Thursday, February 16, 2017

Rats--and the problem of Matthias Goerne

“All right,” I told her, “today’s problem is what to do about Matthias Goerne. I’ve finished up with Trump—I got him straightened around yesterday. So, once everybody gets on the same page—it takes awhile for some people to catch up with my lightning intellect—we’ll be entirely done with him! Poosh! Back to reality TV, where we can all safely ignore him!”

“Poosh?” said Lady. “What’s Poosh?”

“It’s the particularly squishy sound that Trump makes when he goes ‘poof,’” I told her. “No idea why, but there it is….”

“Well, I’m ready to move away from Trump,” said Lady. “In fact, haven’t I told you that this blog used to be a Trump-free zone? And then, all of a sudden, there he was! Just as he was on television, every time I turned it on, and on every magazine cover, every time I went to the grocery store. It got to be completely annoying….”

“Definitely time for Goerne,” I told her. “You remember what I told Naïa, all those years ago? Back before the rats….”

Naïa celebrated her fifteenth birthday with the announcement that she wanted a couple of rats for her birthday. She reported this quite casually at an art opening that we all attended.

“Ahh,” I told her, “and have you informed your landlord that you’ll be keeping rats?”

She chose not to respond.

“What about the health department?”

She examined a corner of the ceiling intently.

“And the department of sanitation?”

Began whistling Dixie!

So the rats arrived. But there was, as anyone could have imagined, a problem. For it turned—and please don’t inquire too much right here—that the sexes of the rats were disordered. The intention had been to create a unisex environment, or perhaps a homosexual environment. But it turned out that one of the rats was male. Or perhaps it was female—I don’t remember. Anyway, it was some unwanted sex.

“So we had to call the guy in the outskirts of Caguas,” said Lady. “And he got upset and complained, but he eventually came. But it took him so long, that he came at rush hour, and the traffic was terrible. And then he couldn’t find parking, so he was calling us every two minutes, threatening to turn around and go back to Caguas. So by the time he arrived, everybody was in quite a state….”

“Well, of course,” I told her. “What did you expect, when you agreed to go along with such lunacy? And whoever heard of a fifteen-year old girl wanting rats?”

“What’s wrong with rats?” asked Lady. “And what should she want?”

“A horse,” I told her. “Which would be entirely more sensible. You can keep it in the shower stall—it’ll be entirely content there….”

“That’s ridiculous,” said Lady. “And how would we shower?”

“Atop the horse,” I told her. “Thus solving two problems at once. Oh, and the water will whisk away any little waste the horse might have shed….”

Lady went off to paint some houses—her own personal variant of whistling Dixie.

So the man with the rats—or the rattor—arrived with an assortment of rats, all of the desired sex. Naïa, unable to make up her mind, chose two. Oh, and that’s in addition to the two she already had. So that left the odd rat, of the errant sex, but the rattor had the solution!

And that was?

Throw the damn rat over the balcony and go home!

Both Lady and Naïa were outraged.

“Well, it sounds like a perfectly sensible solution to me,” I told her. “After all, that rat was shop-worn. In fact, it was a used rat—and who’s going to buy that? Besides, the rat will have a perfectly splendid time in Old San Juan, with its many exotic restaurants and their attached dumpsters. Monday, it’s Vietnamese! Tuesday…”

Lady was outraged.

“You can’t have a rat eating out of a dumpster!” she snorted.

“That is precisely,” I began.

“So then Naïa began to tear up, and it was her fifteenth birthday, after all, so we decided: we will keep the rat, even with the aberrant sex…..”

“This is getting to be like the Trump presidency after all,” I told her. “It’s going on and on, and the sordid details keep getting worse and worse.”

“You don’t know the half of it,” said Lady. “Because we decided: the rat would have to be fixed.”


“De-sexed,” said Lady. “You know, castrated….”

“What!” I told her. “You’re actually going to spend good money….”

Well, there was a problem, of course. And that was: who would fix the rat?

“The vet up the street from the café just laughed,” said Lady.

“The vet up the street charges people just for walking past his shop,” I told Lady. “Anyway, now you see the advantage of a horse….”

“Well, so we finally found one,” said Lady, “though it was out on 65th Infantry….”

65th Infantry is a charming road, with only two little problems. First, every driver on the Eastern half of Puerto Rico is on it, stalled, and honking their horns. Second, it will then start to rain, and the road will instantly be completely flooded.

“You actually went out to 65th Infantry?” I asked her. “And did you get your will written? Your affairs sorted out? And why didn’t we know about this, so that we could have given a farewell party?”

“So we get to the vet,” said Lady, who has either learned from or taught to Naïa the fine art of ignoring, “and it turns out, yes! The vet will be happy to fix the rat!”

“Microsurgery,” I said, “though come to think of it, maybe he could do a job on Trump….”

Dirty look….

“Sorry,” I told her, “you know, it’s my King Charles’ head…”

She gives me the punch line.

“But it will cost a hundred bucks…..”

I’m speechless.

Fortunately, that doesn’t last long.

“You are absolutely NOT,” I begin.

“But then guess what,” Lady surges on. “It turns out that we’ve been to the vet before. In fact, that’s where we got Lorca!”

Federico García Lorca—in the rarified world of the Poets’ Passage, that’s a toy Chihuahua.

“And you know what? It turns out that we have a credit! They charged us for a medicine or a shot or something. Anyway, it was 90 dollars, and they kept it for us! Unbelievable!”

“Absolutely, since every one of those businesses on 65th Infantry is a den of thieves,” I told her.

“So now, it’s only going to cost us 10 bucks,” said Lady.

“And how much did you pay for the rat,” I asked.

“Well, that was only one buck….”

“Anyway,” I told her, “it’s not costing you ten bucks. You should ask for the ninety dollars back, get rid of the rat, and hold tight for a couple of days. Then I’ll go down to the bus depot, and pick up a couple specimens for Naïa.”

“It won’t be the same,” said Lady. “Naïa has fallen in love with that rat….”

She goes away, and I’m left thinking. Wasn’t today going to be the day to worry about Matthias Goerne? But then Lady reappears.

“Don’t tell Nico about the 100 bucks,” she tells me. Nico is her husband, a Frenchman. They like snails, but not rats.

“He might not understand,” she told me.

I go off, leaving the rats behind.

Now, what am I going to do about Matthias Goerne?