You know what would suck about being a rat? People invoking your name as a curse, like you’re so gross, so manky, your mere mention curls lips. Aw, rats. Dadrattit. Fuckin’ limp rat-fuck bastard; crazy as a shithouse rat. Not much nice in there.
You know what else would suck about being a rat?
I wonder if other animals have the capacity for contempt. Not dislike, not disinterest, but genuine contempt. Like, if you’ve angered a crow—and you can. They remember when you cross them. They scold you and peck you and divebomb your head, and it can go on for years, through multiple generations. So, if you’ve angered that crow, and one day it sees you trip, does it take pleasure in your pain and humiliation? Does it flap off with a sense of satisfaction, and enjoy the rest of its day just a little bit more? Does it take the story to its friends, and they all have a cackle?
There was this crow at my old place—I fed it for ages, then my landlord banned birdfeeding, and it started shitting on my deckchair. Every morning, it shat. It looked in my window, as though to check I was watching, and it whitewashed my seat. I tried moving the thing, turning it upside-down, even draping a sheet over it. No matter what I did, that crow used it as a toilet. Probably still would, if I hadn’t moved out.
There’ve been times I’ve felt laughed at by birds, mostly crows, but sometimes it’s been gulls. Gulls have a laugh they do. It’s like their alarm call, but sharper. Like they simply can’t help themselves. Maybe it’s not a laugh. There’s the tendency to anthropomorphise. Maybe it’s something else, like they see you come to grief and fear the same for themselves. Or they know you can’t do anything, so they’re calling their friends to share your food.
I did a foolish thing yesterday. I drank a whole thing of orange juice. I always forget just how miserable it makes me. It isn’t just heartburn. It’s nausea and hunger, both at once, and a bitey feel under my ribs. It’s days and days of careful snacking, trying to find something that won’t tie me in knots. Why must I do this to myself? It is that bad! It is! It is!
That reminds me of something I read. This was ages ago, back in high school, and I was obsessed with James Bond. I watched all the movies, read all the books, and in one of them, he said the body has no memory for pain. He described how once it’s over, once you’re back in good health, you can no longer conceive of such misery. I believed it at the time. It sounded, I don’t know. Authoritative. But it’s nonsense. The body absolutely remembers pain, and it shrinks from it. I see a brutal impact on the telly, a car crash, a fist to the guts, my muscles tense and cramp. Even the sound of it’s enough. It used to be just my calf muscles, and the soles of my feet, but now I feel it all over, a full-body shock. It hurts, sometimes badly.
The same goes for orange juice, when I put it in my mouth. My stomach does a cringey thing, like no, y u do this?, and I do a slurpy thing, like stfu foodbag, drink ur oj. (And then I do a regretful thing, like fuck me in the goat ass.)
I’ll never, ever do this again.