Thursday, September 23, 2010

Screaming echoes of a girly-girl

When I was quite young, I was very much a girly-girl. For years, I refused to wear anything but dresses and skirts – except for a very cute red top and blue jeans combo number that I recall from first grade – and I always wanted my hair to be JUST SO. Pink and red were my favorite colors, I very much wanted a mahogany four-poster bed with frills as well as a big, white furry cat to lie upon it, and I hated it when my family called my Andie instead of Andrea.

I, now the independent, blue-jeans wearing, sports-minded woman, grew out of it.

Though apparently I didn’t get over it.

Scurrying creatures turn me into a stereotype, an anachronism. The evidence?  High-pitched screams of an unexpected scale. Spasmodic running-in-place. Flailing of arms. Leaping and bounding of an unprecedented degree for someone of limited athletic prowess. More shrieking.

It’s not pretty.

Fortunately for my pride, there seldom are witnesses when these episodes of involuntary theatrics occur. My parents, of course, have enjoyed front-row seats over the years (two fairly recent examples: when the salamander got in their house during a remodel and the day I was ambushed by the big gray/green lizard near the beautiful roses I was admiring).

Solo, I have crossed paths with more spiders than I can count, a tiny mouse in the bathtub, a bat between the screen door and the sliding glass door to my balcony … and, as of very early Thursday morning, a rat in my kitchen.

A rat in my kitchen at 4:30 in the morning.

I heard this noise, this rustling noise (ugh) that awoke me on the couch, where I had fallen asleep instead of getting up and going to bed. Sitting up, I heard it (ugh) again.

Insert feeling of dread here.

I slowly stood up and walked toward the kitchen (rustle, rustle – ugh). I poked my head around the corner and saw nothing despite the glow from the secondary light in the room. I walked in, flipped on another light, turned around – and UGH.

Insert image of 1950s-era, Leave-it-to-Beaver mother standing atop her kitchen table screaming here.

I didn’t ACTUALLY see ALL of the rat (ugh). I live in a very old building, with lots of nooks and crannies, and I saw only its thick, brown (ugh) tail as it scurried (ugh) back through the tiny opening between the dishwasher and the cabinets under the sink. Back into, I presume, hope and pray, the wall separating me from my neighbor.

That tail (ugh) was enough, however. Plenty to send me into conniptions – and, when some sanity returned, running for the tallest pair of boots I own.

I went to sleep sometime after 7 this morning, after throwing away anything that was anywhere near the kitchen floor and couldn’t be bleached. And fashioning a makeshift blockade of trash bags and dishtowels, doused with bleach, that remains entrenched in the tiny opening between the dishwasher and the cabinets under the sink. And creating a bleach moat 10 inches wide between where the kitchen floor ends and the carpeted area begins.

A rat in my kitchen at 4:30 in the morning.

Shrieking sure seems loud at 4:30 in the morning.

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