By David Mohimani –
When AP psych teacher Maria Vita told us about the rat project, everybody was excited. That is, everybody but me.
Although I have never seen the Michael Jackson movie “Ben” or any other rat drama, it seemed that handling rats could soon become my worst fear.
And then they arrived as promised. Scores of rats with their ratty smell as they went lurking around and over each other in a vast lump of ratdom. They were separated into individual cages waiting for their new owners.
I peered through the wire cage at one of them and I must say that I was less than thrilled. Staring back through the cage were two beady little black eyes of a rat.
The idea of playing with a filthy little rat is not enticing. I mean who wants to spend an entire class period trying to train an animal whose brain is the size of pea? I looked around at my classmates who were excitedly bonding with their rats. So apparently everybody wants to train a rat but me.
Miss Vita did not help soothe my anxiety by letting us know there is a chance that the rats may nibble on a little more than cheerios.
Our group was one of the first to select a rat, we got a baby boy named Dexter. I had to admit he was kinda cute except for the fact that its testicles were about half the size of his body.
Apparently they have large testicles due to some sort of sexual competition between males, to see who can produce the most sperm so they have a higher chance of impregnating a female rat.
How was I ever supposed to train a rat for a psychology experiment when the rat was busy training for the sperm Olympics.
At first I was hesitant to even touch the rat, let alone hold him. My partner on the other hand took a shine to Dexter immediately which was fine by me. He could train the rat. I would watch – from a distance.
Then Miss Vita dropped the bomb on me. Both partners would have to get the rat to complete the trick to get credit.
Great. Just Great.
There was no avoiding it now, I was going to have to interact with this rat.
I scooped the little critter off the desk, he kicked and clawed trying to get me to relinquish my grip, I didn’t budge. I would show this rat right away who was boss. As I placed him on my arm, I began to feel his small claws scale across my skin. In a jolt he scurried up my arm and I held my breath with nervous anxiety. Dexter perched himself on my shoulder turning his tail toward me. I could not see him in my peripheral, in fact all I could see were two giant floating orbs. I swallowed hard.
Dexter then worked his way back down to his to my coat pocket and burrowed himself inside it.
I expected him to dart out of my pocket, but to my utter surprise he was calm.
He poked his little head out as if he was inviting me to pet him so I obliged.
Those same beady black eyes that had pierced my iris less than an hour before were now looking back at me, no longer did they appear menacing, but now they looked reassuring and kind.
I smiled and though to myself maybe this won’t be so bad after all. Olympics here we come.