We have this cat, Apollo, who is a living, breathing, killing machine. He’s like the Dexter Morgan of felines. The really disturbing realization is that as a domesticated house cat, he has 24/7 access to food. He’s not killing to survive, he’s slaughtering for sport.
And like all good kitties, who love their humans, Apollo shares his kills with us.
Somewhere along the way, the boys decided I was the remover of creepy creatures from our home. A moth flying around your room? Call Dad. A potato bug crawling along the wall? Call Dad. Some googly-eyed, hairy-ass spider the size of a salad bowl – that I am pretty sure had a switch blade – casing the joint? Call Dad.
So it makes perfect logical sense to call dear old Dad when the cat drags some half dead-sparrow, or completely dead mouse, into the house.
But it’s never a simple acknowledgement that there’s some dead, fur-bearing rodent in our home. The boys need to alert me in graphic detail, “Dad! Apollo killed another mouse. It’s over by the fussball table. He ate its head. Gross!”
I actually don’t mind being the He-Man, who removes icky things from our home. It makes me feel butch. Every kid needs a dad, who isn’t afraid of these sorts of situations – maybe especially kids with gay dads. Got a creepy-crawly in your kitchen? I’m no limp-wristed sissy. Call me! Nothing scares me.
Well, except for rats. I’m terrified of rats.
Once, when we lived in a Oakland, there was a dead roof rat by our garage. I was so creeped out that my best friend had to pick it up with a shovel and toss it in the garbage can; all the while making fun of me.
The boys know about this musophobia, or rat-phobia, of mine, and they enjoy exploiting it.
Recently, they called me into the family room: Apollo had brought a mouse in the night before. Somehow it had escaped his clutches. Now it was hiding under the television stand. The boys and I got down flat on our stomachs trying to catch a glimpse of it, and hopefully catch it in a butterfly net. Not seeing anything, I stood up.
That’s when Niko said he saw it, describing it as kind of cute, with a great big, fat tail. I froze. I told him he was wrong; mice have cute little tails. Gus added they hadn’t wanted to say anything before, but they were pretty sure it was really a baby rat.
I stepped back, abandoning all paternal instincts, as the boys remained prostrate, eye-level with the evil creature. Suddenly, Gus yelled, “Here it comes! It is a rat.” That’s when any vestige of being butch vanished. I screamed like a little girl and jumped backward, in a single leap, into an armchair.
Out from under the television stand tore the sweetest-looking little mouse you’ve ever seen. The boys looked at me on the chair and squealed with laughter. They had punked me. They had punked me good.
In the end, I was able to capture the mouse, and release it to the canal across the street.
That act of bravery has been forgotten. The boys only remember my less than valiant response to coming face-to-feet with a perceived rat. They think it’s hysterical. Hopefully, they find it funny because it was so out of character for me. After all, they know they can rely on me to save them from all sorts of horrible creatures.
Did I mention the spider with a switchblade?