My last three undergraduate years at UVM were spent with an awesome group of people. I’ll never forget all the hours spent planning our annual haunted house, terrifying visitors by getting them utterly lost during a game of Sardines, or playing endless rounds of banagrams. I still stay in touch with many of them, and read their Facebook posts with interest. One girl in particular loves word games and so posts a riddle every week so people can comment with the answer. I’m really terrible at riddles, so I like making her laugh with my awful answers.
But it was a recent riddle that really made me think: “I have eight to spare and have hair all over.” I’m a pretty literal person, so something with hair all over HAS to be a mammal (…right?). And being science-minded, I unconsciously begin methodically categorizing every possible animal this could reference. 8 legs? Could be a spider. 8 whiskers? Hmmm…pretty sure dogs/cats/rats/horses/what-have-you have more than 8 whiskers. 8 phalanges? 8 lymph nodes? 8 hearts???
When I learn that the answer to the riddle is a cat, I feel a little panicked—cats have 8 somethings? I think to myself, I’m taking anatomy right now, how could I have missed this? I’m a failure, I know nothing, how can I call myself a vet student…Then my friend tells me it’s because cats have 9 lives. Since cats (usually) only use one life, the other eight are spares.
Answering this riddle made me realize how engrossed I am in my veterinary medicine studies. With 4-8 hours of lecture or lab, a lunch talk, then between 2-4 hours of studying, my days are pretty darn full of vet med. But as I sat there laughing, I realized that maybe I should get out more. Maybe I should spend more time around normal, non-vet people so that I can keep my head on straight.
Guess it’s time to start going to pub trivia again and try to remember there’s more to life than veterinary medicine.