Note-- If you're a hater of non-PG13 language or a lover of rats, do not read on. Sorry, Mom(s).
In real life, Splinter is not so cute.
Tonight, B & I were awake late, some of us Bar prepping and some of being supportive during the commercial breaks of Teen Mom. We heard a rattling, like pipes expanding in winter, and gave it a pass figuring that our neighbors must be tinkering or moving things around. Clearly we're knee-deep in Bar prep as it didn't occur to us that 1am was a logical time for such type of work.
After a few minutes ("What are they DOING?"), B goes to investigate. Twice. Figure it must be the neighbors, as we can hear them through our guest bath at times. Then I go to investigate, get as far as the end of the table, and make B go again.
Turns out it is coming from our guest bath, but not through the walls. Through the VENT. B points that the vent covering is literally hopping around, shaking and popping up from the floor. He starts to pick up a corner of the covering (PICK UP A CORNER!), and drops it when it moves again.
I close the sliding door so that only an inch shows and peek through as he arms himself with a plunger and tries to see what's going on. In hindsight, what the hell did we think it was? Santa?
I grab a flashlight and squeeze it in to him through the crack in the door. He shines it down through the vent covering and, like a moth to the flame, this HUGE RAT presses itself up against the vent covering, curling its freaky long tail through the vents.
How is it doing that? Is there another rat giving him a leg up? Do we have the world's first planking rat?
B calmly yells, "Holy FUCKtard!" as he peers at the rat, which stretches the full length of the vent, making it at least a foot long, easy, including its tail.
He leaves the plunger there and goes to the weight bench (which I'm suddenly oh-so glad to have in our art deco-style apartment) and proceeds to weigh down each vent covering with a 10 or 15 pounder, which I hope will keep Big Mama at bay overnight.
Let's just say my email to the landlord can best be summed up with "What the HELL are you going to do about this, and WHEN??"
For those of you who don't know me so well, I hate...nature. Ok, that's a stretch. I love beaches (not sand) and swimming (not salt water); I love sunsets (with bug spray) and morning walks (with my sunglasses and visor). I can claim that I camped all through elementary school (what's up, brownies?) and even undertook a week-long camping trip in upstate New York with Princeton's finest ROTC reps, two Eagle Scouts, and several tri-athletes. That's a story for another day, and perhaps why nature and I are on less than super terms these days.
Fact: I once called B, who lived hours (and timezones) away when I found a roach in my Birmingham apartment. The call, and the roach killing, took approximately 45 minutes and consisted of me crying, screaming (intermittently-- I'm no wuss), and almost agreeing with B's suggestion: Call your friend Joanna. Did I mention it, too, was after midnight? Maybe I need to go to bed earlier. But then, I wouldn't have heard the rat, it would've gotten in, and I certainly would've stumbled across it in our recycling after B went to work and spent the rest of my day up on the table cursing myself for not charging my cell phone. As it is, I may go to work with him tomorrow anyway.
"B," I asked, "Am I being too sensitive? Is our landlord going to think I'm crazy and say, 'It's just a rat.'?"
B replies, "Did you see the SIZE of that thing? I know I'm not helping your freakout, but, no, you are NOT overreacting here."
My one positive insect encounter is with Vern, a regular fly who we first noticed on our ceiling the week we moved in. We found it odd that, three days later, he hadn't so much inched from his perch over our couch. As the weeks went by, we realized that Vern had to have had the terrible luck to land on a freshly painted ceiling and, most certainly, starved to death. The only remaining question is whether the landlord painted the ceiling before we moved in. Or, rather, if Vern's been up there for 12 months or four years.
We had pets when I was little. The dogs always fared well, though I somehow convinced a friend of mine that one of our ancient dogs died not from natural canine causes but rather through poison from our (non existent) Chinese neighbors. I begged for a chinchilla but, thankfully, did not get one. "You know people make coats out of those things," my Mom told me.
For the record, it takes between 130 and 200 chinchilla to make a coat, which must mean there are literal farms somewhere of them. It has to be the cutest, saddest place ever.
It was the other pets that didn't do so well. I had a fish from my elementary school carnival that lived for four years (Mom and Dad were thrilled about that, I'm sure), but then I also had hermit crabs, a "must have" after my best friend came home with two from the beach.
Let's just say that the hermit crabs clamped down on my best friend's finger, forcing my Mom to force the pinchers open (and not with dark chocolate or a pint-size chinchilla coat), and then nobody wanted to touch the hermit crabs again.
In fifth grade, we learned about eggs and hatching and... oh who knows, but either way we hatched things in our classroom that year. Ducks, guinea hens, they were all up for grabs. I signed up for a duck and I just know Mom was thrilled when I brought home two, "to keep the first one company!"
The ducks (still cute and tiny) lived in my bathtub for one day, until I realized that they smell and don't take well to soap. We lived on the lake so we moved them out into the large dog pen we had in the back yard by the woods. In hindsight, my parents must have realized that the damn things would take flight soon enough and head for the river.
So I wasn't too shocked when the ducks disappeared. "They must've made a run for the river," my Mom said as we stared at the empty pen.
I was telling B this story in college, trying to explain to him what my life was like growing up. When I got the part of the story where the ducks vanished, he nodded knowingly and said, "Oh right, your dog ate them."
Cue me, wide eyed, "What??? NO! They went to the RIVER! They swam AWAY!"
Realizing that he'd really stepped in it, B started to back pedal, but the damage was done. "Come on," he said, as kindly as he could, "You had a huge dog, the ducks were tiny; what did you really think happened?"
When I called my Mom to accuse her of hiding the cruel world from my fifth grade self, she said, "Oh, the dog. Maybe. We always figured the owls got them." What??? Owls? In my little backyard pen, I'd created, literally, sitting ducks. An owl buffet, if you will.
So, like I said, nature and I? We've had our days. I realize that if B & I ever decide to adopt (or I'm ever questioned for torturing small animals), I will have to burn this post, which I'm told is quite difficult to do. (Technology and I aren't super tight either).
Pray for us, and that rat, who is about to meet his maker, I can assure you that. When you pray for me, make sure to include a note that I won't take a hit for searching "How many chinchillas does it take to make a coat" on a work computer.
PS-- B says that bathroom smells like rat now. Awesome.