Something gerbil this way comes

Since the dawn of time Empty Nest Syndrome (ENS) has afflicted women around the world when the last of their younglings finally struck out on their own. Now recognized as a real condition by organizations like the American Psychology Association, symptoms can include feelings of loneliness, depression and grief.

But did you know there is a variant of this condition that has the potential to be even more heartbreaking and devastating? Sadly, as the first person to discover and classify this condition, I’m here to tell you that for me this wasn’t just another scientific discovery. I’m also personally afflicted.

I have dubbed the condition False Empty Nest Syndrome (FENS). Basically this condition is triggered when an expected period of ENS is interrupted, typically by a youngling who either fails to leave the nest as anticipated or returns to the nest unexpectedly after only a short period of time.

Incidentally, and I apologize in advance if this is too much scientific jargon, the term for a youngling that triggers onset of FENS is “gerbil.”

The common characteristics of the genus Modern American Gerbil are:

  • Typically a suburban male aged 21 or higher.
  • Voracious appetite with a particular fondness for food that belongs to others.
  • Usually a high school drop out who, in the intervening years, has invested little to no effort in working towards even a GED. (And also considers the word “college” to be base, vile and profane.)
  • Maintains an unusually-enhanced ability to mooch off others.
  • Common nutrition sources include beer, cigarettes, energy drinks (like Monster and Red Bull) and illegal drugs.
  • Lives in a space (a room, a corner of floor within a room, or even a sofa or comfy chair) that becomes tainted and has a smell similar to the inside of an overly used sweat-sock.
  • Can often go undetected for weeks leaving only telltale signs like empty containers of peanut butter and showing up unexpectedly at inopportune moments (like when you are naked).

Some gerbil behaviors can be fascinating. One in particular is deserving of extra examination. I call it The Deuce Run. This behavior usually happens when you haven’t seen the gerbil for a few days. The gerbil will show up, grunt some form of one-word greeting, then secrete itself in the nearest lavatory. At the conclusion of the visit, the gerbil will immediately depart, often completely undetected. In fact, in many cases, the only evidence of a gerbil visit during a deuce run will be the olfactory spore that lingers behind.

Please check back often for continuing coverage of FENS and the mysterious gerbil in this multi-part journal as I press on with my research.

13 responses

  1. This is an awesome post! Made me laugh, but is undeniably true. 🙂


    1. You just made my day. 🙂

      And I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the possible areas of research yet, either! This field is wide open.


  2. Congratulations on your research. I think I saw one of these. He actually had a tattoo of the Monster Drink logo on his arm.


    1. Yep. That’s definitely one of the signs!


  3. […] Note: This is Part Two in our ongoing team coverage of False Empty Nest Syndrome (or […]


  4. Hi, I read this after reading part Two. (My excuse is that I was out of town and didn’t have my own computer…) Too hilarious! The part about the smell was too much! Our 23-three-old son lives in a little apartment in the basement, newly finished, and it didn’t take very long for the space to take on a certain funky odor….He does have a full-time job, but it doesn’t pay much, but apparently enough to keep FedEx fully employed delivering boxes of gadgets to our doorstep.


  5. […] Editor’s Note: This report filed by shoutabyss is the fourth in a series of our ongoing team coverage of False Empty Nest Syndrome (or FENS). If you’ve missed our previous coverage, “gerbil” is the term we’ve come up with to describe a youngling who fails to leave the nest, thus triggering the onset of “False Empty Nest Syndrome.” […]


  6. oooooh!!!! Now I get it. I was a gerbil for awhile – I should be embarrassed about that, but you can’t change the past. heehee


    1. Don’t tell anyone, but I was part gerbil, too. I guess the gerbil doesn’t stray that far from the nest. Or maybe it takes one to know one. Or something like that. 🙂

      My parents tried to stop feeding me by ordering anchovies on their pizza. It worked!


  7. […] Editor’s Note: This report filed by shoutabyss is another piece in our ongoing series of team coverage of False Empty Nest Syndrome (or FENS). If you’ve missed our previous coverage, “gerbil” is the term we’ve come up with to describe a youngling who fails to leave the nest, thus triggering the onset of “False Empty Nest Syndrome.” […]


  8. […] Another huge meme on the blog is the “gerbil.” That’s my own slang for a youngster who grows up but is completely irresponsible and fails to leave the house, thus delaying the onset of Empty Nest Syndrome. This led to the creation of the Gerbil Research Institute of Parental Edification (GRIPE). The first gerbil post, however, didn’t actually take place until Jan. 21, 2010. (See: Something gerbil this way comes.) […]


  9. […] was a period of time where the gerbil disappeared and we thought that our bout of False Empty Nest Syndrome (FENS) woes were finally over, but it was a false alarm. The case has merely shifted to an […]


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