Life Lessons from a Comically Misnomered Creature

August 11, 2017
By annieszlu SILVER, San Diego, California
annieszlu SILVER, San Diego, California
7 articles 0 photos 0 comments

I am not a pineapple. I am not a funny bone, Chinese checkers, or American “football”. I am, however, a guinea pig: neither porcine nor originating in Guinea. The mere title of my entire species is fraught with irony and confusion, which does nothing to help the case. Commence my point: my existence is a lie and the absurdity of the English language deserves some comment from a victim of reprehensible nomenclature.


The guinea pig is a long-misidentified mammal, a member of the rodent family—not the pig—that has never stepped foot or paw in Guinea, despite the geographical implication of my denomination. I have not in my short lifespan ever snuffled in a mud pit whilst grubbing around for the food that a human may throw me. Actually, I have snuffled around in paper shavings in anticipation of a human offering me all sorts of desirable sustenance, so I suppose that is a poorly-used analogy.


For one who has dwelled at the feet of humans for their entire life, I have a lot to say about said species: you are ridiculous. You with your outrageous fur coats and embellished furnishings and ornaments of glass, prancing about the face of this earth as if you are the veritable masters of the universe. Which is ironic, because humans live to serve. They ingratiate themselves with their supposed superiors (who dictates the social hierarchy in the first place?) and even dedicate their time to domesticating animals for recreation. Clearly, I am the spawn of such frivolity, and let me just say, I got the better end of the deal.


I have known no life apart from my questionable place in the home of a pleasantly-affluent human family. Every night they feed me, water me, attempt to win my nonexistent affection through stroking and petting and soft cooing, and they even go so far as to remove all of my excretions from the territory. I am a laughably high-maintenance “pet” who gives little to nothing in return, yet my species is lauded as a common companion for young children of all ages. And perhaps my extensive needs may teach small (and therefore even more absurd) humans the painful art of responsibility. At least I hope my meager existence has brought some triumph to the world. If not, I shall have to content myself with taking over the world someday. When I find the time for it amidst my busy life, perhaps.


Back to the subject of human communication, I myself am a fiend for grammar. What else is a guinea pig to do, cooped up in two square feet of plastic and metal and paper all day, other than listen to the words and arguably not-even-words that come out of people’s overworking mouths all day? You all are so curiously inefficient: your doublespeak and subtle raising-of-various-body-parts is in no way superior to the squeak and shuffle of lower-class mammals like us. I do not so presume so much as to say I am a literate guinea pig, but I have noticed the rules of the English language are so inconsistent as to be ludicrous.

Do not, for whatever justification, create spelling schemes only to violate them more times than follow them. Do not classify specific noises as “consonants” and some as “vowels”, and then make something ambiguous at times. Do not order shapes a certain way and then make the sound waves differently for each phrase. Do not, additionally, attempt to teach a guinea pig to speak your language because 1) my tongue is such a different shape from yours that I could not make the noises you make if I tried, and 2) I do not want to try, so there.


Life is so strange. It is a phenomenon that radically different beasts such as you and I may exist on the same land (and are considered to be closely interrelated as well, much to my consternation). It is even more remarkable that humans, glorified and greedy apes, have become the dominant species of our home. Perhaps there is more to life than I think, given that I am, after all, only one of many casualties of misguided human thought. My duration of stay on this world consists mainly of sleeping and waking up whenever I want, eating and drinking whenever I want, squealing and calling for food whenever I want, and sucking up my human’s attention whenever I can. I neither create nor destroy, whereas humans are admirably proficient in both.


Humans live with the expectation of having accomplished something big before they die, of completing something that may or may not change the world. But there are ways to improve quality of life without manipulating others. Keep the fragile peace that exists in everyone’s life at some point or another. Find the gentle rhythm and sway that only shows up at mysterious intervals, only to dissipate again. And do not—I, the “guinea pig” repeat—do not attempt to impart on some other creature the comedic tragedy of your own misnomered thoughts.

The author's comments:

I used to have two guinea pigs who occupied much of my time and attention. I loved them nonetheless, and this piece serves as somewhat of a memoir, but in a humorous tone (hence my reluctance to include it in the category of memoirs, which might have seemed insensitive).

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