Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Tripping the Trap Rat-tastic

You don't want to hear rustling about in your kitchen cabinets. You really don't want to open a kitchen drawer to find rat scat amongst the cloth napkins--so much for earning style points at that next dinner party. But my wife and I have recently had this very problem, and so now it's Us vs. Rats--This Time It's War.

I can deal with a world of micro-organisms on my eyelids and dust mites amok (not that our house is dusty or anything), but I don't relish the notion of larger vermin moving about unseen. But the rats have been busy in our detached garage, eating through the plastic airtight container for the extra dog food, and doing what rats seem to do best--defecate everywhere. I figure a rat's thoughts go like this, "There's nothing to do, so I better leave a trail of poop. " That thought is quickly followed by this second one, "Oh, look there's food! That makes me so happy I have to poop!"

We did a semi-nuclear cleaning of the garage, after buying a Shop-Vac (consumerism is next to cleanliness), and after donning plastic gloves and masks, and thought we were all set. Especially after nailing two rats in traps. Of course, it's my nature to fret the kill, even of these foul home invaders, and even more my nature to be covinced the rat will want to leave me some ugly disease as a legacy, so each time I jam my hand into a rubber glove (like hell one size fits all) to pick up the trap with deceased rat attached and bag it and dump into the garbage. (The first time Amy said, "Do you want two gloves?" and I almost replied, "Do you think I need two layers to be safe?" before realizing she meant one for each hand.)

But despite our fierce insistence that our problem is the rat, we've now killed three--two in the garage and one under the house. I still like to think of them one at a time, like gunfighters pulling into our dusty western town that we can dispatch as long as our aim holds steady, rather than an out-and-out invasion, with the once cute and actually black Michael Jackson singing the soundtrack as rodents swarm over us with tiny-pawed, gnawing glee.

I don't obsess about this, really I don't. But here I am a mortgage-owner, and the rats don't pump up my pride of ownership. If they could just get over transmitting disease and I could just get over my squeamishness, perhaps I could warm up to their almost cuteness. But they've peered out at me from the dark when I didn't know, and who knows what I was doing then, what other traps I might have been setting, maybe just the things I've allowed to let myself be caught up in. Rats know too much for their own good.

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