One of the major perks of moving to LA from NY besides my obvious top three -- weather that never changes, more space for the money,and a pack of smokes is about three dollars less -- is the absence of rodents and cockroaches in my home. I'm a pretty tough cookie, (I am a New Yorker, after all) so when I came face to face with my new roommates who refused to pay rent and wreaked havoc on my life, I had to take control.
I was nursing a seriously bruised heart from a recent disappearing act flawlessly executed by a guy I thought was on the same train as I was. Turned out his stop was San Francisco with a different woman, and mine was passed Fucked Up, disembarking at Deep Introspection.
My roommate was gone for two glorious weeks. Just me, my dog and quiet. The triumvirate of healing and a recipe for restoration.
On my first day solo in the house I cleaned, organized my desk, set some short term goals, and got ready for (my newly learned tool,) meditation before bedtime.
Around 2 am I'm in my tank and panties, (sans contacts or glasses) I stumble my way to the kitchen for my dog's water dish. Bending down blindly to pick it up, I am introduced to perhaps one of the largest rodents I've ever seen.
I screamed, it screamed back. I moved one way, it moved in the same direction. Both of us were scared out of our minds as we danced the, "No you first! Please get the hell out of my way!" rat dance. It was my homage to I Love Lucy.
Now, I've seen big-ass rats before. Once while baby sitting in NY I strolled a three-year-old down 12th Street as she practiced her new word,"Doggie!" by pointing and clapping every time she spied one.
She happily exclaimed,"Doggie!" and pointed to a rat the size of a fat watermelon walking through the automatic doors and directly into a D'Agastino's. That, my friends, is a big rodent.
It's gross enough seeing rats on the street, but this time, it's personal. I'm in Los Angeles for cryin' out loud! This isn't supposed to happen here.
I locked myself in my bedroom with my dog, ( who it turns out isn't phased by vermin) and a bottle of Vodka; the only liquor we had in the house.
Needless to say, meditation went out the window.
I knew I had to call someone. But who? My landlord was on vacation in Canada with his family , besides, what could anyone possibly do to help? Scared, vulnerable and alone I thought about calling a guy I used to date who lives in Hollywood. Just to crash on his couch. He'd totally think this is a rat ruse and clearly his chance to get some tail. I opted to call my friend, Al. He and his wife recently moved from around the corner from me in Los Feliz, to Van fuckin' Nuys. Not even rat infestation can make me drive to the Valley. He suggested I get on the internet to find a 24-hour exterminator. Great idea, but this isn't NY. I can't even get a frickin' Moo Shu Pork delivered to me past 9pm how the hell am I going to find a 24-hour rat wrangler?
I start drinking. Heavily. In bed. Sexy, huh?
In my vodka delirium I heard a cascade of talons behind my bed in the walls. It sounds like they're going to burst through the sheet rock and join me for a cocktail. What did that dirty rat do? Go back to his little rat family and tell them that the human is alone and totally freaked out?
I imagine the rat sounding like James Cagney, "Now she's wasted, see, and we can really fuck with her, see... Get her to leave the house, see, and take over! First Los Feliz, see, then the world!"
Insert maniacal rat laughter here.
Where's Bruce Davison when you need him? I'd even settle for Crispin Glover ( from the remake of Willard... are you with me people?).
I stuff a towel from my hamper in the crack below the door frame and somewhere between the last of the Vodka and six in the morning I pass out.
The next day I ran to Home Depot to look for humane traps. I don't like killing anything. I tried to find these "live" traps as they're called, so I can spare the rat's soul from being tortured.
Rat-diculous? Perhaps. But even more nuts is the fact that they don't make humane traps large enough for the size rodents I had. I drove all over LA, going into every hardware store imaginable and it looks as though the rats must die. I don't want any of this rat killing karma on my head so I called in professional help.
The exterminator who came to my house was named George -- or "My Hero," as I like to call him. He knew by looking at the (ugh) rat droppings, the age, gender, and political orientation of the rats. I already knew they had to be Republicans because they were making a mess of things and refused to leave. Turns out I had "rattus rattus"; otherwise known as roof rats. Apparently these are very common in Los Angeles, and George said he's been getting a lot of calls about this very issue after the Griffith Park fire. These guys are like the missing link of rodents. They can adapt to any environment, gnaw through wood, stucco and concrete. They are the Cirque D' Soliel performers of the vermin world, using their tails for balance and acrobatics on powerlines and rooftops.
Geoge laid out traps (that look like black shoe boxes with holes and peanut butter inside) in my attic, kitchen, laundry room, and under the house.
Over the next week the scratching in the walls subsided and a funky smell emanated from the kitchen. It can only be described as...death.
Rattus rattus was no more. I prayed the noxious odor would serve as a giant rat warning. Those who enter will swim with the fishes.
That night, I meditated in silence. Looking at my statue of the Elephant God, Ganesh while chanting my mantra, I realize his foot is resting on none other than, rattus rattus himself. Namaste rattus. Namaste.