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After watching another tepid Saturday Night Live (the incomparable Jude Law hosted), I settled in for an hour of Adult Swim before bed. Mid-Futurama, I heard the clanking of dishes in the kitchen. Assuming that the leaky kitchen faucet had caused a redistribution of salad bowls and plates in the sink, I ignored the noise. Five minutes later, the noise returned and again, I ignored it. But after the next interval, the clatter became insistent, followed by a faint tinkling. My heart froze. Grimly certain that a greasy four hundred-pound serial rapist/murder/dog killer was squeezing through the kitchen window, I went to investigate.

No one was there–no dishwashing Murderers, no fridge-raiding Peeping Toms. Turning to leave, I saw a RAT on our pantry rack. Remarkably, my first fleeting thought was that he was rather pretty; dove-gray and clean looking, like a quality stuffed-toy version of a rat. My second thought was “AAAAUUUGHHH! A RAT!!!”  I screamed like a B-movie queen, long and loud. In response, he leapt to the floor and scampered into the laundry room.

Now, my personal experience with rats is limited to countless viewings of “Willard” and having a girlfriend that dated a guy with a pet rat he took everywhere. Nevertheless, I see rats as unclean, loathsome creatures that spread pestilence and filth (curiously at odds with my first impression of the creature). As I barricaded the laundry room, E arrived at the scene (seven minutes after my shriek) to see what had happened. Clearly, he was in no hurry since I only screamed once and he reasoned that I was either already dead or harmlessly startled).

For the next forty minutes we tried to scare the rat out of laundry room and into the garage. Our efforts were futile, he found a safe spot under the washer and we were too exhausted to lift it. So I re-barricaded the laundry room and taking a tip from Willard, I used a sock full of coins to block an irregular opening.

First thing in the morning, I called the local animal and wildlife expert (my Mom) for advice. She patiently listened and asked me a few brief questions. Apparently our guest was not a common “sewer rat,” but a harmless “pack rat,” likely displaced by the rain and bulldozing. A visit to a website she suggested confirmed her suspicion. She recommended a live capture trap for the rat and another screening of “Willard” for me.

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