Friday morning, with our daughter at school and yellow lab still at the animal hospital, my wife and I started noticing little 3/4-inch, rolled-up mud-like pieces around the house and on the furniture. Now though my wife is much smarter than I am (I only use 2% of my brain on my best days), I was the first to identify what we were seeing.
But it took a process of elimination and overcoming denial to get there.
Theory #1: Cali, our crazy black lab, dragged them in. She likes to eat poop. She must have spit them out, or kept them up in her cheeks or something.
My response to my wife: I don’t think so.
Action: We rolled Cali over on her back, checked her paws and fur, and looked in her mouth. Nothing there but a confused dog wondering why were inspecting every inch of her.
Theory #2: They fell off of my wife’s running shoes. It has been raining here for days. She must have stepped in mud and it somehow found its way onto the floor and furniture during the night.
My response to my wife: I don’t think so.
Action: My wife inspected her shoes. No mud. Tread pattern different.
At this point, I knew what they were. Thousands of years of hunter/gatherer evolution led me to the answer. But now, unlike my cavemen brothers who only had fire, I had a greater tool – the Internet.
So, while my wife tested theories 3 – 50 – asteroid dust – check for a hole in the roof – to Google Images I went. And sure enough I had a perfect match on my first try. Now I just had to tell my wife. Being the communications expert that I am, I let her know in the kindest, gentlest way possible.
“Rat poop.” [See how I softened “shit” to “poop.” Genius, I say.”]
“What?” she said.
“Rat poop. They’re rat poop. And those little wet spots: rat pee.”
“You’re kidding me?”
I wish I were kidding her, like I dreamed up the grossest prank I could to get in her good graces and mom jeans, which she doesn’t actually wear, but they sound funny. But I wasn’t joking. Sometime during the night, while our fierce black lab was sleeping on the floor of our small house, rats entered through the dog door and had a party.
[Please check out Craigslist, Los Angeles today and take home a free 1 year-old black lab with zero rat-hunting skills.]
The exterminator was there by noon, and he set traps inside our house, and promised to return next week with a Rat Death-House: rats go in, but they don’t come out. Two cat paws up for that.
My favorite exterminator quote: “They usually don’t enter houses with dogs.”
[Craigslist, Los Angeles posting: Free black lab to rat-free home.]
My wife and daughter hung out all day in the bedroom/office. And my daughter wore her boots at all times, lest some human-hunting rat with a taste for a 10-year-old took a run at her.
Then I had another brilliant idea last night, hunter that I am. I slept in the leather chair in the middle of the war zone, Ping 7-iron at my side and black lab on dog bed at my feet.
If you’re a husband, then I’m pretty sure you’ll appreciate this next statement: No one can put a pin in your ego and deflate it quite like a wife can. Especially when we try to do heroic things, like sleep in the middle of rat-infested battleground to protect females sleeping like little princesses in the bedroom next door.
Me: “So, I made it through the night. No rats. All clear.”
Wife: “But you left all the lights on.”
Me: “Yeah. So. What difference does that make? They come out with the lights on. When it’s silent, quiet. They have to go to the bathroom at some point.”
Wife: “They can go where they are. They’re rats.”
Me: “They’d come out to go.”
Wife: “How would you have noticed them?”
Me: “Cali barks, I wake up.”
Wife: “Oh, like you woke up when I came out to feed her this morning and she ran all over the place, whining and barking? I turned off the alarm too, which is pretty loud. But there you were sleeping like a baby, with one slipper hanging off your foot” [acts out what I looked like sleeping on the chair].
Me: “You came out to feed her this morning? Really?”
Hmm, yes, I am a heavy sleeper. And, yes, I didn’t notice any of these events, which made me think how lucky I was that I didn’t wake up thinking my dog was snuggling with me during the night only to discover she was back in the bedroom with my wife and daughter.
Ah, heroic plans dashed, crushed, smashed by the love of my life.
The woolly mammoth I brought back to the cave was undersized and couldn’t feed the clan. And I got a beating for it.
It’s not the thought that counts when you’re a hunter. It’s showing off a blood-covered Ping golf club and a dozen rat carcasses to your wife when she wakes up that matters. It’s scrambled prehistoric vulture eggs with chunks of fresh rat meat that matters. Yep, it’s feeding the clan.
However, later today, when I said to my wife, “I suck at rat-hunting,” she replied, “Were there any rat-poops this morning?”
“Then you did your job.”
Ego restored. Just like that. Magic.
Yes, yes, I did my job. I could be a caveman after all.