Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Another Rat Tail (Tale)

"He who is not everyday conquering some fear has not learned the secret of life.--Ralph Waldo Emerson

My fear of rats stems from being attacked by the rat's close cousin, the squirrel, back in the 1980s.

Our neighbors in Cambridge, with whom we shared a patio, propped a box springs on the divider between our two patios.  At least one family of squirrels had taken up residence.  I wasn't aware of this fun fact til the day I was locked out of my apartment and asked if I could pass through to my place via our shared porch.  As I was passing by, mama squirrel thought I was a threat to her babies and chased me all the way to the edge of my side of the patio, until I was hanging over the ledge.  

I believe "little mama" sensed I was not the squirrel-loving type. Some of my friends invited the neighborhood squirrels into their dining rooms on regular basis to clean the food the kids dropped on the floor, since we couldn't have pets to do same.  I was not in the habit of inviting rodents into the dining room for a feast, so perhaps I was on the squirrel black list anyway.  

Squirrels were ubiquitous in Cambridge. (Some day I will confess how ubiquitous is the only word I learned at the annual conference of Gartner Group, a major technology consulting firm, in case you don't know.  More on that later. At least I know one big word.)  The photo below is my son Phil, probably around the year of my infamous mama squirrel attack.  You can see a squirrel on the upper left of the tree.  

So back to the drama on the patio.  I had two choices: 1) I could try to quickly open the patio door to my apartment and hope "little mama" didn't follow me inside; or 2) I could jump off the patio, which was on the second floor.  I chose neither. Instead I screamed at the top of my lungs as "little mama" hissed, bobbed, and weaved, coming ever closer to me.  How dare I invade her multistory patio home?!!!  I don't know if squirrel screaming is sport, but if yes, I was an Olympian that day. And then some. Eventually, she found her way back to her box springs residence, where no doubt the family was awaiting their next meal and wondering who had interrupted their naps with screeching and howling.

A lot of people think squirrels are cute, but not me.  The mere sight of one makes my hair stand on end.  Since that day, I've had a fear of rodents, especially squirrels and rats.  And if I know the squirrel's cousin, rat, is on my property, my nights are sleepless.
Fast forward to 2010.  The landscapers saw rats in my side yard last Saturday.  My exterminator has maintained pest control "stations" since my St. Francis of Assisi garden statue accidentally fed all the rats in my yard and in fact the entire neighborhood back in 2007.  Fortunately, the pest control man stopped by today to provide me a little more protection.  

Maybe tonight I can get some sleep.  Zzzzzzz ...

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