described. (Note: in many cases, NuckolBall stories bend the shit out of the truth.)
So this post will be entirely about Alex. This post will be rambly, overly-long, and completely Alex-esque. Also, it means that you need to write a comment about how much you like Alex. Feel free to stop reading and do that now. In fact…
The remainder of the post will really only interest:
- People who love to read about Alex
- People who love lizards
- Local people who need chores done
Two weekends ago we went to PetSmart near our house. Alex has saved up an astonishing $102, and we were inquiring about getting a lizard. A very helpful girl walked us through the cost of the cage, food, lizard, etc – and it was clear that we were looking at over $200.
“But what about a frog?” she said.
“Ooh!” said Alex.
So she walked us over to the frog tank. We added up what cage we needed, water treatment, crickets, meal worms – it was awesome. She even let Alex hold one of the frogs. Best off, we were looking at around $80 for everything. Perfect.
“Can we get it now?” Alex asked.
“No way. You’ve got karate in an hour and then basketball after that. We can come back this afternoon.”
Alex was on Cloud 9. He hopped around the basketball court like he hadn’t peed in 2 days, paying no attention to the game. His friend Aiden asked him to come over to play, but Alex barely answered him as he ran for the car. Back to PetSmart we went. New staff people had replaced the girl we spoke to that morning.
“Oh no, that tank isn’t nearly big enough. A frog needs at least a 10 gallon tank.” [Add $15 and now the tank is much harder for Alex to lift and clean himself.]
“Oh no, they eat about 8-10 crickets a day. Plus that cardboard cricket box won’t work for a frog because it’ll get wet.” [Add $3 a week to feed the frog plus $20 for the cricket keeper cage that Shani will not deal well with.]
“Let me just get the paperwork. This type of frog has to be registered in NJ. That’s a ten dollar fee.” [Registration?!?]
“You need gloves to hold it. Human skin is dangerous to the frog and the frog’s skin has an irritant that can create a rash.”
So here I am in this pet store with a kid sooo excited to get this frog and I’m learning:
- It’s going to cost way more than expected to buy
- It’s going to cost way more each week to feed the frog
- I need to buy a “Cricket Keeper” cage to house live crickets, plus food for the crickets – in essence Alex is getting a pet frog AND pet crickets
- There is no way Alex can possibly clean the cage on his own – which has to be done 2/week
- Alex will not even be able to TOUCH his pet
After 30 minutes of heart-punching facts about frog ownership, I pull the plug.
“Alex, this isn’t going to work.”
“I’m getting a frog!”
“Alex, it’s not going to work. We’re not going to do this. I’m so sorry, bub.”
“Croaky?” (This was the name he had selected.)
Tears. And not a few tears – lot of tears. Alex proceeds to bawl. He knows I’m right and he is heartbroken. He will not be going home with a new pet. He will not be going to bed that night with his new frog sitting on his dresser.
We got home and watched the Justice League together, cuddling on the couch while Alex recovered. After 3 episodes he seemed to be all right. By that time I had received a text from my friend whose son has a lizard.
Go to Bill’s Wonderland of Pets. They know their stuff.
Fast forward to the next weekend. We find ourselves in a non-chain, locally-owned pet store. A gothy girl with tattoos and black eyeliner helps us out.
“I’d recommend a Max Land gecko.”
Turns out “Max Land” is an actual person who breeds geckos. Goth girl walked us through all the stuff we would need, and then took us over to the tank where she pulled out a gecko and showed Alex how to safely hold it. The thing was crawling all up and down the boy’s arms as he gently handled it.
“See, after you handle him a while they get comfortable. You’re really good with him,” goth-girl told Alex.
Total cost: $135. Which means Alex is short $40 – but he is not to be denied. The boy is saving up. Every day he asks me about doing extra chores. He’s carried wood for me. Done dishes. He cleaned two bathrooms for Shani. He is saving up.
Which leads back to YOU…if you’re local and you’re still reading. If you have a chore for a detail-oriented, diligent 8-year-old, Alex is your guy. I’m not talking about some bullshit thing you give him to do and hand over $10 because he’s cute. This isn’t about fund-raising. I’m talking about an honest-to-God chore that would be worth a few bucks to you. If you have some work, let me know and I’ll get my lizard-lover over to your place stat.