Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rats, with their little Nike Shoes...

This is a favorite of the snopesters. I've told this one many a time. Granted, I've tried to shorten it on message boards, to keep the length down because I'm a member on those boards and don't want to make more work for the moderators (being a mod and admin on other boards myself). I've also realized some people don't like reading long posts. At any rate, even shortened, this story is a long one. But since this is my blog, I will tell it in as much entirety as I can.

First, I announced today, that I want the kids to help me remember some of the conversations we've had with the DG because they'll have a different memory than I will of certain details. Then I said, "Oh, I have to tell the Rats with the little Nike shoes story."

DG turned to me (he's taking apart the Christmas tree) and said, with much regal air, "Yes! That one must be told! It should be shared, like a bedtime story."

I said, "Really? A bedtime story?"

He replied, "Of course! The little children can say, 'I dreamed about them, the rats in their little Nike shoes' and then they can tell the story to others."

The DG is disabled from his time in the Army, specifically his time in the first Gulf War. So he's a patient at the Veteran's Administration hospital in Madison, WI (because we live in Wisconsin). The VA hospital is not known for speedy waiting room times. We were up there for a disability reassessment because the VA gave him a treatment that didn't work (I knew it wouldn't, and I protested greatly). Not only did it not work, it made his arm worse. (It was supposed to loosen the muscles- some jerk told him "it will get your arm back" and he believed him and no matter how much proof I showed that it wouldn't work, I was ignored). At any rate, we were in the waiting room and I was reading Bill Bryson's book about Shakespeare. We were sitting side-by-side and not once did he look over at me. I only glanced at him every once in a while during this conversation. I even held my book as if I were trying to read it, but obviously, I wasn't. I didn't read much more that day, in fact.

There were several people all around. I read a part of the book out loud to Jerry because I found it interesting. It was basically saying that during Shakespeare's time, the Black Plague would resurface every ten years or so and during that time, the royal family would go to their "country estate" to get away from the danger. (This was during the time when London was still mostly surrounded by a wall). The "country estate" they escaped to was about ten miles from the city. Nowadays, that's just ridiculous. Ten miles? Really!

I said, "I guess ten miles is too far for a plague-infested rat to travel."

DG replied, "Of course it is, they're rats. They can't walk that far."

Me: "And they're sick, you know, with the Plague and the fleas that carry it."

DG: "And the road was hot, and they'd get little bruises and blisters."

Me: "Bruises and blisters?"

DG: "Yeah, they'd get little stone bruises on their feet. Blisters too. And then they'd fall over on the side of the road and die... their little stone bruised feet all swolled up. It was sad."

Me: "Really? These rats would get stone bruises on their feet and die?"

DG: "Blisters too." There he paused. I noticed that other people were listening. Some were smiling and even chuckling. Others were holding it in, but they all seemed to be enjoying it. "And they would fall down. Their friends couldn't help them, they're rats too."

Me: "Of course not, rats don't have first aid kits or first aid training."

DG: "Or course they don't! They're rats! Don't be ridiculous."

I'm not supposed to be ridiculous? I was also trying not to laugh and I was egging him on by asking him questions about the rats.

Me: "So, you're saying these rats would just drop dead on this dirt road between London and the royals' country estate?"

DG: "Yes, it was called the Road of Death and those poor little rats had no one to help them. You know what they needed?"

Me: "Help?"

DG: "Well, of course they needed help, but they really needed little Nike shoes."

Me: "Really? Nike shoes?"

DG: "Little Nike shoes. And they're rats, so they needed two pairs of little Nike shoes."

Me: "How can a rat afford a single pair of Nike shoes much less two pairs?"

DG: "Little Nike shoes. They didn't afford them, that's why they died."

Me: "They died from stone bruises and blisters on their feet?"

DG: "No, don't be ridiculous, they fell down from the stone bruises and blisters. They died from dehydration and starvation."

Me: "Because they couldn't walk after they fell down?"

DG: "No, of course not, that's why it was the Road of Death. And their little rat friends couldn't bring them water or food, they're rats. They don't carry canteens."

Me: "So if they had little Nike shoes, these rats would have spread the Plague further?"

DG: "Yeah, but its a tragic tale. Sad, really, all those rats dying on that road. And when they'd lay there dying, they'd sneeze because of the dust. Humans didn't care, they'd walk by and not even pay attention to a bruised and blistered rat on the side of the road. Sometimes they'd even kick dirt at them."

Me: "And they'd sneeze?"

DG: "You know it." He sighed around this time and stopped talking. I started reading my book again and then he said: "They teach it, you know."

Me: "Teach what?"

DG: "The story of the rats. They teach it."

Me: "Where do they teach it?"

DG: "In history class. Rat history class."

Me: "So they teach it in rat history class so no other rat children grow up to get stone bruises?"

DG: "No, they're all wearing little Nike shoes now."

Me: "Doesn't it make it hard for them to write?"

DG: *confused look* "Write what?"

Me: "In class. Don't they have to take notes in class?"

DG: "Don't be ridiculous, they're rats, they can't write. They memorize it."

Me: "Rats, wearing little Nike shoes to protect against stone bruises and blisters on their feet, memorize the tragic tale of the Road of Death during Shakespeare's time?"

DG: "Yup..."

Shortly thereafter, we were called into the appointment. I can only hope that the people who heard the story in the waiting room of the William S. Middleton Memorial Veteran's Hospital in Madison, Wisconsin are sharing this story with their grandchildren.

Because- Knowledge is power and someone has to think of the poor stone-bruised and blistered rats.

**Edited to add**

I read this out loud to DG. He chuckled, laughed, denied saying some of the things- but of course, we know he did. Then he said, "Hey! I wonder if Jason's rats are related to them." (our almost-18 year old son has two pet rats) "We should go ask them if they know the story."


joy said...

Why don't you just sneak in to his room in the middle of the night and see if they are wearing tiny little Nikes? For some reason I picture these tiny little Nikes to be red. lol -- I'm sorry, but I just couldn't resist!!!

Patty O'Chair said...

I was complaining that my shoulder hurt today.

He said, "If the rats can live with it, so can you."

Me: "The rats didn't have shoulder pain."

him: "No, they had paw-pain!"

Me: "I have paw-pain too!"

him: "They lived with it!"

Me: "No, they didn't, they DIED from it."

him: "Shhhh! You're gonna get us in trouble."

me: "Who with?"

him *looking around*: "The rat unions."

Yup... apparently, there's a rat union out there who is trying to stifle the education about the rats and the little Nike shoes.

lisa schamess said...

i'm just...i'm money-minded, so i cannot stop wondering whether the Terminix ad that popped up with this post has seen any click-throughs.

also whether ghetto rats get mugged routinely for their Nikes.

Brooke said...

This is great. I found your blog through regretsy and immeadiatly sent the link to my cousin who suffers a similar communication disorder and other head/back trama from Iraq a couple years ago. He loves it.

Thanks for posting.

Pahz said...

Brooke, thanks for passing it on.

Is your cousin getting the help he needs from the VA? The first Gulf War was a wild drug test and this current war is like a never-ending experiment in trauma.

Mugsy Doodle said...

I haven't been keeping up with the site, but a link at Regretsy ( about miniature horses wearing little Nike sneakers) brought me back. Now I'm picturing rats with little Nike sneakers, race-walking along the road!

Jerry, did you ever explain how the rats tied their little Nike sneakers? They can do their back legs, sure, but who does their front legs? I wonder if a weak, sickly rat is chosen to (a) tie all the little Nike sneakers on his ratty brethren and (b) stay behind because there's no one to tie his little Nike sneakers. Probably a union job. Sometimes it doesn't help to have an uncle get you a job, especially when he says that "you're set for life---they can't fire you!"...because you won't survive long enough. Sad little rat. Probably wore flip-flips around the city after his little brothers and sisters have scooted off to the country to infect the royals.

I'm sure songs would have been song about his noble deeds, except rats can't write music. Or carry a tune.

Pahz said...

I don't remember which post it is in, but he did explain that the rats walk on two legs when they're wearing sneakers, even though there was also a discussion of buying two pairs of shoes per rat.

Anonymous said...

i love you guys so hard i pulled a muscle in my considerable chest. now my boobs appear even bigger than they already are. thanks for that.