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June 22 – Rats

“Forgive me Father, it has been more than a week since my last blog….”

Now I have that confession off my chest, let me share another one – I am fighting with my wife. It’s not about money, or the kids, or the fact I don’t hang my towel up, it’s about rats. Yes rats, those creatures with long tails and bad reputations.

We have at least one rat living under our back deck. Although, where there’s one rat, there’s probably more. The rat that we see is a big rat. In fact, he or she is an enormous rat. If rats were box stores, our rat would be Costco. We don’t see him often, but he seems to make an appearance at the most inopportune of times (whenever my daughter is sunning herself in the backyard). He is very bold for a rat. I think of rats as living in dark, dirty, creepy places, like subway tunnels, sewers, or Trump Towers. But our rat seems to be happy to sit on our table in the backyard or frolic in our flower pot beside the back door.  He is, I believe, a very carefree rat.

Here’s the problem. No one in my house likes him. Everyone speaks so badly of him. But I like him. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t like him like I like my friends, or ice cream, or Mike Babcock, but I don’t bear him any ill will. I try to put myself in his shoes. It’s hard being a rat. Just the word “rat” is very demoralizing. He may well be the Martin Luther King Jr. of rats, but because of his “rat” status he will always be considered of a lower caste. On the other hand, you could be the Bill Cosby of butterflies, and everyone will still like you more than a Nobel Prize winning rat.

So, what am I to do? Lori wants me to get rid of the rat and any of his family who may dwell in the far underground recesses of the deck. Her reasoning, “rats carry disease”. I’m pretty sure squirrels carry disease too, but no one is suggesting squirrel-genocide. What about birds? chipmunks? The guy who bags your food at the grocery store? If carrying disease is the threshold for annihilation, then I’m pretty sure we’re all doomed.

I’d like to think that we can live in harmony with rats. Perhaps we can learn something from them. One zoologist said that rats have an uncanny ability to learn from their mistakes, allowing them to adapt to harsh conditions. I think that’s an admirable quality  Plus, according to the Chinese zodiac, the Rat is a symbol of wisdom. If you were born in the Year of the Rat (1948, 1960, 1972, 1984, 1996, 2008), you are considered intelligent, charming, quick-witted, ambitious and practical.  Who wouldn’t want to carry the sign of the rat if it means you are a cut above the average human?

In the meantime, I will do what I always do when there is conflict in the home. Nothing. It is a remarkably effective way of getting through things until such time as something else comes along that is of greater importance.  Maybe a bear will move in, making my rat problem obsolete.

Until then, may my friend the rat enjoy a peaceful and productive life in my backyard. Namaste.