OK. Now, if you know me (though you probably don’t since this is only my second post), you may know I absolutely love rats. I have two pet rats who were rescued from a shelter, Vi (Violet Caterwaul. Not my idea, blame it on my sister. But still, I do think it’s cute. Oh, and ‘caterwaul’ just as a cutsey name, not like the real definition) and PJ (Pepper Junior, named after one of my first rats, Pepper. PJ looks and acts surprisingly like Pepper did!).
Upper left: Violet in some wrapping paper. Unfortunately I don’t have a good picture of her face, so this is the best I’ve got.
Lower left: PJ steals some trail mix and enjoys herself
But more about that another time, right now I want to bring to your attention the violent quips we make at rats in our everyday speech. We unfortunately do this to other animals in our speech, Look at the ‘compassionate cliches’ podcast at Compassionate Cooks. (A podcast is like a pre-produced radio show. Sorta.) ANYWHO: I knew a few, but did a google search and marveled at, OK well about 20 rat phrases, but still, some weren’t so flattering. And I really don’t think we need to add to the bad picture humans have made for the sensitive, intelligent, social, and totally wonderful creatures. I want to identify some of these harsh comments and offer alternatives for them.
Rat’s!– OK, now I am going to take some of my words from the website I found (ratswhiskers.tripod.com/bioratphrases.html) cause it words this nicely. SO, Rat’s!– an exclamation of dismay. Why would we be dismayed, and hence cry “Rat’s” when we really should be saying “Rat’s!” in a happy, joyful voice. Rat’s, in my opinion, don’t symbolize sadness and misfortune. So, might we instead say “Shoot!” or “Dang!” or “OMG!” or SOMETHING. Jeez, for all I care, display your talent for colorful swearing, but let’s not take our dismay out on rats.
ratted out– as in: “Ratted on his best friend to the police.” Or some variation on this. Basically meaning: “they told on us!” Like I said before, rat’s shouldn’t symbolize misfortune, and they also shouldn’t symbolize betrayal. So might we instead say something like….”They told on us!” “They tattle-taled!” or if your feeling dramatic- “They betrayed us!”
Rat faced– to have a face with a rat like appearance. Pointy nose, black looking eyes, prominent front teeth, and maybe some whiskers. I guess I don’t really have a problem with that. Admittedly, rat’s features wouldn’t be too attractive on a human, but on a rat, it’s flippin’ adorable. So we’ll that phrase stay.
To smell a rat– from the website again: “to suspect the involvement of a traitor in your midst.” Honestly, rats DO NOT have that bad of a smell, and their cage won’t even smell that bad if you use a type of grass hay. We just discovered this method and are loving it. You smell the lovely odor of hay until you next clean the cage. Yippee! Oh, right, rat friendly phrases. So, say- “I suspect a traitor” OH OH OH! I have one: “I smell a traitor.” A human one, obviously, ’cause, you know, humans can stink and all.
ratty– to look all torn up and shabby. Rats have very good hygiene, and groom themselves until they look B-E-A-utiful! So we could look:”Shabby” or “grubby” or “dirty.” You get my gist.
Pack rat– It’s SOOOOOO CUTE when a rat drags food or an object into hiding, and hoards it in their cage. So I don’t have a problem with this phrase, because this doesn’t give a false impression of rats.
To look like a drowned rat– What I want to know is WHY was the rat drowned in the first place? Yeah, yeah he could have fallen into a lake but, I’m suspicious. And I don’t want to walk around making references to the dead. So. To still say we have a roughed up appearance, we can say…. “you look like you’ve been dragged up mt. Everest and back” Or even “you look like a drowned human!”
OK, that’s all for now. I know their are even more, like: Mall rat, gutter rat, rat tail, rat’s nest, rat’s arse, rat fink, rat trap, rat tail comb, rat pack, rat king. But, more of that another time.