We live in a residential area of a Dallas suburb that used to be a large cattle ranch with a couple of mills for grinding grain along a winding tributary of the Trinity River. Our house sits next to a greenbelt park that is the creek where the mill once sat to service the Josey Ranch. We are located on a small hill that would’ve been the bank of the mill pond back then. Hence the swamp fauna that live in our immediate environment.
We are visited yearly by mallard ducks, and sometimes Canadian geese on winter holiday. There are squadrons after squadrons of dragonflies, and the many small insects they search for and prey upon. We have the occasional coyote and families of raccoons residing under the Josey Lane bridge. Frogs and toads and seasonal mayflies… and more than our fair share of mosquitoes.
But by far, the biggest pain in the tuchus are the rats. Especially in the cold of the winter, the heat of the Texas summer, and whenever we get enough rain to wash them out of their nests in the storm drains when the rats move indoors to have sex parties in the attic, squaredances in the walls, and raids on the kitchen, especially the dog’s bowl, for extra snacking and pooping on the floor.
We are not talking about cute rats here. The mice in the Paffooney that leads off this essay are definitely not the ones that caused me to write this anti-rodentia-disgusticas rant. Those mice are actually me and my family portrayed in cartoon form. We are talking about more than fifteen roof rats and one big Norway rat, numbers that reflect only the ones we have slain so far in this pitched battle.
The fight started a couple of years ago when they first moved into the house through a hole in the roof and another one that opened when bricks fell out of the wall above the back patio door, allowing rat access to the insulation and the spaces behind the interior drywall panels. Once they were already inside, I tried to stop them first with rat poison. I had three confirmed kills that way, But then it began to seem that no matter how much poison I set out in poison traps in the attic, their numbers only increased, never diminished. In fact, I discovered they were eating the poison and enjoying it as much as they did the bait. We had created at least two generations of poison-resistant rats. They broke into a sack of poison I had on the patio and ate every morsel of it. Rats started sending me thank-you notes in the mail. (Wait a minute. That sentence may have been an exaggeration for comic effect. The thank-you turds were left in the kitchen, not the mailbox.)
We really didn’t start making headway until we discovered the right kind of trap. Snap-traps didn’t work. Every rat seems to know how to eat the bait on a snap trap without setting off the snapper. Electrocution box traps didn’t work. They simply ignored the peanut butter bait. We never caught a single rat in those traps.
But sticky traps… like flypaper for rats,,, didn’t work either… until we started placing them in the escape routes the rats used to flee from the family dog. Suddenly the traps began to fill up as Jade, our half-corgi half-rat-terrier, learned to chase them towards the traps. In the last three months, twelve more roof rats, and today’s amazingly large, eighteen-inch-from-nose-to-tail Norway rat makes thirteen caught by sticky trap. Ha-ha, Mortimer! Your days are numbered now. Don’t look at me with those skeptical black rat-eyes. I am winning the Rat War. At least for now.
More Simple Answers to Complicated Problems
Part A, Solving Racism
I know… Saying I can solve racism simply marks me as something of an idiot. It is a complicated and deeply-embedded weakness of the human race. We are programmed with certain instincts that make us fearful of anyone or anything unknown to us, unfamiliar, or obviously different in some manner.
Consider allowing someone like Minnie Mouse to hug my young daughter. As people go, she is somewhat suspicious-looking. Notice the color of her skin on the neck, ankles, and arms. This is a black person apparently wearing white-face makeup. Is that not something suspicious? Something to be cautious about? In fact, look at the mouse ears and black, mouse nose. She’s not even human! She’s an anthropomorphic mouse-lady. Tucker Carlson would warn you against trusting her with the Princess. And if you point out how silly these arguments are about a Disneyland performer in a costume that represents Minnie Mouse, a character we all know and love, I would say, “YES! Exactly! An unknown person hiding her identity under a costume that will put adults and children at ease… and make them vulnerable to who-knows-what?” Maybe Florida Governor DeSaniflush was right to attack Disney by charging his Floridians more in taxes in the Disney name.
Yes, human beans are inherently suspicious, paranoid, and hateful when it comes to groups that are different than the one we identify with.
Of course, there is a simple answer if you are only willing to look at it that way. There should be no racism because we are not different. We are all one race, the human race.
That means, Mr. Toilet-Cleaning-Chemicals, that you and I are actually the same. You are not made, as I have believed incorrectly, of poop-dissolving chemicals as my demented and paranoid brain keeps thinking because of your DeSantis misnomer. You are not the saint you believe you are because of the meaning of your name in Spanish either. We are both human beans. The same race.
And you are the same race as the beautiful young ballerina I pictured before I added the photo of you thinking about eating too many baked beans, and then drinking Coca Cola while eating Mentos. You are not going to explode. Because even if you consume those ingredients you were thinking about, they can’t actually dissolve the poop you are filled with most of your time on Earth as a human bean.
As a teacher I learned the hard way that all kids are kids. They are all human beans. They all have blood and brains and wants and needs and loves and hates. No matter what color they are. No matter what culture they grew up in, or what religion their parents taught them, or failed to teach them. As a teacher, you have to be able to love all of them. Even the ugly ones. Even the ones whose names remind me of poop-dissolving chemicals and seem to be constantly full of fear and hatred and racism.
Here’s the skinny on those things racists need to hear;
The human beans you need to hate and fear and distrust, the truly evil people, come in every color, creed, culture, and calamitous character. Yes, rich white people, they even come in the color white. No matter what Tucker Carlson says… or thinks about a malevolent Minnie Mouse who may somehow be trying to “replace us.”
And the people you need to get more familiar with, whose culture you need to witness, whose stories you need to hear, and you desperately need to learn to love, come in every color too. Yes, rich white people, even in the color white. I am no more a reverse racist than I am a racist.
And there is a simple cure for racism.
Jesus taught it. So did Buddha, Mohammed, Zoaster, Walt Whitman, and Alan Watts. Jean Paul Sartre too, come to think of it.
The cure is to love everybody. Hate nobody. Suprisingly, if you do that simple thing, nobody will hate you in return. Racism is then cured. I know it is not feasible. Not everybody will even bother to listen to this advice. But the world won’t get any worse while you try to make it happen.
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