(Note: Some rodents were harmed considerably during the making of this lifelong story. However, I harmed them under extreme pressure from my wife. PETA members and all others please address your complaints to: David Allen, Get Over It Avenue, Realtown, USA.)
Throughout our lives, we all have been exposed to many examples of meaningful relationships between people and animals, relationships that taught us all little life lessons – Balaam’s donkey in the Bible, St. Francis of Assissi and his birds, Doctor Dolittle and Jip, Mr. Ed and Wilbur, and Honey Boo Boo and her pet pig, Glitzy. In my particular case, I seem to have developed a rather odd relationship through the years with…….rodents. Yep, that’s right, rodents – mice, rats, squirrels, chipmunks, capybaras, democratic strategists, and the like.
I never had much an interaction with rodents until I got married, save for the time that I had two pet hamsters when I was about 8 years old. “Tailless rats” is what my mother called them, but no mere rat ever had its own exercise wheel and intricate play tunnel system. Curiously, my two hamsters fought like cats and dogs (excuse the pun) all the time. You would think that living in funland would make them happier and more docile, but I guess kids at McDonald’s Playland act much the same way. Anyway, the hamster period of my childhood didn’t last long, much to the relief of my mother.
LIFE LESSON: FEMALES DO NOT LIKE RODENTS.
Largely because I had the mind of an eight-year-old, I didn’t learn that lesson real well, but I did learn a lot more about it when I got married. In fact, unless your last name is Kardashian, you learn a lot more about a whole lot of topics when you get married. Life lessons get more complicated in marriage:
LIFE LESSON: WIVES DO NOT LIKE RODENTS.
LIFE LESSON: HUSBANDS ENJOY SLEEPING AT NIGHT.
LIFE LESSON: NOT LIKING RODENTS MEANS KILLING RODENTS.
LIFE LESSON: IF HUSBANDS ENJOY SLEEPING AT NIGHT, THEY WILL KILL RODENTS FOR THEIR WIVES.
But, Dave, you ask, why do women not like rodents? After all, rabbits are rodents, but they seem to like them, and puppies and kittens are small and furry, have tails, and are considered cute. So, what gives? That is a great question with a not-so-great answer. The truth is we don’t know – even women don’t seem to know. Oh sure, they will give you vague references to “a scaly tail” or “little beady eyes”, but I don’t think they really know either, as is evidenced by the following chart:
Animal Type Description Size Female Response
Mouse (Rodent) Fur, Tail Eenie-Meanie Kill it
Kitten (Cat) Fur, tail Small Awwwww….
Rat (Rodent) Fur, tail Small Kill it
Puppy (Dog) Fur, tail Small So sweet…..
Rabbit (Rodent) Fur, tail Small to medium Awwwww……
Chinchilla (Rodent) Fur, tail Small to medium Kill it and wrap many of them around me
Wolf (Dog) Fur, tail Large So evil…….
Tiger (Cat) Fur, tail Large Mr. Tiger, please kill my husband first
Confusing, isn’t it? The best rule of thumb is that live rodents and live females do not belong in the same house. I remember quite clearly my first live wife-live rodent encounter. We had been married about two years and lived in some cheap, little rental house, the kind where you find clever little sayings cross stitched above the fireplace: “This house is small, with room enough for love, that’s all”. Anyway, the missus and I were sitting in the living room one evening, watching TV, when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw something run across the kitchen floor. Now, we had no children or pets at the time, so, unless the potato salad in the refrigerator had gone really, really bad, it had to be a rodent. But my wife did not see it and the TV show was interesting, so I ignored the rodent. Maybe it would go back outside or something. Suddenly, my wife bolts from the couch and heads to the kitchen for a snack. She ignores my pleas to come back, and, of course, the rodent is still on the kitchen floor. There is shrieking and scurrying and, well, it just wasn’t a pretty sight.
“I suppose you want me to catch and kill the rat?”
“Do you enjoy sleeping?”
So, after several days, I finally cornered and killed the rat, armed only with oven cleaner spray and a golf club. (I challenge Tiger Woods to hit one better.)
LIFE LESSON: GET A NEW HOUSE; NEW HOUSES DON’T HAVE RODENTS. ALSO, GET SOME CATS; CATS ARE MORE EFFECTIVE AGAINST RODENTS THAN OVEN CLEANER AND GOLF CLUBS.
Flash forward to the spring of 2013. On a typical weekday morning, I rise from bed and turn the shower water on. As I brush back the shower curtain, I hear a plop on the shower stall floor, which, after I rub my eyes several times reveals itself to be a flying squirrel fully alive and irritated in my shower stall. (The Big Book of Flying Squirrels does not show the flying squirrel’s range being this far south.) After frantically catching the squirrel and entertaining my family in the process, I let it go at the local soccer fields. It didn’t look too happy as it scampered into the woods, although I fully expect to see it playing goalie for one of the rec teams one day.
LIFE LESSON: YOUR GUESS IS AS GOOD AS MINE.
Summer 2013. “The summer of terror”, according to my wife. The two cats we acquired began to bring live mice inside our house and proceeded to play tag with them on the dining room floor. (The Big Book of Housecats does not even mention this sort of behavior.) Of course, some of the mice got away and made a bee line for my wife in the living room.
“I suppose you want me to take care of this, huh?”
“Do you enjoy sleeping?”
LIFE LESSON: CATS ARE USELESS. GET A DOG TO BLOCK THE CATS FROM BRINGING THE MICE INTO THE HOUSE. ALSO, WHEN YOUR WIFE SAID THAT SHE WANTED TO ENTERTAIN MORE IN THE DINING ROOM, THIS IS NOT WHAT SHE HAD IN MIND.
October 2013. After a long day at work, a pending sinus infection, and taking care of kids, cats, and the dog, I leave my wife in the living room and go to bed early. As I walk into the bedroom, I see a mouse scurry under our bed. I am tired and don’t feel good, so I briefly ponder not telling my wife and hope that the mouse will somehow find its way outside again. But then I remember the rental house life lesson, and I trudge back to the living room to tell my wife about the mouse. She is suprisingly sympathetic (that honesty thing does work!), but I know we are not sleeping until the mouse is gone. So, our cat Lily and I try to get the mouse out of the bedroom. The mouse makes a quick move and scurries out of the bedroom and into the kitchen, beside the refrigerator. At this point, I am looking at a 4 am bedtime if I keep chasing the mouse through every room in the house. I ask my wife to hold a flashlight beam on the mouse (which is hard to do when you are standing on a chair in the middle of the kitchen, shaking), and I go to retrieve my pellet gun. While I am hardly Seal Team Six, I did successfully dispatch the target. Later, my wife actually supplied what she thought was the life lesson for this experience: GOD KNEW YOU WERE GRUMPY AND HE WANTED TO PUT A LITTLE HUMOR IN YOUR LIFE. That’s right, folks, God is a omniscient good humor machine, who dispenses various types of rodents or other stimuli periodically into your life to get you to lighten up. Who da thunk it?
Of course, this is an interesting theory from someone who spent the entire mouse hunt in a chair, shrieking “Kill it, kill it!!”. Oh well, happy wife equals sleeping husband.