Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Me and the Rat

I have an aversion to rodents.  Not jump-up-on-the-chairs-holding-my-skirts-and-shrieking drama, but, while they are cute, I just don't care to hold or cuddle the little things.

Flash back to me, age 5 or 6.  We had rabbits in hutches.  I have not confirmed this with either parent, so this is childhood memories we're going on here, but I do seem to remember that there were a series of rabbit cages in our tiny shed-like garage, with bunnies in each.  Bunnies that my brother Jason and I would feed... mom would give us carrots or celery or lettuce and we would scamper out to the garage and feed our "pets".  

The rabbit I considered mine (sadly its name has been lost in the sands of time) was always happy for a treat and would hop over to nibble whatever tidbit that was given to her.  I loved watching her little nose quivering and, one day, I couldn't resist and stuck my finger in the cage to stroke it.  

As you can guess, she mistook pudgy little-girl finger for a carrot and bit me.  It was not much later the rabbits all "went down the road" as we say in my family.  Some of them my dad butchered for food, and the others a man with a truck full of rabbit hutches came by and picked up.  So much for "pets".... these bunnies had been raised as a food supply (I only state this so no one thinks my being bitten had anything to do with it.)

Ever since the biting incident rodents and I have walked separate paths.

Until this week.

I took my youngest sister to a local pet store so she could return a fish tank sealant that she no longer needed.  On our way there she told me about this cute rat she had seen in the shop the week prior and about how it didn't bite, but licked people and gave the sweetest of "little nibbles".  

Yeah, yeah, whatever.

We arrived at the shop and while she was busy with her return I located the rat in question.  He was cute, in a beady-eyed sort of way, and he was certainly affectionate.  He kept hanging from the wire-mesh cover of his cage where he could stick a nose out and beg for someone to pick him up.

Against my better judgement, I lowered a finger.  Sure enough, licks and nibbles.... and no bite.

My sister came over, followed by "Barnacle" Bill, the owner of the shop.  Bill reached down, opened the cage, pulled out this bundle of rat and set it in my sister's hands.  Promptly the rat scurried up into her hair where it seemed perfectly happy to stay (not that I blame it, my sister's hair is currently a glorious shade of Autumn Fire that I could never pull off).  He then started climbing back and forth from one shoulder to another, acting as if he was the happiest little rat on the planet.

I stroked its soft baby fur and thought to myself, "okay, maybe not all rats are bad".  After all, my other sister had kept rats in the past, so how bad could it be?

Lets zip ahead an hour and change the scene to my sister's house.  Brisby, as the rat has now been named, is now climbing on my shoulders and snuffling in my hair, when all of the sudden there comes this.... smell.

"Ugh", I said, handing the rat over.  "I think it peed on me."  Funny though, I couldn't feel any wetness, but boy did I stink.

I couldn't wait to get home... in fact, I would swear the smell was getting stronger with each passing moment.

I got home, stripped off everything I was wearing and went to jump in the shower when something fell out of my hair and hit the floor.

Please be a piece of lint, I thought.

Oh no, the fates were not that kind. 



And with that I took the hottest shower I have taken in years.  My hair was shampooed several times, and there was not an inch of me that was not scrubbed and scrubbed again with my mesh loofah.  Even after my shower I still felt gross, even though I was certainly clean.

And thus ends my short truce with all things rodent... 

I think I need another shower.

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