When I was a very little May indeed, I lived in a home, a variety of homes, all bang-full of dinosaurs. They were very obvious dinosaurs, mind. My parents, bless them, did many a time and oft play the Dinosaur Denial Hopscotch, the whole standing in front of the house door to talk to a visitor, trying to hide the torn sleeve and smear of dinosaur drool down the chest, ‘the thumping noise inside? What thumping noise? Oh, that thumping noise… Oh, I’m sure the children are playing a game… umm, my husband is playing a game… is a little tired… and angry…’ while the windows rattled and brick dust fell from the walls.
But, ultimately, if you have an Apatosaurus of Alcoholism, you can’t hide it from the people inside the house. It will knock over furniture, stagger into walls, bellow, step on feet, shit on guests, and occasionally crush small children against walls. It is ultimately bigger than the house. It is certainly bigger than a frightened child, and frankly incapable of seeing said frightened child from its lofty and pea-brained view-point, head wedged in the attic while its feet flail about in the kitchen.
Or say you have a Giganotosaurus of Domestic Violence and Emotional Abuse. The damn thing is 40 feet tall and also, therefore, doesn’t really fit in the house. It has eight-inch teeth, and it bites. Or threatens to bite. Or stands over you, drooling bloody remnants of its previous victim into your hair while it watches you pee yourself in terror at the prospect of a biting. When it finally leaves, it rips the doorframe out with it. It has already destroyed the floors.
I would recognise a dinosaur like that if it turned up in my house now. I have an anti-tank rocket launcher in the wardrobe for just that eventuality.
However, growing up in a house of dinosaurs has done damage to my sense of smell. Or my faith in my sense of smell. Is this dinosaur I smell? It smells like dinosaur. But there are no dinosaurs in here. I’d know if there were dinosaurs, because there would be noise and damage and claw-marks, right? And a howling great thing stampeding about the living-room, making it seriously unwise to go in there. It’s just a funny smell, right? H, can you smell dinosaur? No? Are you sure? Well, you must be right, because I haven’t got bloody saliva in my hair. I’m paranoid because of my childhood.
No dinosaurs. Nuh-uh.
Only, I hadn’t considered velociraptors. They’re about the size of labradors, they fit under beds quite comfortably. They have feathers, and it is possible to pick one up, especially in its infancy, and say ‘this here is actually a chicken. A chicken. That is what it is’ and be quite convincing. Moderately convincing. Certainly convincing to someone who has been trained to think of dinosaurs as unignorably fucking enormous (but still, that persistent smell of theropods in the morning. Birds are descended from theropods, right?).
And the terrible thing about velociraptors is, they can still rip your jugular vein out through your spine. Just because they haven’t destroyed the bathroom and broken through the neighbour’s fence, it doesn’t mean they’re not dinosaurs. That they’re not quietly ripping the joists out from the bedroom floor, splinter by splinter. That the one who brought them into the house isn’t lying and hiding them and insisting they’re not there and not a problem and who the hell needs floor joists and unlacerated ankles anyway?
Acting, basically, just like the proud owners of the unbearably obvious Apatosaurus or Giganotosaurus.
Grief and loss come to us all, the persistent little shits. Most of us deal with it by weeping and howling and going catatonic for a few days and being horribly depressed and over-eating or under-eating and getting drunk and not sleeping and maybe taking antidepressants or sleeping pills as needed until we can get our balance back. Some few damaged souls, whose childhoods were… unfortunate (in any of a trillion ways, vide Tolstoy), and who learned all the wrong lessons from that, take up dinosaur-wrangling instead.
Which of course they can handle, while the fucking little horror is still in the egg at least.
(Imagine how differently this would’ve all played out if H had come to me four years ago and said ‘so, May, I’ve got this velociraptor egg, and I don’t know what to do…’)
I come from a dinosaur-owning family, I am a prime candidate for a dinosaur all of my own, and yet I dealt with grief, loss, physical agony and near-death experiences by weeping, vomiting, ranting at you my noble Gentle Readers, and eating expensive chocolate in unhealthy quantities from time to time. I rarely drank. I was absurdly careful about even taking prescribed drugs like codeine and tramadol, because I knew therein lay a tiny, tiny, pretty little pterodactyl egg all of my own I could inadvertently nurture. I have never smoked, because I knew if I did I wouldn’t ever stop. I have a hot, hot temper, but I fought it down, over and over, and made it behave. Actually made it into a new evolved pecky budgerigar of a temper (possibly went a bit far in turning it into a budgerigar. Should’ve kept it at raven level. Ravens eat eyeballs occasionally. Eyeballs need eating occasionally).
H also comes from a dinosaur-owning family. But, oh, they were so very, very much better at denial than my lot. Possibly because they kept to smaller dinosaurs.
And it breaks my heart, that I dragged myself onwards, pterodactyl-free, adamant about the importance of remaining pterodactyl-free for H’s sake if nothing else, while H hid a velociraptor in our home.