Why Every Rat Is Guido

Originally published May 2012

Back in the 1980s, there was a lot of construction going on in the neighborhood of my second-floor Upper West Side hovel. Gigantic creepy rodents with long tails, disturbed by all the racket and disruption, were spotted entering our apartment building as if they owned the place, or at least paid rent there.

Richard, my boyfriend at the time, would report sightings of the rats in the laundry room and even in the lobby, slipping through the cracks in the mailbox wall. That, of course, did not make me a happy camper, but I had not yet had a close encounter with a rodent and wanted to keep it that way. I succeeded — until the radiator pipes under my floorboards sprang a leak, and workers were sent to make repairs. When they finished patching the pipes, they departed, leaving a gigantic hole in the floor around the radiator in the living room.

Late that night, as Rich and I prepared to sleep, there was a loud, loud, LOUD rustling sound from the kitchen — a sound from something definitely larger than a mouse. I admit to screaming hysterically and turning every light on in the apartment. Rich went into the living room with whatever weapon he was able to grab at the time (his drum sticks? a yardstick? not a baseball bat, since we didn’t have baseball paraphernalia at that time) and made a lot of noise, but fortunately the critter escaped (I say fortunately because I don’t think I could have handled an actual sighting – the sound was horrible enough).

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