Other than Michael Jackson, most people I know hate rats, and understandably so. You can add my sister to the list of rat-haters thanks to a traumatic childhood experience. My two sisters and I were playing in our grandmother’s yard when we came across a big old country rat. The interesting thing was that something was clearly wrong with this rat. It was stretched out on the ground and breathing extremely fast, as if it had just run a marathon. For some unknown reason, seeing the rat in that condition really intrigued us. We all gathered around the rat, initially expecting it to get up and run but it just continued to lie there, with its breathing getting more and more labored. In our amateur veterinarian opinions, the rat was inching closer and closer to death.
Since the rat either didn’t notice us, didn’t care about us, or couldn’t do anything about us, my youngest sister decided to play around with it a little. She found a long stick in the yard and took it over to the rat. Of course, I was trying to figure out what she was about to do. Then she took the stick and poked the rat in its side. The right’s body moved a bit, but otherwise there was no reaction; just more heavy breathing. At that point, we were convinced that the rat was completely harmless and would meet its demise in that spot in the yard. We even thought about having a rat funeral. Then my sister decided to get a little bolder. She slowly inched closer to the rat and took her foot and nudged the rat gently. Again, the rat’s body moved a bit but otherwise there was no reaction; just more heavy rat breathing. Then she started leaning over the rat. A big wad of spit fell from my sister’s mouth directly between the rat’s eyes, splattering all over its face. Without warning, the rat sprung to life and made a bee-line straight toward my sister. Almost as quickly, my sister, panicked by the sudden turn of events, turned and started running away from the rat. The rat proceeded to chase her for about 100 feet before it veered off toward the woods. To this day, the sight of that rat chasing my sister remains one of the funniest things I have ever seen. But it raised the question of why it took the spit to piss off the rat and make it spring to life. Being a thinker, I tried to put myself inside the rat’s mind. All I could come up with was: “you can kick me, or even hit me with a stick, but if you spit on me, that’s your ass!” You’ve been warned. Govern yourself accordingly.