Last night there was a rat in the kitchen. He didn’t have the long slithering black Manhattan-trash-pile-on-the-hot-summer-night tail that makes me want to scream and pass out; he was more like a giant-sized field mouse. A Beatrix Potter creation with soft brown fur who would have been perfectly at home sitting on a pin cushion reading the newspaper. But still, he was a rat, a five-inch long disease-carrying rat… apparently built on springs.
The rat launches himself from the table, bounces off the back of a chair then flies to the window five feet away, scrambles up the blinds and disappears. By now my screeching has gotten Phil’s attention: “We have rats !” I shout, as he hurries downstairs. “Rats – BIG rats,” I point at the window blind.
Phil grabs a paper bag, I grab a cow whip that the maid laughed at me for buying. I whap at the blind while Phil stands ready to catch the varmint in the bag. I whap again: nothing. I open the blind then let it roll open.
Phil sees a shadow dash into the kitchen on the other side of the room and shouts, “Fucking hell, that’s a huge rat !” We run into the kitchen just in time to see him slip behind the fridge. Phil muscles the fridge away from the wall. The rat darts across the floor to the water cooler. We scream like seven-year old girls.
I smack the water cooler. The rat flies over the microwave to the towel rod below the cupboards. He scampers the length of the cupboards. When he gets to the stove he leaps three feet to the window, and scurries to the top of the blind. Cow whip – check. Bag – check. He peeks at us over the top of the blind, and we’re pretty sure he’s laughing, great peals of silent rat laughter, because this is hilarious. The two of us are doubled over, howling.
After seeing this rat in action, both of us know we haven’t got a chance in hell of catching him. It is impossible not to be impressed. He may be the most efficient being we’ve seen in this country to date, the first creature who appears to know exactly what he’s doing (in this case, evading his captors), and is going about it in the most ergonomically streamlined way possible (see “parkour” in the Wikipedia; or watch the opening sequence of Daniel Craig’s James Bond movie, “Casino Royale“).
I tap the blind and he launches himself from the top of the window into the sink full of dirty dishes. He bounces from a soup bowl into a saucepan, then tumbles over a tea cup. Our kitchen has become an Indian Tom & Jerry cartoon, a live rat theater production of Ratatouille. He escapes and we can’t stop laughing.
Phil and I look around the kitchen. “Of course we have rats,” he says. “Look at this place.”
Dishes in the sink, trash on the floor, food on the counter. The maid doesn’t really get the whole “clean” thing. She is great at mopping the floors, but seems to be baffled by things like glass counter-tops and emptying trashcans. She’s nearly as bad as I used to be at doing the dishes directly after dinner. Phil and I have trained ourselves not to complain about each other, so we forget to complain about her.
The maid and I need to have a talk.