Husbands Are Rats


Husbands Are Rats

“The Outsidah”

Your Husband Is/Isn’t Disgusting
Doug Brendel

Halloween approacheth. A time for the grim and the gruesome. The creepy and the crawly. Also preschoolers in Iron Man underwear with plastic Sponge Bob trick-or-treat buckets.
In our outer Linebrook neighborhood, we’re doing Halloween right, this year. We’ve brought in the creepiest Halloween feature of all: rats. Not children in rat costumes. Not rubber-rat squeeze toys, or fuzzy stuffed rat toys laced with catnip for your tabby. No, we’re talking actual rats.
There go my property values.
There is nothing like a letter from the Board of Health to set your Halloween season in motion a full month early. Mine arrived recently with the following ghoulish news: “The Health Office has received two calls from residents” in our neighborhood “regarding the presence of rats on their properties.”
My initial, visceral response was, of course, denial. These residents, in complaining about “rats,” must have been referring to wayward husbands. Maybe even just lazy husbands. The first half-page of the letter was chock full of “Look for Evidence” tips, and you can easily see how they might refer to husbands: “Droppings may be found near shelter.” “Tracks, including footprints, may be seen in mud.” “Sounds, such as gnawing, are common.” Husbands. Yes.
“Walk around after dark with a flashlight,” the Board of Health recommends. “This will help you see where rats are going.” I would add, Get in your car and follow him. It’s possible he’s just headed for an innocent drink at a downtown bar.
And how to deal with your husband problem, er, rat problem? “Clutter gives rats lots of places to sleep.” I never thought of it this way. But it’s true. Especially during football season, a mini-mountain range of football-watching stuff accumulates around the couch — as the Board of Health puts it, “Fresh accumulations of gnawed material indicate active infestations” — and as the season continues, the couch somehow becomes more and more inviting as a sleeping place. Look, I have, right here at my fingertips, my Cheetos and my six-pack and my Tums. And the Pats are playing. And afterward, you know, they’ll play again, in only a week. It seems foolish to go to all the effort of standing up and climbing all the way upstairs to bed.
The Board of Health also recommends that you “Clean out your basement and yard.” It seems to me, if your husband is a rat, he is not going to do this for you.
Eventually, however, if you read the Board of Health letter with anything like an open mind, you have to realize that it’s probably not about husbands. These are actual rats they’re talking about. With greasy hair and beady little eyes and a willingness to gorge themselves on just about any junk that happens to be available.
Wait. Maybe I should distinguish from husbands even further. OK, let’s try this: A rat has teeth like razors and claws like needles. Devil’s ears. A long fleshy tail. It’s like he’s wearing a nauseating Halloween costume; he just can’t take it off.
So now that the Ipswich Board of Health has advised us we have rats living in our neighborhood — freeloading, I might add, since they have yet to pay a penny in property taxes — our household has committed to an all-out rodent counter-offensive. We will do as the Board of Health recommends. We will clear out our junk. We will rework our firewood-stacking strategy. Most painful of all, we will cease adding to our compost heap — a beautiful hodgepodge of gradually decomposing organic stuff, big enough for astronauts orbiting the earth to take snapshots of. Henceforth, we’ll reluctantly employ a totally enclosed compost system, utterly airtight, utterly modern, utterly unworthy of Abigail Adams and the history of the Commonwealth.
Halloween night, when your doorbell rings, and someone says “Trick or treat!”, but it doesn’t sound quite like a child … if it sounds like the late Paul Lynde, voicing the role of Templeton the Rat in the movie version of Charlotte’s Web … or if it sounds like the actual gnawing of the actual teeth of an actual rodent … don’t open the door.
On the other hand, if it’s your husband, let him in. Forgive him. He was only being himself.

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