Archive | April, 2012

The Rat vs The Cat (and the Human)

19 Apr

Animals are Assholes, Example Five: The Rat

Rats are assholes. This may not come as a surprise to you. I, however, always defended them, because I found them cute and thought their ability to do things like decimate 30-60% of Europe’s population with the plague was impressive. That was until I had one in my apartment.

Aren't I cute? I carry the Black Death. Hehe.

Normally when I get home, Ophelia will do one of two things: Greet me at the door like a dog, all excited and friendly-like, or completely ignore my arrival while sleeping on my pillow like a passed out party girl like the cat she is.

Why did you wake me up, human?

However, as I arrived home a few years ago to the Lower East Side studio I lived in, I found Ophelia, as stiff and angry-looking as a gargoyle, frozen and staring at my radiator. Her fur was spiked, her tail puffed to three times its normal size. I was on the phone with my mother and I told her to wait a second, there was something wrong with the cat. “Phe? PheBaby, what’s wrong?” Without moving a muscle, she emitted the lowest most evil sounding growl.  “Mom,” I said into my cell, “I think Ophelia has finally lost her mind completely, she’s growling at the radiator. HOLY SHIT!” At this point I had finally followed Ophelia’s stare to the top of the radiator, where I now saw sat the largest rat I have ever seen. This thing was Phe-sized. “There’s a RAT in my apartment! MOM!”

Ophelia and Rat were NOT down with this peace and love bullshit.

“Get a broom and shoo it out!” she told me. A broom? Did I have one of those?

“Hold on, I have to put the cat in the bathroom so she doesn’t get out or get bitten. I’ll call you back.” I ran over to Ophelia, grabbed her, and dragged her hissing and spitting and screeching like a hell demon all the way to the bathroom. Which was like, a foot away in my tiny apartment. Bad move on my part though, because as soon as I muzzled the would-be guard dog, the rat took off under my bed, free to terrorize my apartment without the inconvenience of a psychotic cat on mood elevating drugs. With Phe locked away, howling from the bathroom, I found a broom and began jamming it under my bed in an attempt to scare out the rat. In my head, one jab of the broom would result in the rat thinking “Screw this, she has a BROOM! I am OUT of here!” while he skittered right out my front door. Not so much. A half hour later, there was no sign of him.

My friend, who was due to come over and hang out, called to see if I needed her to bring wine. “YES!” I shouted into the phone. “LOTS of wine.” Here is where I should tell you that said friend is almost pathologically afraid of mice. I knew I should tell her about the rat, but I also knew that meant she wouldn’t come over and I didn’t want to be alone. Like selfish people do, I chose to lie, but hint at the problem.

You'd need this too if there was a rat in your apartment.

“Um just so you know, I might have seen a mouse. But I’m not sure.” She was nervous, but she also knew I had mouse –sized balls of Ophelia fur that blew across my floor like tumbleweeds, so I think she weighed the odds and figured I was mouse free. Which I was. This fucker was a full-out rat. She came over, and with no sign of the rat invader, I released Ophelia from the bathroom. She stalked throughout the little apartment, sniffing the air and revealing her teeth to every shadow she came across, but there was no rat to be found. My friend and I chatted, drinking wine and laughing, and I managed to convince myself that the rat let itself out of the apartment the same way it got in. Until a look of pure fear came over my friend’s face. She pointed to the bookshelf across the room. There, with Ophelia staring on, books started falling off the shelves, one by one, like the library scene in Ghostbusters. The rat was behind them, pushing them to the floor with a loud BANG as each book hit. Once the shelf was cleared, its eyes gleamed green, right at us. My friend freaked. “It’s a RAT! A RAT!” Yeah, I knew that already. She jumped onto the couch with a bottle of wine in one hand and the broom in the other. Oh, no he didn’t. This rat not only invaded my apartment and terrified my friend, but now he was messing with my books? It was war.

I needed these guys.

I grabbed an empty shoebox and set to work. My friend screeched directions at me from the couch that mainly included her yelling things like “Kill it! Kill it with FIRE!” Ophelia chased the rat around until she cornered it, and I’d tried to jump in and trap it. We were getting close, but it’d always get away at the last second. I’d run screaming across the room with the shoebox, barely missing it each time. Finally, Phe got it cornered again. The two stood there staring at each other, with Ophelia howling. I snuck up ever so slowly, and then the rat pulled out its best move yet. It STOOD UP. And it was BIGGER than Ophelia. With this, my tough as nails Baltimore street cat flattened her ears on her head and literally backed away slowly, too smart to turn her back on it. Seeing her in this defeated stance was the last push I needed. I dove, and got that rat in the overturned shoebox. My friend started screaming in victory. She threw the lid at me, and I gently slid it under the opened end of the box so the rat was now inside the closed box, lid down. But now what? “You have to bring it outside,” my friend told me. “Get it OUT of here!” I was going to walk it down the three flights of stairs, but as soon as I picked it up, I felt its nails scratching on the lid against my hand and almost dropped it.

“Open my window.”

“What? Are you going to throw it out the window?”


She jumped from the couch to my bed, threw open the window, and leapt back onto the couch. Carefully, with rat-in-box-in-hand, I crawled across my bed on my knees. Carefully, I leaned out as far as I could reach and gently placed the whole box on my fire escape. I slammed the window shut and my friend came flying back over. We peered out the window with Ophelia and watched as the rat calmly used his rat hands to OPEN THE BOX. He then looked around, slowly stepped out of the box, and calmly walked off down the fire escape. I swear he turned and gave us one last mocking look and the middle finger with his little rodent hand.

And that is why that rat is an asshole.

(photos borrowed from,,,

Rex the German Shepherd

11 Apr

Asshole Example Four: Rex the German Shepherd

All of my friends babysat when we were growing up to make money. But no, I wasn’t down with that. Babies equaled zero fun. Parents tend to look down on you when you teach toddlers to do tricks for food, you can’t use babies as pillows when watching TV as you can with large dogs, and you can’t really race babies and bet Garbage Pail Kids cards on the outcome (or perhaps you can, but the races would be a lot slower and more boring). The only really gross thing you have to deal with with animals is picking up poop, and I for one will always say dog poop trumps baby poop in the “which is less disgusting” category any day. As is often the way with me, when it is Animals versus People, Animals win.

Preteen Me = A No Baby Zone. I was the Anti-Babysitter's Club.

That said, I chose to walk, groom, feed, and watch dogs, cats, birds, fish, horses and any other animals you could throw my way. I turned it into a mini business. In fact, I was so into it, my business grew and I needed to get a friend to join me, and my awesome grandparents who owned an engraving company gifted us with our own business cards. That’s right, I was nine and had my own business card  for the very originally named Dog Walkers, Inc.

Anyway, example four of animal assholery. Let’s call him Rex, because that was his name. Rex was a gorgeous German Shepherd owned by a neighborhood family who had three girls around my age whom I was friends with.  Rex was sweet and nice and fun to play with. As it turned out, Rex was also an Asshole. One March, when his family was away on vacation, they asked me to feed and watch him, something I had done for them often. He stayed at their house down the street, and my mother would take me over in the mornings to walk and feed him before school. After school I’d spend some quality time with him. This was working out quite well for us for about a week when I stopped by on the morning of my birthday. Since it’s right next to St. Patrick’s Day and I’m Irish, my mother made me a huge tray full of lime green Jello shamrocks to pass out to the class and cement myself as super cool in the social standings. They were in a metal dish and covered in tinfoil. Why I brought this into the house with me to feed Rex, I don’t know, but I did. I walked in, and Rex was waiting diligently by his empty food bowl, staring down at it with the precision of… well, with the precision of a German Shepherd.

Shepherdus Germanus (I made that up) says: "I am smarter than you are."

After a few pleasantries, I placed my treasured shamrocks on the floor and leaned over to fill up Rex’s bowl.  Out of nowhere, he turned and snapped at me, his white killer-dog teeth gleaming. I truly believe he only meant to snap the air (I’m defending the abuser! I’m so After School Special!), but he caught my temple and scraped down my cheek. Shocked, I backed up, hand against my bleeding face, wondering if I still had an eyeball and if not, how much attention that would get me. Meanwhile, Rex, knowing he did something very Bad Dog, decided to act like nothing had happened (a move I also employ from time to time) and causally walked towards the door, a sign to take him for a walk. In doing so, he walked straight across my tray of shamrock Jello, efficiently obliterating them under his huge Germanic paws. You thought he was going to eat them, didn’t you? Ha, a twist! I am M. Night Shamalan! German Shepherds, unlike me, are too smart to eat that crap.

I ran screaming to my mother who was waiting in the car. “Oh my God, what happened?!” she yelled.

“Rex STEPPED ON MY SHAMROCKS! They are RUINNNNED!” I screamed back. I had priorities and my bloody face was a distant second. My mom, never one to think you’re injured unless she sees actual bone jutting out, (did I mention we’re Irish?), took me back into the house and cleaned off my wounds.

“Superficial, “ she deemed them. While I had teeth marks trailing down the right side of my face, no real damage was done, other than to my birthday dessert. And my mother promptly reminded me, and this is true, that it was really my fault, because you never ever under any circumstances EVER lean over a dog’s food bowl, especially a dog who is not currently with his family and whose breed is used by law enforcement to hunt out and harm bad guys like a furry heat-seeking missile. So no, Rex was not an asshole for “biting” me in the face. But he was an asshole for stepping on my birthday dessert and ruining my chance at upping my social standing. I blame him for not becoming prom queen* years later. Not cool, Rex, not cool.

"Half the people here hate me, and the other half of the people here only like me because they think I pushed someone under a bus. This is not good." -Mean Girls, prom queen scene

*Okay, my school didn’t have a prom queen. But I bet if Rex hadn’t ruined those shamrocks, I would’ve been so beloved people would have voted me prom queen, even though I went to an all-girls high school and we didn’t do that.

Seagulls, AKA Sky Rats

4 Apr

Animals are Assholes, Example Three: Seagulls. All of them.

This will likely come as no surprise to most people, but seagulls are jerks. However, they are impressive jerks. Summers spent on the Jersey Shore while growing up provided me with ample seagull-watching time, and I came to the conclusion at a young age that seagulls were basically these evil-genius, thieving, Sky Ninjas, expertly swooping and dive-bombing out of nowhere, stealing poor, unsuspecting grilled cheeses out of the chubby hands of Canadian tourists who wore knee socks with sandals.

Innocent woman. Thieving seagull.

I’m going to ruin the ending here, but let’s just get this out of the way right here and now: When I was a little, weird looking, huge-eyed girl, I was attacked by a flock of lunatic, flesh-eating seagulls, and you’re just lucky I’ve lived to tell the tale. But before we get there, let’s talk about a few other seagull experiences I’ve had. We will go backwards in time.

One summer, we arrived at my grandmother’s beach apartment to find that a seagull had made her nest on our balcony, complete with two eggs. My father threatened to drop the whole thing off the seventh floor balcony, but he succumbed to the pleas my friend and I screamed at him. Soon enough, they hatched, and we had two teeny, fuzzy seagull babies bopping  around on the other side of the sliding glass door. We loved them. And named them Beavis and Butthead. Actually, if I am going for accuracy here, my father named them Beavis and Butthead. Unfortunately, the mama seagull did not understand that we were giving up a prime beach-front and pool-front balcony for her little brood, and she would swoop and scream and attack if you so much as cracked the sliding door open. I understand she was doing her mama bear thing, but seriously, lady bird, you took over our spot. After avoiding being killed by mom bird for a week, we left them there on the bird crap covered balcony and headed home. I like to imagine that perhaps B & B grew up to be the only non-asshole seagulls in Wildwood, but I doubt it.

Baby seagulls: Misleadingly cute.

The previous summer, I had taken three friends with me to the shore.  We were thirteen and we were super cool, hanging out on the boardwalk in our tie-dyes and jelly shoes. One innocent afternoon, the four of us were on the boardwalk when one of us had the great idea to get funnel cake. If you don’t know what funnel cake is, you need to reevaluate your life. It’s fried dough! Covered in powdered sugar! Leave it to the Italians to create something so miraculous. Anyway, we acquired the delicious funnel cake and we walked and ate it as we headed back to my grandmom’s apartment.

Funnel cake = heaven.

Suddenly, we felt a breeze on our heads. I distinctly remember my friend, holding the plate full of goodness, look up slowly. She literally did a triple take, and I looked up to see what she was gawking at. That’s when I saw them: approximately one million seagulls were silently hovering above our heads, flapping their demon wings, waiting for the right time to attack. My friend made her move; she started a slow jog, still bravely defending the fried delicacy. The birds called her bluff though and swooped, fanning up her perfectly 90’s hair sprayed hair. They would not be daunted. I’m not sure if this part is true or not but I distinctly remember screaming “Ruuuuunnnnn!!!!! Save yourself!!!!!!” with the same intensity used by Mel Gibison to yell “Freedom!” in Braveheart. And run she did, after she launched the paper plate up into the air at the birds. As she took off screaming down the boardwalk, the three of us left behind found ourselves covered in powdered sugar and funnel cake bits. We threw up our arms to protect our heads from the attacking birds as cake rained down on us like debris from a bomb blast. People stood and pointed, laughing hysterically, obviously not knowing the grave danger we were all in. We took off after our friend, slipping and sliding in our plastic shoes, and funnel cake was ruined for all of us for years to come.

The scene of the bird crime.

I could go on and on about these sky rodents, but let’s get to the party, shall we? When I was a wee thing, my parents decided it would be fun to sit on the beach after dinner and feed the birds. How sweet, how fun, how picturesque. What should we feed them? Doritos sounded like the logical choice. Who doesn’t love Doritos? Well, I’ll tell you who does love Doritos: seagulls. So there I was, happily sitting on the beach with my boy’s haircut and awesomely ugly bathing suit, innocently tossing the tasty finger-staining chips into the wind and into my mouth. One seagull arrived, and then another. I started to get a little bit nervous as the numbers started doubling and quadrupling, but my father egged me on.

“Keep throwing them! Toss them away from you. Higher into the air!” Alas, I could barely hear him over the wing flapping and ungodly sqwaking emanating from the now hundreds of birds. They were everywhere. And they were attacking me, hurling their heavier-then-you-expect-bodies into me, trying to take the whole bag out of my hands. It was like The Birds, but with more sand and processed fake cheese. I was surrounded, I was terrified, and I was bloody. I’m not sure if it was claws or a beak, but I ended up with my mouth and chin completely scraped up. Finally, my parents shooed the killer flock away from me before they picked all the meat off of me and just left behind a pile of Dorito-stained bones, but the gig was up. I now knew, and you can see it in the look of terror in my eyes, that seagulls were straight-up assholes.

Post attack.

Check out the look of fear. And the facial wound. And the killer hair cut.

Photos are borrowed from (in order): North News Pictures Ltd,,,, My dad.