Thursday, February 18, 2010

Anti Phobia Tactics

I can take a lot of scary things in life. I've lived surrounded by crime, near war zones, in close company with big cockroaches, at risk of earthquake and tsunami, dependent on maniacal taxi drivers on roads filled with murderous drivers, crossing snowy mountains on icy one-lane roads, and so on and so forth. There are more daring people out there than me, for sure. In fact, I'm not a huge risk taker and that doesn't bother me. But neither would I describe myself as a coward.

But I am terrified of rodents.

I hate mice, rats, weevils, gerbils, hamsters, capivaras, ROUS's, and even rabbits. I'm not sure if rabbits count as rodents, but they're the same size and often the same colour and they bother me. I fervently believe that animals, most notably rodents, and humans were not created to coexist. They can have the sewers and the fields with tall grass, if I CAN KEEP MY HOUSE.

And if you want to give me a scare, tell me you just saw a mouse run across the floor of the restaurant we're (true story from Kosovo), point out a mouse puttering around in the corridor a few feet away (true story from England), wave a pan with a baby rat in it around in the air for me to see (true story from Indonesia), or explain to me that those tiny black oval-shaped lumps in the windowsill right above where my pillow lies are mouse droppings (true story from the U.S.).

If you want to be a friend, even if there is a rodent peering into my purse as if it's about to jump in, DO NOT TELL ME. If you see a rodent run across my head while I'm sleeping, DO NOT TELL ME. What I don't know can't hurt me, and I'm passionate about this creed when it comes to rodents.

So just one more little sign of God's sense of humour are the sounds I hear every evening in the ceiling above me now. I'm living in a village hotel with a big rice field slash cow pasture outside my window. Bugs and critters are to be expected. But an entire rat colony living in the rafters of my bedroom? Who would have thought. It's like this hotel is two hotels: one for the humans and one for the other guys.

Every evening, as I listen to my music and do this or that in my room, the noise I produce seems to inspire them. When I had company they wouldn't stop running back and forth. It sounds like there is a huge raven trapped in my ceiling, but try as I might to convince them I don't want to know, my colleagues have insisted on assuring me that they are in fact rats.

And they are one metre away from me, running on a plyboard ceiling which is threatening to cave in at the corners. Any day now, that plyboard could crumble and I have this picture in my mind of hundreds of rats falling on my head, climbing down my body and running out of the room. And this idea is not my imagination running wild. All the ingredients are there: fragile ceiling and hundreds of rats.

And just to make sure there was no doubt, I had the privilege of watching a baby dude get lost in the kitchen. Scared, it ran into my favourite pan and hid there until the hotel cleaning boy took the pan off its peg on the wall, waved it in the air for me to see, then released it into the wild. I have to take that pan off the wall every evening, if not to cook in, at least to access the cutting board hanging behind it.

But miraculously, I'm not feeling the familiar frozen fear. This may be curing my phobia. They're there but they haven't bothered me yet. And they're there in such enormous proportions that I can't take it all that seriously.

If you've got a phobia, you should try putting yourself in a situation where its looming threat is so huge you can't help but roll your eyes and chuckle.

1 comment:

Joybird said...

Kati + rodents = Joybird + snakes


And I've had rats in my ceiling as well. They are so loud that sometimes I bang on the ceiling with an umbrella to tell them to shut up. I have borrowed my friend's comfort dog from time to time who is part terrier. He catches the slightest scrabble and he wakes up and barks. (the only time he barks) He's a total ratter. And you know, they clear out for a while.

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