Welcome to the Hamster Hotel

Reading blurrpy.com earlier this week, I came upon a link to a most wondrous thing. Some design firm called O*GE Creative (the asterisk adds a lovely note of pretension, don’t you find?) created a giant, human-habitable bird nest:

The giant birds’ nest was created “as a prototype for new and inspiring socializing space, which can be seen as a morph of furniture and playground … Ready to to be used, to be played in, and be worked in.” I think it’s a marvelous idea, and one I am certain to have in my house, once I win the lottery and begin establishing my network of seasonal homes across the globe. But a work space? The thought of clambering into this thing with my colleagues to discuss our latest projects gives me the heebies. It would feel way too much like climbing into bed and I really want to stop thinking about it. Besides, I sometimes have a terrible time staying awake in meetings, and nestling into this, well, nest would be like mainlining an Ambien drip straight into my cerebellum, or whatever part of the brain gives me that happy tired feeling at the end of the day.

So I won’t be pushing to have the giant birds’ nest installed in our office anytime soon. But it did remind me of an idea I had a long time ago that I can’t seem to let go of. It concerns hamsters.

Hamsters, you may have observed, tend to live in little plastic or wire enclosures with everything they need: food, water bottle, exercise wheel, toilet paper tube (not sure what that’s about, I think they like to climb in it, and besides, it’s not like you don’t have a million of them lying around) and, on the floor, some kind of bedding or nesting material, usually wood shavings. I bet that the simplicity of the hamster existence — eat, drink, run around a bit, sleep and pee and crap in the shavings — can exert a primal, healing influence on stressed-out humans. My idea then was to adapt the hamster habitat into a unique retreat: the hamster hotel.

The hamster hotel room is large, about 500 square feet. It has no furniture. It has a ceiling-mounted flatscreen TV, which you watch while lying on your back. A slot in the wall dispenses your food and drink on demand, whatever you want whenever you want. There is no fancy table service. There is, for a modest upgrade charge and if you really feel you need it, a piece of exercise equipment such as a treadmill or stationary bike. You can have a giant cardboard roll if you want; it might be fun to climb in it. There are no toilets, no baths or showers. The temperature is a steady 85 degrees. And you’re naked. Did I forget to mention that? No clothes allowed in the hamster hotel. But you know what you do have?

Shavings. Atop the industrial-grade rubber floor is a comforting, aromatic bed of wood shavings a foot and a half thick. You can lie on it. Roll around on it. Burrow into it. Make shavings angels in it. Throw great handfuls of it into the air and watch it flutter back down. Turn onto your side and spin Curly-style. And when you’re done, breathe a contented sigh and lie back in the shavings … the soft, feathery embrace of the shavings.

Wait a minute, you’re saying — what about my bed? And I ask, do I have to draw you a diagram? You are living the hamster life. Do what hamsters do: build up a nice mound of shavings and nestle into it. The temperature is high enough to lull you into a state of warm, animal-like contentment. Have you ever stepped into a bath so perfectly aligned with your body temperature that you almost can’t feel the water at all? That is what it’s like to snuggle naked into the shavings for a night’s sleep. And if for some reason you feel the primal fear of being preyed upon or feel especially vulnerable sleeping nude, you can always crawl into the giant cardboard tube for a nap away from threatening eyes.

You noticed above that there is no toilet in the room. Well, you don’t see hamsters futzing around with toilets, do you? Just pick a corner and do whatever you need to do right on the spot, kicking over some fresh shavings to cover it. Our premium-quality shavings naturally absorb odor and moisture. Or better yet, just lie there, staring up at your big-screen ceiling TV, and let it come. That’s right. When you’re done, roll over to a new spot or stay there and let it dry. Seriously, you have no idea how liberating this is — it’s enough to make you question the entire premise of civilization itself.

Most clients find a single day’s accommodation at the Hamster Hotel sufficient, and they return to their lives with a renewed vigor and sense of purpose. A few hardy or needful souls stay for days, even weeks, gradually shedding the burdens of their humanity and embracing the hamster within. We like to think of it as “going native,” the act of leaving behind such confining constructs as career, parenthood, family, even speech and bipedal locomotion. Can living in a pile of wood refuse, nude and crawling and rooting like an animal really be worth those things? Wouldn’t you love to find out?

Well, sometimes the marketer in me takes over and I get a little carried away. This is my vision, such as it is. Perhaps it can come true once I’ve won the lottery, after I’m set up with a few giant birds’ nests.