Welcome to the wilds! New Jersey for me was like crossing the border into Tijuana. Sure, the new lifestyle was crazy, but no one would ever admit to living there. When my husband’s job was relocated here in August 2010, we both were frightened. Now we’re learning about life, love, and marriage in this strange new culture. Feel free to tag along for the adventure.
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Where I lived in DC was on Connecticut. Where I worked and attended graduate school was a straight two miles down Nebraska. I could drive or take public transportation, but generally I walked. It cleared my head and prepared me for the rest of the day. On one particular morning around 5:30 AM, I began the hike, because I intended to stop at the gym before work. With hazy contacts, I started towards Nebraska. I came to a light and turned right to cross the street. Down the quiet road ahead of me I saw movement. I squinted to paint a clearer picture of the animals in my path.
“Are they cats?” I thought.
“No,” I reasoned. While their bodies were big enough, their tails were too skinny. I reviewed my knowledge of wildlife from my rural upbringing and concluded they had to be opossums. It was not an unlikely probability. I had seen a fox on Connecticut once and a raccoon down the street on someone’s porch. An opossum seemed like the logical conclusion.
Curiosity overcame fear. I inched closer and closer; until the animals became clearer and clearer. And much to my frightened, repulsed disappointment, they were not opossums, but gigantic sewer rats. I kid you not; they were the size of cats. I have recounted my story to many, but only those who have lived in DC believe me. DC natives have surprisingly similar stories. Everyone else says, “They can’t get that big.”
Now, back to the television special…
The show drew my attention in disgusted horror, because it detailed studies on rats and how they could climb from the sewers into your house through the toilets. The narrator said, “Their natural born inclination leads them to search in the pipes…” Then, nature has endowed them with strong swimming legs, a rudder of a tail, and strong lungs. A rat can hold its breath for three minutes, swim for three days, and shrinks its body to the size of its head. Compound all that knowledge with the fact that halfway through the toilet’s tubing, there is a pocket of air where a rat can pause to catch his breath before making his final journey into your home.
I found a segment of the special in a different language just in case you want to watch the rat swim through PVC piping. I warn you, after watching it, you’ll never look at your toilet the same way again.
The story should have ended with the conclusion of the show. Like any horror flick, the monster should have been locked behind the glass and in my imagination. However, that was not the case…
When we returned home, my husband and I popped in our Netflix movie, Shutter Island (I do not recommend it) and opened a bottle of wine to relax after the long drive. Sometime near the middle, when Dicaprio’s character is inside the mental institution, a loud sound thuds above us. We both jump, startled. Then, we freeze trying to decipher whether the sound was from the movie or inside our house.
When the thumping continued and combined with claws scratching across the linoleum floor in our kitchen, we both had the same thought: cat caught in a bag again. When our cats were kittens, they loved plastic bags until…they got their heads caught in the handle. They tore through the house with the scary bag ghost flapping behind them so quickly, it took a combined effort to capture and free them again.
Now, though, it sounded like one of the cats was hanging himself. I sprinted up the stairs forgoing the light to save my endangered kitty. Only, when I reached the kitchen, he was sitting calmly on the floor. His tail waved back and forth. My husband flicked on the light behind me and our fat cat threw a gray and white mouse in the air and caught it again. It dropped to the floor, scurrying toward the oven. Dante halted the escape with one heavy paw on top of the critter. Then, he stared back at me.
I was petrified. My husband was petrified. Wide-eyed we gawked in disbelief. There was nothing else to do. Dante misinterpreted our reaction, thinking he had done something wrong, and lifted his paw. His prey fled underneath the oven and Beast dove after him.
“Well,” my husband suggested coming over to rub my shoulders and kiss my cheek. "Looks like it's time to open that next bottle of wine!”