#63 When You Grow Up Poor…

… you fall in love with a rat named Pam. (WARNING: This starts out as a funny post and then gets reeaaal serious. Sorry not sorry)

Pam Pam

You don’t understand people’s obsession with pets. They cost money and they’re nasty.

You’ve only every loved one animal in your life and it was a rat named Pam. You rescued her from being fed to a pet snake when she was so new that she still had translucent skin and no hair. You know that rats are smarter than mice. They’re really smart actually. And you sympathize with the little guy. Poor, hairless, and smart, with a world of possibilities if that world would just give you a break.

You rescue the rat, curse at the trench coat wearing psychopath who was laughing as he began lowering this innocent, defenseless newborn rat into his king snake’s cage, and take the rat home to your house.

Your mother is either mortified or pissed. House rule: no animals in the house. Its that simple. But you are now the caretaker of a brand new baby rat. You cannot abandoned her.

You go to the pet store and buy a magazine called RATS. Its about rats. All about rats. You flip through and find an article on something called “nesting”. You learn that its the process of coaxing a newborn animal into thinking that you are its mother. For some reason, you feel that this is a great idea for you. You buy a leather pouch for marbles and hang it on a string. You put the baby tiny little rat in the pouch. Then you wear the pouch around your neck under your shirt for the next two weeks. You feed the rat. You hold the rat whenever you are sitting down. You sleep with the rat in a bowl of straw next to your pillow.

Two weeks later the rat, who is now named Pam, has hair, all white except for some caramel patches here and there, and is growing like crazy. And the nesting has worked. We’ve imprinted on each other like that one wolf guy in those Vampire Werewolf books.

You put her in a shoe box up on your dresser on the other side of your room and go to bed. You wake up in the middle of the night because Pam has gotten out of the shoe box, climbed down the dresser, crawled across the bedroom floor, scaled your bed, and has curled up in the nook between your neck and your jaw on your pillow to sleep.

You cry.

You are in love with a rat now.

Pam now follows you everywhere. You try and keep her out of the bathroom while you shower by stuffing towels under the door. She gets in anyways, climbs the shower curtain, and jumps in the shower with you.

So you buy rat shampoo.

You now shower with a rat.

You can’t stand the thought of leaving her home all day (and neither can your mom) so you bring her to work in her pouch until she gets too big for the pouch. By that time you have moved into an apartment with friends and they also love Pam but don’t want rat poop in the apartment. So you potty train Pam.

You now are in love with a potty trained rat.

Now she can run free through the apartment. You fear you may never see her again. You come home from work every night, grab food, sit on the couch and watch TV. You wonder if Pam has run away. If she finally realized that you are not a mother rat. But every night, without fail, while you watch It’s Always Sunny or Arrested Development, Pam finds her way onto the couch, climbs your shirt, and sits on your shoulder and watches TV with you while you feed her bits of whatever you are eating.

You now watch TV and eat dinner with a well bathed, potty trained rat who you are in love with.

Pam never leaves. Pam is your friend. Pam loves you. You love Pam.

A couple years later (I’m tearing up as I write this), Pam wakes up one morning and she’s not herself. She’s slow to move, she can’t walk in a straight line. She doesn’t eat dinner that night. She takes no interest in TV.

The next day one of her eyes is red and bulging out a bit. Something is wrong.

You take Pam to the vet.

Pam has brain cancer. The doc says her parents and grandparents were probably lab rats and its just what happens to rats these days.

There’s nothing that anyone can do for Pam.

That night you talk to Pam in your bed before you fall asleep and let her know that you will be ending her life tomorrow because you love her. You cry. She doesn’t move and her breath is labored.

You are now talking to a one-in-a-million, never to happen again, very special, beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime rat you love.

The next day you end Pam’s life. You don’t go to work. Its a hard day.

You get over it. Eventually.

Then on her ten year death anniversary Facebook reminds you of her and its a hard day again and you try not to let people see you cry on the train while you write a tribute post to her on your blog.

You still love that damn rat.

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