The Guinea Pig Races

In my elementary school, pets were a big thing. Class pets like rabbits or chickens were owned by a few lucky classrooms, and pets like goldfish and frogs were owned by the less fortunate. Our classroom ended up with guinea pigs.

At first, I was excited. Who could turn down furry, pig-like, hamsterish-mouse things? But then, I found out the truth:  guinea pigs were smelly, sniffly rats that waited until you decided to hold them to pee. Could this really be the classroom pet?

“Come on, eat it,” Ryan whined at the guinea pigs. Ryan, Matthew, and I were standing in the loft in our third grade classroom. The loft was where the bookshelf, blocks, and pillows were. Unlike the second and first grade classrooms, the loft actually had wooden stairs leading up to it. The only downside to this amazing loft was the smell, the smell of guinea pig poop mixed with squashed stinkbugs.

“Eat it you fat rats!” Ryan was getting impatient. So far they hadn’t liked the fries, or the grapes we had tried to feed them. And, there wasn’t much else you could do with these “pets” besides feed them. They weren’t very hard to catch, but if you held them for more than a few seconds, you were in danger of being peed on.

“Why don’t we build a guinea pig race?” Matthew blurted out suddenly. We all agreed it was an excellent idea.

So, we got out the blocks and built a twisty maze with two openings, and put them at the entrance. Matthew held “Caramel” a few inches above the ground. Ryan did the same with “Coco.”

“On your mark,” I shouted in my loudest indoor voice, “get set, go!”

Matthew and Ryan put the guinea pigs down. Coco waddled in the opposite direction, and then sat down. Caramel ran in circles a few times and sped off toward the stairs. We ran after him, me holding Coco. He got about halfway down the stairs before we caught him.

We put them back in their cages, right before recess ended.

* * *

About two weeks later, Matthew had another idea (Two ideas in one month! He was on fire!). We would hold a Guinea Pig Tournament.

By this time we had learned the guinea pigs’ favorite foods. Matthew was Caramel’s trainer, so he brought in spinach in every morning, and Ryan was Coco’s trainer so he brought in lettuce. I was the race builder, so I would construct the races while they were getting ready. We had figured out how to coax the guinea pigs through the maze holding their favorite treats right in front of them. I decided to “up” my game, and made a race so confusing that the trainers could get lost in it.

Then began the guinea pig races. Everyday at recess we would hold races. But, fate was on Caramel’s side the day of the tournament because Ryan had run out of lettuce. He came in with a shameful substitute, kale. Coco would never give his all for kale. That day went down in guinea pig history.

I set up the race. Matthew ran around the room with Caramel going faster than they had ever gone before. Meanwhile, Coco and Ryan were having more trouble. Coco would stumble a few feet and then decide it wasn’t worth the effort. Then stumble a few more feet. We all felt sorry for Coco, and even more so for Ryan, by the time the race started.

“On your mark. Get set. Go!” I said for the last time during the tournament.

Matthew put Caramel down, as did Ryan with Coco. I closed the guinea pigs in the maze as Ryan and Matthew wielded the vegetables. Ryan scrambled around the maze so as to not knock it over while Coco followed. Coco was putting no more effort into the race than he did during practice.

However, back at the start of the maze, Matthew was trying to coax a sitting Caramel to run. Nothing he did would work.  He touched her nose with the spinach, but she just sat on the brown-green carpet, uninterested.

Matthew was getting desperate; Ryan was almost at the end. Just then there was a clang as Ryan knocked over a block.

The rules stated he had to pick up the knocked over blocks before he continued again. Coco, not understanding that he needed to stop, started to turn after Ryan turned around to pick up the block. Before he was all the way lost, Ryan was facing him with the kale.

And then, Caramel moved.

Everything stopped. I could almost hear the crickets chirping. Right where Caramel was there was a giant guinea pig pee stain. It had turned the carpet from green-brown, to brown-black. I quickly rushed down to get paper towels just as the bell rang. In a few minutes, 22 kids were going to come up here to read aloud.

When I came back up, the blocks were put away and the guinea pigs back in their cages. But no matter how many paper towels we used, you could still see the GGPPS (giant guinea pig pee stain.)

We quickly threw away the paper towels and sat as far away from the GGPPS as possible. Kids started coming in, positioning themselves far from the questionable stain. We hoped someone would sit on it so that the teachers didn’t see. A couple of times, less observant kids almost sat on it, but friends would hurry them away. In the end all of us were crammed around the edges and not a single person was sitting within a half a foot of the GGPPS.

At the time, I thought maybe the teachers didn’t notice the GGPPS. But the next day, the stain was washed out.  If you look hard enough, you can still see the outline in the faded carpet. After that, though, whenever someone sat on the GGPPS, we would laugh, remembering the guinea pig races.

Lydia Cunitz is an eighth grader at the Friends Select School. She lives in Mt. Airy with her mom, dad, sister, and dog, Lucy. Her favorite writing style is poetry.