As a child, in the summer, my mother would throw us outside for the entire day. We were only allowed inside for lunch. If we got thirsty, we had to drink from the hose. And let me tell you, nothing quenches thirst on a miserable hot day like warm, rubber tasting water from a rusty hose nozzle. (Also, in searching for a photo I just found this is also unhealthy. Awesome.)
We did what we could to occupy ourselves. It usually involved digging holes in the yard. We would create this whole interlocking city with a series of canals and locks. We had a whole section of dirt in the yard where we could spread out. It was like a miniature, muddy Venice. These games with my little sister and brother usually devolved into someone getting pissed and destroying Venice in some kind of Godzilla crossover movie. It was ugly.
But our favorite activity was hanging out in the kiddie pool. We would drag the hard plastic pool into whatever spot of shade we could find. Then we would fill it up as high as we could with water. And the three of us would jump in.
We played a game called “Piranha” most often. Despite it’s ominous name, it entailed nothing more than us letting our legs trail behind us while we pulled ourselves around the perimeter of the pool on our hands. We would travel around the edge, whirling faster and faster, singing this song: “Piranha, piranha, piranha, piran.”
I have no idea why this was so much fun for us. As far as I know this game never culminated in us biting each other or anything like that. Which is actually very surprising considering my family.
One day, we were in the kiddie pool, playing Piranha when we heard a squeaking. We looked up, and there, by the water faucet on the side of our house, was a rat!
I’m sure this rat was just like any other typical rat you would see anywhere in Florida. But for some reason, in my mind I have it built up as some disgusting mutation of a rat. Actually, it looks like the grand high witch as a rat in that movie Witches.
My brother and I were grossed out by the presence of the rat. But we also didn’t want to do anything about it. We were very young.
My little sister, however, thought the rat was adorable (is it any surprise that she has a pet ferret now?). She jumped out of the pool and started carefully creeping up towards the rat.
“What are you doing?”
“It’s cute and I want to try to pet it.”
My brother and I laughed at her. “Don’t do that. It’s going to bite you.”
“No it won’t. I just want to pet it.”
My brother and I started yelling at the rat to try to get it to run away. We began splashing water in it’s direction, hoping to chase it off. Notice that we didn’t get out of the pool. We weren’t going to get bit by some rat just to save my sister.
My sister yelled at us to stop trying to scare it away. She was finally close enough to pet the nasty thing. She reached down, closer and closer.
My brother and I were mesmerized. Watching in anticipation. Wondering if she was going to get bit as predicted.
She reached down, and the fucking rat bit her!
My brother and I started cracking up. Laughing at her. Saying I told you so.
She went inside, crying to find our mother and tell her that we were making fun of her for getting bit by a rat. I don’t know if my mother ever even took her to get shots or anything. She could have gotten rabies for all we knew.
And J, if you are reading this, it really is your own damn fault. We tried to stop you.