(props to anyone who knows what the title of this post is referencing)
“This is Sinclair. He is the ugliest thing I’ve ever fallen in love with.” — I wrote on January 23rd, 2015, on my way home with a cardboard box fidgeting on my lap, a tiny nose now and then peeking out to sneeze at the situation. It’s weird to think that, come tomorrow, he’ll have only been home with me for three weeks. Hopefully, he’ll have many more years to come.
I won’t lie; a part of Sinclair’s charm is that he was an impulse adoption. I had been left to wander on my own for about a half hour, which you would think, “How much trouble can a 25 year old with about $80 in her pocket really get into?” Well. I practically bee-lined my way to the pet store to see if there were any puppies there to cuddle with for a while, or maybe a ferret or two. There were not, but I had time to kill, and I can spend a lot of time just looking at all the little creatures. I don’t care much for rabbits, or hamsters. I’ll side-eye the lizards and snakes, and I’ll gather up all my courage to glance at the scorpions and tarantulas and toads (ugh, I hate toads!). I do absolutely adore hedgehogs (and even had one, the infamous Sancho Panza, a grumpy little thing that I had to rehome because I didn’t have the time or means to look after him anymore). But, to cut things short, I spent the most of my time looking at the rats.
Now, previously, I hated the things. Beady-eyed, long-toothed, sharp-clawed, with those long, creepy tails! Ugh! I thought they were the worst. And then I visited my mom for a weekend, and she had recently adopted one, named Lady (or, as I liked to call her, Fiddy-Fiddy, because she was hooded). My first night, I barely got any sleep, having been stuck in the same room as her in her little cage that I was absolutely certain she would sneak her way out of and bite me to death. I wanted nothing to do with her. I had hamsters as a child, and the novelty of small fuzzy creatures is entirely lost on you when you get bitten every time you try to touch them. I thought the same about Lady. Until my brother took her out of her cage, and dropped her right into my lap.
Love. Absolute awe.
After Lady, there came Dash(board) and Little One, who are still kicking around. They’re downstairs together as I type this, my mom’s girls and sweet things. Dashboard got her name thusly from getting out of the box the day we picked her up, and hiding in the dashboard of my mom’s truck for the entire drive back to the house. We’re lucky she made it. And I was happy to move back home and be around the two of them more often, as well as my puppy Lexi, of course (she’ll get her own post one day). Still, I really wanted a pet of my own, I was just waiting for the right time... or so I thought.
Back at the pet shop, I crouched down to get a look at the rats they had. A pile of fuzzy hooded males, maybe half the size of my fist each, all cuddled up together to keep warm while they napped. Okay, cute— but! Wait! What is that thing!? That mass of wrinkles back there, sitting on top of three little rats?! I need to see this thing!! OH GODS IT MOVED. As soon as I saw him, twice the size as any of the others, and the only one of his breed in the whole store, I fell in love. It was instantaneous. He was hideous and all I wanted to do was hold him! It took me ten seconds to make up my mind, just as long as it took for the girl working there to make her way to the back of the store. “That ugly little guy, I need to take him home now!”
He peed on me. I had him on my shoulder for less than three seconds, and he drenched me. And still, I loved him and needed to call him my own. So, alone and determined, though unsure what the reaction would be, I called my mom. In fact, I woke her up from a nap, and while she was still groggy, I simply asked her, “Can I buy a rat?” and she gave me her blessing, and probably went back to sleep.
Sinclair is a hairless rat. He’s now seven months old (roughly 18 in human years), and right now, he’s curled up in a navy blue leg warmer sleeping, because I rudely woke him up this morning while changing his water. He already answers to his name (which was inspired by a character from the video game Bioshock 2), and he loves yogurt drops and banana chips. Arguably, he’s softer than regular rats, his skin almost has a velvet-like feel to it, and this spoiled little brat gets a massage once a week with extra-virgin olive oil to keep his skin from drying out or getting scratched up.
Even when he wakes me up in the middle of the night chewing away at his food or licking at his water bottle, all I can do is smile at him. When he sneezes (he has allergies, something common with hairless rats, and something I’m keeping a very close watch on), I sneeze back. He runs around on my bed (with a towel, because he’s yet to learn there is a time and place to poop and my bed is not it), and I tickle his back and scritch above his nose, his favourite spot. I never, never, would have figured myself a ‘rat person’ but here I am, with the ugliest little sweetheart ever. Here’s to many years of us keeping each other company.