Slobs and Rats
In a former life, I was a cat. Well, that at least is what my feline friends tell me. But I hold that my relationship with them is due to one of my inner children, who is a cat. At any rate, I hang out with cats, a lot, and communicate rather well with them, despite my human impedimenta, and in fact occasionally receive from them information of real benefit. But this story is about cats only tangentially. Its main topic is slobs and rats.
I share a house with two other people. And my two house mates, both male, both bachelors of course, they are, well, slobs: dishes in the sink for days on end, grit on the floors, garbage piled up on the back porch -- in short, the usual condition of the slob species. I, on the other hand, am fastidious, like all creatures of a feline disposition, and I like a house which is clean and neat.
Upon moving into the house, i tried to help the wretches, and they of course rebelled. In fact, my efforts moved them to become, of course, even more pathetic.
I became quite stressed by the situation, and finally announced, "Listen! I am going to be responsible for the kitchen. I am going to keep it in a reasonably neat and clean condition. And what YOU people do is your own dismal business, but I warn you that if you do anything which threatens a needless expense to Ruth Jamison, the owner of this house and my very dear friend, I will immediately inform her and let her deal with you. And I would recommend very highly that, to focus on just one of yr many ghastly behaviors, you do not allow grit to accumulate on her wooden floors, because grit on the sole of a shoe is sandpaper, but Ruth likes these floors the way they are, as do i, i.e., shiny, and we don't need you to pursue your peculiar aesthetic in the matter, which apparently favors surfaces, and souls I might add, of a murky finish. So keep the grit off the floor, in whatever way you like, tho' I highly recommend that you use not only a broom, but also a damp mop on it. But beyond leaguing with Ruth to prevent the wrecking of this place, I am going to ignore yr slovenly persons and deal simply with the kitchen."
For a month or so, I went along in this mode quite serenely, with my cat friends occasionally expressing utter amazement at my tolerance for strange people. But then, after about a month, I was out on the back porch one morning and discovered that my house mates had attended to a dozen or so rain-sogged boxes, which they had allowed to accumulate on one end of the porch. They had accomplished this bit of housekeeping by dumping the boxes over the porch rail and mashing them into a pile against the house.
I fell into a rage. I don't know why. Well, I do know but I won't go into it, in case the reader is from the Deep South and a very poor family. But I was upset, fit literally to be tied, and floundered helplessly for days in this quasi cesspool, until one of my feline friends communicated an account of the following conversation, and antics, among some rats, which I promptly relayed to my house mates.
"But, Mom, I don't like living here. It's cold at night and those raccoons scare me, and the food's lousy, and when it rains this place gets all wet and ... Mom, I'm just miserable..."
"Now, dear, we've been through this a hundred times. We're looking for a better place, but these things take time. Just be patient, Thoroughgood, everything's going ..."
She stops as suddenly a very big rat appears at the entrance to the burrow, replete with blue and red checkered overalls and an enormous pot belly.
"Folks!" he begins roaring, "Guess what, we've got a new home, and I mean a REAL home! Haha, haha, haha!"
Still roaring, the big rat begins maniacally prancing about the floor, his enormous torso balancing quite precisely on very, very tiny, thin legs.
Mom rat looks with skeptical anxiety at the big rat and his antics, and then asks, "Now, dear, really, what's the matter? did you forget to take...?"
"Oh, Mimi, wd you loosen up just once? Didn't I tell you, God will provide, huh?"
"Herman, you don't really mean ..."
"Yep, that's what I really mean, that's exactly what I meeeaaannn," he draws the last 'mean' out as he decorates it with a playful leer at his wife.
"Well where? There have been so many people looking and .."
"You'll never guess."
Mom Rat smiles, a bit coquettishly, thinking perhaps of certain unmentionable possibilities for the right sort of digs. "Well I have no idea. All the places ..."
"The Jamison place!!! Haha!" bellows Big Rat prancing now in near frenzy.
"The Jamison pace!?!?!! Dear, are you drunk? Nasty Ruth almost killed poor George that time. We told him it was dangerous there, but no, he had to ..."
"The Jamison place!" Big Rat bellows again. "Haha haha hehe hehe!"
"Not me!" Little Rat screams. "No way! And get killed like Uncle George almost got killed. He's still not right. He'll never be able ..."
Big Rat, with a mock-cunning smile: "There's been a chaaaaange ..."
"A change, dear?"
"A change?" Little Rat chimes in.
Big Rat, taking a break from his capering, addresses them almost seriously, "Yep. Nasty Ruth is gone! Moved to Idaho, fell in love with some guy out there and moved away." And then, resuming his manic bellow, "Gone! Away! HA, HA, HA HA!! No more Nasty Ruth! HA!"
"Dear me! What wonderful news!" Mom Rat looks vaguely enthusiastic, although still, of course, anxiety ridden.
"Oh, but wait a minute, Herman. Who's living there now? The house isn't empty is it?"
"Nope, but I've done my homework. Two and a half flakes. A guy named Gerald and another one named Mortimer, total flakes! My kind of people! They could care less if every rat in Humboldt County was living in their bedrooms."
"Now, dear, let's not get ahead of ourselves. And what about the other one? The half flake?"
"Well, actually he's a Nasty. Name's "Tom." "Nasty Tom" the flakes call him, and some humans too. But, never fear, he's resigned himself to the regnant flakeage and has decided to keep the kitchen decent and let the rest of it ..." he falls silent, and then, "ya' know something, he keeps talking about 'grits.' He says all he wants from them is 'grits,' and he'll be happy. Hmm, sounds like a sensible fella to me."
"To me too, dear, but I smell more than grits, I smell humans."
"Oh, Mimi, can't you chill for just once? It's gonna be OOKKAAYY!!"
Big Rat resumes his capering.
"Well, can we get down to some specifics? I take it we're not going to have the bedrooms right away."
Big Rat, still capering, and now deliriously, no doubt at the thought of the flakeage and their ways: "Of course not. But there's a pile of boxes by the chimney stack that's just lovely. And there's no way that pile's going away, because the flakeage is supposed to be taking care of it. We'll have things chewed up and comfy in no time. And then we can deal with 'THE FOOD ISSUES'!!! I'm tired of these damn seeds."
"You mean we get to have SOME REAL FOOD?' from Little Rat who begins capering with Big Rat, as Mom Rat looks on with an almost beaming, 'tho' of course anxious, smile.