I smell a dirty rat and he answers to “Hubby”
“Look Mummy,” the kids shriek excitedly, yanking me towards a surprise waiting on the coffee table. It’s big, square and covered in a blanket. My first thought is, it’s a budgie. My second is, there’s no such thing as a no-fault divorce.
My husband’s been campaigning for years for a second pet “for the kids”. I’ve vetoed the rabbit (“I’ll stew it”), the Mexican walking fish (“Will you get a mullet, too?”) and the budgie (“I’m sure your next wife will love one”).
I stumble through the door after three weeks away, and what’s he bought? A rat. Yep, vermin. Except this precious rodent cost $25, with $80 chucked in for the Hilton of cages, complete with a shelter, a mirror and a wheel he’s evidently too thick to use. (Of course it’s a he – they chose the one with the biggest balls on the grounds that females are “hormonal and bitey”.) Did I mention the cage is maroon? A colour I hate possibly even more than rats.
“The kids were missing you terribly,” says the husband.
Fabulous. In lieu of me (kind, smiley, good at cuddles), they get a rat (smelly, useless, good at pooing). “Which part of ‘I’ll move out if we get another pet’ didn’t you understand?” I mutter irritably.
While they show me what tricks he can do (none), how cute he is (not) and how small his droppings are (get him off my new rug), I furtively Google “life expectancy of a rat”. Three years. Three years! I also bookmark a pest exterminator.
The next day, a friend drops by for a glass of wine. Her children cluster around the creature (he does have a name, but to share it with you would suggest I care).
“You’re kidding,” she says, when I point out the husband neglected to consult me. She’s an interior stylist, so is equally offended by the maroon. “You could spray paint it yellow,” she says. Mmm. And perhaps I could order a miniature Marimekko rug and a Villeroy & Boch food bowl. “Don’t worry,” I say. “He won’t be staying.”
Normally, this sort of dictatorial decision-making really gets my goat (wouldn’t mind one of those – preferably a pashmina). Chez Mollard has always operated as a democracy. Ergo, we discuss the big stuff. But, as in the ALP, it seems we’ve developed factional divisions and they’ve driven a carthorse (definitely not) through my One-Pet Policy. I tell the family that, in China, they’d be heavily fined. Or forced to eat the rat.
“You weren’t here to consult and it was the last one in the shop,” argues the husband.
“If we’d gone a day earlier, we could’ve bought two,” pipes up the youngest, as she cradles Stuart-bloody-Little in the pocket of her hoodie. “They could’ve made babies.”
Only the cat is on my side, but he’s not exactly a member of feline Mensa. He sits on top of the cage, seemingly lobotomised.
For a week, I steel for a fight. “Is he still there?” enquires my friend the next Friday.
“Who – husband or rat?”
The truth is, I won’t pick an argument. If I want to be part of a family that supports my dreams, sometimes I need to indulge theirs. Communication, collaboration, consultation – it’s all very laudable, but every now and then, you just want what you want.
I still loathe the rat. A little less now he’s been shampooed. And, since I know you want to know, his name is Wilbur.
Catch Angela Mollard every Sunday at 8.45am on Weekend Today, on the Nine Network. Email firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her at www.twitter.com/angelamollard.
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…