If I Say It’s a Rat…

            Today I rescued a small animal from my pool. I suppose it’s a stretch to say, “rescued” since the animal was already dead, but nevertheless, he was stranded on the bottom, and I brought him up. It was so big, I’d spotted him through my kitchen window and almost cried because I thought it might be a bunny. I scooped him out gently with the net, an act that was pretty easy because once I nudged him, he floated up like a weightless thing. Really, he was bloated, and his arms and legs stretched out as if maybe he’d tried to gallop in a valiant yet hopeless attempt to outrun death. 

            I should have taken a photograph so I could show you proof of my humaneness, but I’m not sure what the rules are for posting death online. Whatever the legal way to dispose of a dead creature is, I did that. I’m sure it was a rat, but the last time I saved a rat was when it had gotten its neck snapped in our pool vacuum and I said to my husband, “It’s a rat!” and he was like, “You’re ridiculous. It’s a mouse.” His opinion didn’t prevent my having to dislodge his water-logged body—the rat’s, not my husband’s—from inside the vacuum where he’d been duly clamped between two rollers. 

            Since we’ve been living in the city-country of good ol’ Escondido, I’ve become accustomed to the small things scaring the shit out of me when they scurry from behind the trash bin to the bush. I’m also now familiar with the terrifying sounds of coyotes, and I’ve learned that nobody, probably, is being murdered but that a pack of these feral dogs is closing in on a kill and showing excitement in the form of soul-shaking high-pitched squeals and screeches. I also now know to expect that when I open my windows at night, I voluntarily let in the pungent aroma of feral urine. 

            I’ve almost been killed by snakes, and when I say “almost,” I mean it was probably a garden snake and I didn’t get stupid enough or close enough to discern its venomous potential. 

Also, I once scooped up a bloodied rat with a shovel. It had given birth in my garage before proceeding to die, which became obvious to me when the accompanying clot revealed itself to be a rat fetus. 

   When I said to my husband, “Oh, it’s a dead rat and baby,” he was like, “Come on, it’s only a mouse,” as if those minor details made any difference whatsoever in this situation. He’s never above stating the obvious especially when such comments are to distinguish between my hysteria and his rational truth. He’s smart, for sure, but I’m the one doing the saving and scooping and legal disposing, so if I say it’s a rat, a rat it is. 

            Be thankful I spared you a picture of that. And of this one today, with his wet, glistening fur, soul gone to rat heaven or wherever it may be—who knows whether this rodent lived a well-examined, charitable life. 

            And on this day, as I write to you from my place of work (which is my home—on a lop-sided couch, blanket over my legs because I get cold) and braless, which I’m not sure makes me more free. I’m pretty sure it just makes me more vulnerable, so let that be a lesson. It doesn’t matter what the truth is sometimes–it’s your perspective that carries the most weight. And if you’ve got one, you’re ahead of the game. 

            Happy Thursday. May it be ratless, cozy, and safe, and may you always know which side of the argument you’re on. 

Disclaimer: This is not meant to be a political statement, but if you discover one, consider yourself warned. I hereby release myself of any and all partisan responsibility. You’re on your own. Tread carefully because you never know when you may be running along peacefully and find the ground under your feet replaced, without warning, by a deep hole filled with water waiting to drown you.