On the care and feeding of dinosaurs

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.

39 responses to “On the care and feeding of dinosaurs

  • starrhillgirl

    This is one of the best things I’ve read in recent memory. I really, really wish you hadn’t had to write it.
    Hang tight. Lots of love.

      • Elissa

        Ditto again. So beautifully crafted but so horribly sad. Having read your recent posts I just don’t know what to say primarily because I can never reach the poetically magical level of your writing (or really even get within a comfortable distance).
        But know that there are those far away wishing that they had some kind of made dinosaur wrangling skills that could remove all the dinosaurs from your life as if they never existed.

  • Jo

    No words, just love. Thinking of you.

  • F. U. Velociraptor (@fuvelociraptor)

    H had no business making his velociraptor your non-rent-paying roommate. Does he know what rent costs in London – even for a comfy under-bed or back-of-the-sock-drawer space? That velociraptor owes you what it has cost. Given that velociraptors very rarely carry cash, you’ve no choice but to put it out on the damp sidewalk on its exceedingly scaly backside.

    Whatever you do, for your own sanity, do not look the velociraptor in the eye. They are slippery little suckers and will do their level best to convince you that they were only just leaving anyhow and the damage wasn’t much, was it? No more than one might expect of an especially boisterous party. Who doesn’t love a good party? No, it’s almost as though the dinosaur was never here at all. They are ever so easy to get rid of. And, anyway, plenty of people have dinosaurs. Who are you to judge, the dinosaur’s owner may say, not having had one of your own?

    Turn away. Stride briskly to the exit or, better yet, throw the dinosaur’s owner out it. Whatever you do, do not look back; that way madness lies. Dinosaurs can begin to look quite small when you put a little distance between yourself and them.

    Take care of yourself and don’t hesitate to call the authorities, if warranted. They love a good dinosaur tale.

  • Betttina

    Oh, sweetheart. I have nothing useful to share but you are constantly in my thoughts and prayers.

  • Mel

    That is the awful thing: that this is one of the most fantastic things I’ve ever ever read but I’m terribly sad you had to write it at all.

  • Nicky

    I am so happy to read your blog again, but so very very sad to hear of the velociraptor under your bed. There are no adequate words.

    Love. Healing. Tea, Gin, and Chocolate.

  • Hairy Farmer Family

    ‘Grief and loss come to us all, the persistent little shits’ is such a peach of a phrase, but how I wish, May, oh, HOW I wish, that you had known something other than grief and loss and disappointment for so very long now.

    I, as you know, am twitchy regarding dinosaurs in the house. I catch a strong whiff of apatosaur among J’s friends sometimes. And before I know it, I have built a dinosaur-repelling sandbag wall around the house, because That Thing Is Not Coming In The House. Despite this, I am fairly sure I, too, would miss the signs and spore of velociraptor. (My, but hasn’t that chicken got such a _funny_ squawk, bless him!) I think they must have a tendency to stockpile their droppings in a cupboard, just to make their eventual discovery that little bit more shocking.

    (I don’t incidentally, think of myself as an ex-smoker, ever. I think of myself as a smoker who hasn’t had a cigarette for 12 years.)

  • g

    Oh, May…

    May your velociraptor choke on it’s mistakes….

  • Dr Spouse

    I’ve just read your last post and this one and I am so, so sorry for what is happening. I am also very glad that we may hear more from you, under whatever conditions – because I would miss you if you didn’t write lovely posts about very very non lovely things.

  • NotSoNewtoIVF

    Sending you so much strength. You have lots already but you can never have too much. Some hugs too xx

  • sheila

    I know this is little consolation but this piece just proves how talented a writer you really are….

  • boringyear

    Tragic, brilliant writing. I am so sorry.

  • infertilelady

    It really is a beautiful piece of writing, about a truly shitty situation. I send hugs and thoughts of chocolate your way… and hope that, soon, you will be writing terrible pieces about glorious situations (as you’ll be too busy enjoying them of course, not that you’ll be a bad writer). Ok, this comment isn’t going too well but believe me, the thoughts are there. Take care of yourself xx.

  • Mina

    Incidentally, the correct terminology always involves a fucking before the name of each such dinosaur.
    So, I’ve watched those fucking Apatosaurus wreck my family piece by piece. What started out as a beautiful, loving family ended up as a pitiful series of lonely individuals who love to hate each other, both the love and the hate coexisting, but not mitigating each other; at times the individuals rage with regret and sorrow, but they are still fucking Apatosaurus, they tear, and rip flesh, and leave one inconsolable alone. They deny being dinosaurs at all, they might possible even think of themselves as bunnies with an eating disorder or who knows. Whatever they are, they are not to blame for the distroyed home in front of them, because when one denies their nature, the past and present is altered. Both my husband and I come from Apatosaurus, on his side there also the Giganotosaurus and the Triceratops of Marital Infidelity. Actually, the last one was in my family as well, and it was the first dinosaur who bred and branched into the rest. My, my, don’t we come from a lovely lot…
    May, love, I am so sorry. It does not help you, nor anyone else, that I and some other strangers feel sorry for you, but you have to know that my, and others’ hearts are so broken that you are going through this. It’s like you are in this loss and heartbreak club, and you take out your wallet to put your card inside, and people around you notice that you are carrying other cards as well, like the multiple fucking dinosaur cards, and tears start to flow, and similar cards are silently taken out of wallets, and recognition and sorrow to meet another card-carrier is visible in the eyes that look at you.
    I am persuaded that these dinosaurs are actually Dementors. We should do a case study, because even when merely mentioned, joy and will to live suddenly flee. It can’t be just a coincidence. So, May, wand out, and repeat again and again: EXPECTO PATRONUM.
    Velociraptor, since we’re at it, sod off. Sod off exceedingly.

  • Melissa

    You have such a way of weaving these posts, of describing how you feel and it breaks my heart that you’ve been through things of this description. If only we could form a hunting party and rid the world of all the velociraptors and various other dinosaurs that stalk you. I so wish we could.

  • thalia

    oh my love. I just got a clue from your fbook post and came over here to see what was up. You, as usual, write like a dream but it sounds like a fucking awful situation and I am just gutted that you have to deal with it.

    If you want somewhere to stay short term our house in london is nearly renovated and quite liveable in so long as you don’t mind the occasional builder and we aren’t in it.


  • a

    My sympathies…it’s just not fair. And this just leads to self-doubt, because you smelled that dinosaur, but were convinced (by the keeper) it wasn’t there.

  • staciet

    Sending hugs and strength your way. I am so very sorry.

  • KeAnne

    What a stunning post about a horrible situation. I am so sorry 😦 But…don’t velociraptors come in pairs?

    • May

      I’m not sure what you mean. Are you suggesting H might have another pet velociraptor somewhere about the place, or are you suggesting I personally have a dinosaur of my very own I have conveniently failed to mention, despite the fact I assured everyone in the above post I jolly well do NOT?

  • Wordgirl

    I haven’t visited in a while. Haven’t been visiting anyone in a while. Haunted by my own effing dinosaurs maybe.

    I get this post so deeply and so viscerally. Even the wish to be an eyeball pecking Raven. I don’t peck eyeballs either but I probably should learn to.


    I wish I had something other to say than I see you. I get it right down into my bones.

    And that I am here. Reading your words.



  • twangy

    So well-written I can smell them too. I can feel the terrifying feckers.

    I am so sorry you’ve been revisited by this horror (if in different form). It is unfair in epic, enormous proportions when you’ve taken every measure and been nothing but brave and intelligent in your own life.

  • jane

    I wish i wasn’t reading such a painful, beautiful and eloquent post. Hoping in the storms and grey skies both literal and metaphorical have chinks of light x

  • katyboo1

    Beautiful writing. Horrible things to write. I hear you. xx

  • bkwyrm

    Oh May. I wish rotten things only happened to people who deserve them.

  • Stinky Weaselteats

    Gah. LOVE this post for being so incredibly well-written but also do not love what it is saying. Fucking hell, love 😦 Haven’t read post before yet but I’m getting the drift

  • deathstar44

    Yes, those velicoraptors. Small and vicious. I remembered Jurassic Park and it brought back all those dreams I used to have when I was a little girl about dinosaurs. Make up your mind to survive this, please. Somehow, you will make it.

  • jjiraffe

    This post is so haunting. I’ve read it a number of times now. And while my own childhood was dinosaur-free, both my parents grew up with the dinosaurs you describe in the beginning of your post, and this post finally has made their experience click for me.

    It has also made me realize how brave and good they were and are in maintaining a dinosaur-free home. As are you.

    Sending many, many hugs from across the pond.

  • Valery Valentina

    I don’t speak dinosaur so well. Thinking of you, thinking of H, thinking of denial and wondering if this was IF related at all (as in the wrong coping mechanism)

  • Lucy

    Here from stirrup queens thanking you for this incredible, heart wrenching piece of writing, and wishing you the strength for the difficult time ahead.

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