The “Crazy as a Shithouse Rat” Files

 

How can you say no to a request like that?  I, for one, will be absolutely sure to keep my munchables good and far away from the toilet brush holder.

My grandfather (my Dad’s Dad) was one of the most taciturn individuals I’ve ever known- I think he could go days with little more than a grunt or a “yep” or “nope” when asked a direct question.  He could read Louis L’Amour or Zane Grey and watch Westerns for days on end without saying a word to anyone unless he was asked a question.  Grandpa didn’t usually talk unless there was something worth talking about. 

There were certain people in the public eye who he would comment on, and when he did, the tirades were priceless.  For some reason he didn’t much like Jimmy Carter. When President Carter was in the news, Grandpa would go on and on as to why Jimmy should have stayed down in Georgia picking peanuts.  Nor did he like Ted Kennedy, or for that matter, the whole Kennedy family, who he saw as being “Nazi-loving tomcats.”  I always wondered about that statement as a child, but in light of evidence suggesting Joe Kennedy’s pre -WWII support of Hitler and Nazism when he was Ambassador to England, I believe Grandpa actually did know what he was talking about regarding the Kennedys.  Grandpa didn’t care a whole lot for Reagan at first, either (I’ll forgive him for that) as he wasn’t much of a fan of his acting, and Grandpa thought him too old to be President,  but he did gain a lot of respect for Reagan after the assassination attempt. 

But when Grandpa had a really low opinion of someone, he would consider them “crazy as a shithouse rat.”  I have been known to use that simile myself in regard to certain people, but coming from Grandpa the phrase had a deeper dimension to it.  Until the early 1960’s they did not have an indoor toilet.  He used an outhouse for many years and probably encountered real live shithouse rats.  I remember an incident from when I was maybe five or six years old that helped illustrate the point. 

Back in the 1970’s there was still an open sewer that ran parallel to the railroad tracks that were not even a block away from my grandparents’ house.   We didn’t really understand what it was, we just called it the QuQua ditch, and we knew that the water in it was really dirty. It was OK to float paper boats in it- if you could stand the smell- but you dared not wade in it or even touch the water.  It was several years before I learned why this was so imperative.

An absolutely huge rat – and this is no exaggeration, it was the size of a small dog- came up from the sewer grate in the street (not far from the open ditch, as the storm sewers ran directly into the QuQua, along with lots of other unspeakable things) and was leisurely strolling about in broad daylight when we kids were playing outside.  I was completely freaked by this and ran back, screaming, into my grandparents’ house.  Grandpa looked out the window, saw the rat and got a shovel from the garage.  As the rat sauntered ever closer to the yards and the sidewalk, Grandpa ran up behind it and bashed its brains out with the shovel.  He scooped up the dead rat with the shovel and dumped it in the trash.  All he said about it was that we kids should never get near any rats or possums that come up from the sewer in the daytime because they have rabies and if they bite you’ll get the rabies. 

Nobody wanted to get the rabies, believe that.  We didn’t understand what rabies is, but we didn’t want to get it either.

That was probably the closest I ever got to a literal shithouse rat.

I have had pet rats- they are smarter than gerbils or hamsters- but they still have the common rodent problem of no bowel or bladder control.  Somehow a pet loses some of its charm when it is constantly going to the bathroom on you.  Our snakes eat rats (I have a ball python and Jerry has a red-tailed boa) which is sort of difficult because the snakes like their food live.  I know, it’s weird to have snakes, but Jerry likes them, and even I have to admit they are cool to watch.

Which brings me to today’s example of “crazy as a shithouse rat.”  Sadly, he’s from Ohio, albeit the northeast corner of Ohio where the lunatic fringe tends to congregate.   Dennis Kucinich is in the news again- for suing the government over an olive pit.  And I thought Obama’s priorities were screwed.  Compared to Kucinich, Obama almost looks reasonable and sane.

Why, oh, why, don’t the voters send their space cadet of a Representative back to the mistake on the lake where he belongs?

And speaking of being a space cadet, Kucinich claims that he saw a UFO while hanging out at Shirley MacLaine’s.  And I’m the Queen of England.

It may be unfair to the rats to compare them to Kucinich- he’s truly a nut job.  However, infamy is still a form of fame.

Beam me up!

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