Not men as rats, in Holly Golightly-speak; not cowardly men. Not super rats, as she also calls them, the men of the conniving variety. Not even a scared little mouse, as is the man who abandons her. I mean a rat. Vermin.
Welcome to the big city. You’ve finally made it here after so much dreaming, so much planning. In three weeks you were packed and in the city of your dreams, far from the suburban life in which you felt stagnant. You found the brownstone apartment that you wanted, larger than the standard, and when the sun drifts lazily into your room in the morning, alight throughout the day, you know that you will never leave. Hardwood floors with just the right amount of creak and decadent ceiling moldings. You have a fire escape, too, just like Miss Golightly.
The city is so different from the life you’ve known. It is hard and difficult, but because of this, you love it more. Your subway rat sightings have been as a fortunate low; perhaps you’ve seen their slick bulk and slithering tails only twice in your entirety here. And the men are not as ratty as you thought of them to be.
You live in the city now, and with it comes the overarching sense of invincibility. That is what happens when you move to the city: you know that you can do everything, that you can overcome anything.
You never contemplated rats.
Your first encounter with a rat will be unlike anything you anticipated, or had not anticipated.
It is only appropriate for you to scream and jump on a piece of furniture most immediate to you. Or climb the kitchen counter if you must. Remember that it is essential to have your feet off the ground in the moments following this sighting. Levitate, if you must.
Run to your bedroom as soon as the rat is out of sight. Lock the door as a precaution — this crafty rat may be skilled in opening doors. Cover all grounds, literally. Blockade all gaps between doors and floor with laundry that you have been putting off for weeks.
Call your landlord. He will tell you that he will drop by two days away from this date with bait and traps. Luckily, you will have lost your sanity by then.
Text the first eight people you can think of off the top of your head. You do this because you are petrified and also due to the hilarity of having been defeated by a rat. Text this, “I have been defatted by a rat,” for pathos. It is important to text exactly eight people. Three will be terrified for you, and this is comforting. In ridding of the rat, these people will be utterly useless. Three will find this utterly hilarious, which is good, because you must find humor in such situations. In ridding of the rat, these people will also be utterly useless. Of the eight, one will be a seasoned New Yorker who has traded in rats for the green pastures of the West Coast. This person will stand on neutral ground, moving between offering comic relief, feeling terror on your behalf and dispensing advice on how exactly to overcome this rat. But, of utmost importance will be the one who comes to rescue you.
You will have been trapped in your bedroom for two hours now.
You will need to pee. Consider peeing on the fire escape or in the wastepaper basket, a clear glass or a half-full coffee mug. If you do not own a wastepaper basket, purchase one now.
You will be advised not to name the rat. This is good advice. You will be told that this will be a good thing to write about. This is a good opinion.
But also, pack your post-apocalyptic emergency backpack. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, face wipes, moisturizer and mini Altoids are essential components of this.
Have this backpack with you as you sit atop your bed, waiting to be rescued.
The only problem is, when the white knight arrives, you will have to leave your room in order to open the door. Unless he has a cannon. This is when a cannon will be useful.
Get out on to the fire escape. Climb up the side of the building to the roof, run down the stairs. Don’t forget your backpack.
Alternate between groaning and shrieking as you go up the stairs. Maintain a distance of twenty-feet as this true hero enters your apartment.
Ah hah! He has made quite a home for himself traversing up and down the hole under the bathroom sink. The rat, not the hero.
Allow for your roommate’s back-issues of Vogue to serve as temporary steel wool, a fortress. This is the time you decide that you need to subscribe to the New York Times — to stuff rat holes with.
The ordeal is over for now. The magazines will suffice till Thursday, when your landlord comes over. The rat will not be able to squeeze past the fortress of glossies, graced will Jennifer Lawrence’s bosom. Thanks, JLaw.
There is no way in hell you’re staying in your apartment. This is a big city rat. He will possibly know how to unscrew your doorknob in order to enter your bedroom. “No catch and release traps those are bullshit this is war,” texts the seasoned New Yorker. This is war, and for now, you are waving the white flag until the exterminator arrives, guns blazing. Don’t forget your backpack. Hasten out of the apartment only for dramatic effect.
Return the next day when you have rationalized that your fears are irrational.
Sit down at your desk to work, cup of coffee in hand and nerves soothed. Marvel at just how silly you behaved the day before. Begin working, but stop at the sound of a distinct buzzing. It is a monstrously-sized wasp, hovering over a copy of Joan Didion’s Democracy. Here there has been established a tyranny of pests.
Run out as fast as possible, or faster. Don’t forget your backpack. You are paying rent for the leisure of pests.
Welcome to the big city, the city of your dreams. The pests can’t wait to meet you.