Tuesday, May 31, 2022

SOLTuesday: Rats!

There were rats, rats, rats as big as cats,
In the store, in the store.
There were rats, rats, rats as big as cats,
In the Quartermaster's store.


Maybe I first heard this song on a Burl Ives album, or from Pete Seeger. Wikipedia says it’s an old folk song, dating at least to World War I, or even older, perhaps to the English Civil War of the 17th century. I thought of it this morning.

            I grew up mostly in the country and suburbs, so I never saw a rat until I was living in a city, in Washington, D.C. I was walking home from work and happened to glance to my left, where an alley opened to the street. There was a creature, not as big as a cat, but big, just sitting there, staring out, its eyes red in the twilight. I scurried past it quickly.

            Moving to New York City, the occasional rat has run past me away from the trash bags waiting for the Department of Sanitation. Last year, one was rummaging through a trash basket at the end of my street, and I tried to call the city help line to report it. Perhaps I was successful,
because I haven’t seen any near that trash basket since.

            Then, this morning, out for a walk along Riverside Drive before it got hot, I saw this creature. Obviously dead, dried blood streaking the pavement. What had happened to it? Was it poisoned? Or had some larger creature attacked it? I wasn’t sure which was more unnerving, having a rat run past me, or seeing a dead one on the street. I thought about Albert Camus’s The Plague.


It’s Slice of Life Tuesday over at Two Writing Teachers. Check out this encouraging and enthusiastic writing community and their slices of life every Tuesday. And add one of your own.




  1. I really, really, really dislike rats! They totally scare me, a fear I completely inherited (learned?) from my mother. They just seem so dirty. I hope you don't see another for a long, long time!

  2. Never heard the song, but I can imagine a bunch of rowdy soldiers singing it. Very unnerving creature to encounter!

  3. A song, a rat, a slice - who would have thought these three go together. Wishing you a rat free time for the future.

  4. I was walking past garbage bags piled high with two IAW&A board members after a meeting. Several rats ran around the bags, I jumped to avoid them but the two women I was with started screaming, literally, and then continued to over-react, I thought. Later, when I thought about it, I realized they were not native Yorkers. We’ve learned to live with rats.