Saturday, April 02, 2005

naming conventions

My desk is under the window which faces into the back yard, which is about the size of a dinner napkin and quite overgrown around the edges of the deck. A week ago, I was sitting here rearranging the music in my library or playing solitaire or learning Ukrainian color words or something like that, and I saw a big white rat running along the concrete half-wall that supports the fence. Before I even had time to formulate the thought "big white rat", it paused at the passionflower vine, and then jumped to the ground and went under the deck.

It didn't bother me--I'm from Detroit, I've seen much bigger rats--but I did think it was rather pretty. Wait, I was in the middle of writing an email. That's right. So I mentioned in the email that there was this big rat, and should I try to catch it? Maybe it was somebody's pet? I had this whole plan that I would put out the last of the grated Mexican-style cheese and a shoebox, but then I realized that I wouldn't know what to do with the rat once I had it. Put up xeroxed signs? Found: One Large Rat? With a picture? Anyway, I told myself, it's probably long gone by now. And I promptly forgot, as tends to happen with most things that aren't right in front of me.

Well, this afternoon before I left for the theater, I saw it again! Or one just like it. Same sequence: it ran along the wall, and then jumped down and went under the deck.

So I put out some Cheerios for it. Everyone likes Cheerios, right?

It's too dark to go out and see if they're still there. But maybe the rat will come live with me. In the best pet-naming tradition of my family, I could name it something really clever and exotic like "Ratty". Seriously. We had a dog named "Puppy", and two cats who went by "Brown Cat" and "Grey Cat" because we couldn't remember the real names we'd given them; my stuffed animals had names like "Bear" and "Bunny". All the times I've tried for more interesting names, I've failed--but then, I guess that's to be expected when one names one's pets after linguistics luminaries.

I shouldn't even admit to all this.

If anyone has a better name for my rat, I'd love to hear it. Maybe I can have a Rat-Naming Contest.

Winner gets a handful of Cheerios.