A Girl's Guide to Buying A Rat
reprinted from the September 2003 issue of Cannibal Blonde!
Let's face it, girls. America has a bad, bad fever--rat fever, to be precise. And who can blame us? Rats are tricky, omnipresent, covered in hair, and absolutely filthy-dirty--exactly like a Cannibal Blonde girl! But before you rush out that door to snap up a rat of your very own, consider this: Rats can be big fun, but they can
also be big trouble. To protect yourself from getting burned by this red-hot
rodent, put up your pretty feet and take ask yourself these essential
What am I going to do with this rat?
Many people run out and buy the first rat they see, regardless of the rat's
form or function, simply because they're terrified of being the last girl on
their block without a rat of her own. Faced with a rat that meets none of their
rat needs, however, these ladies often end up regretting their hasty behavior.
Occasionally, these impulse purchases end in tragedy: rodenticide-related
arrests have risen sharply in the last month, and some women have been
institutionalized due to rat-related nervous breakdowns.
To keep yourself out of the jailhouse and the funny farm, repeat this mantra to
yourself as you enter your rat retailer's: "From each rat according to its
ability; to each rat consumer according to her need." That means that the
things you need your rat to do has to determine the kind of rat you buy. If
you're buying your rat for fashion purposes, for example, look for a well-fed,
sluggish model with a glossy coat and an expressive tail (preferably one that
matches your complexion.) A ship's rat should have heightened sensory
awareness, comically curly whiskers, and a wide range of salty vocabulary. If
you're testing makeup on your rat, it should have stiff, slow-growing hair (for
easy shaving) and flesh with a similar chemical makeup for your own. Rats
designated to serve as familiars, or to lead armies of vengeful rodents against
your surface-dwelling enemies and oppressors, should have excellent
interpersonal and organizational skills, as well as lots of empathy.
Keep in mind, too, that your rat needs may change over the years. One of my
close friends, the Ignominious Redhead, once used rats as extras in
performance-art pieces and for the occasional snack. When she became pregnant,
however, she found that the frisky, tender young rats that had served her so
well in her twenties just weren't cutting it in her new lifestyle--to help her
practice her baby-suckling skills, the IR needed older, toothless rats that
weighed as much as a human baby. "The transition was fucking tough," she says,
"but I'm richer for having gone through it, and now I can welcome both kinds of
rats into my new life."
What size and model of rat can my budget support?
Leafing through this month's issue of Vogue or In Style, with their lush, glossy photo spreads of half-naked supermodels with three-foot rats slung across their enviable figures, seven-figure-salary-starlets lunching at the latest trendy resto on rat-and-papaya-napoleon with a sage/ratblood coulis, and well-coiffed political wives treading the campaign trail in rat-hide pumps, you might get the impression that rats are only for the rich. Au contraire, ma soeur! Rat prices range from the ridiculously cher ($50,000,000 for a gold-plated model custom-designed to meet your genetic specifications) to the sublimely cheap (a nominal fee of $5.50 to register the rat you found in the subway at your local rat-adoption office.) With that many choices, you're sure to find something to fit your budget!
Even if you do have rat-money to burn, keep in mind that--with the exception of the priciest genetically-engineered rats that can convert to coffee tables or pizza-eating karate masters with just one Pavlovian command-- there's not often a huge difference in quality between a designer rat and a standard pet-store model. Sure, the free ones from the subway or the dumpster tend to be ornery and often carry serious diseases (see below) but some people consider these drawbacks to be virtues in disguise! A real "street rat" has "street cred" that no money can buy (see Disney's Aladdin), and many of the finest leaders of rat armies of vengeance have ridden from the stagnant pools that support communities of common cellar-rats (see Willard.) If you want a cleaner, gentler rat, though, there's no shame in buying an inexpensive, vaccinated white rat at the pet store. Basically, all you're getting from your name-brand rat is just that: the name, and the prestige that goes with it.
Another important thing to consider is ancillary costs--in addition to the purchasing price for the actual rat, what else are you going to have to pay for to get your rat up and running? Veterinarian fees, plus the cost of setting up a rat environment in your home and a rat transportation system on your person, can add up to a pretty penny. And of course there's the day-to-day maintenance of your rat. What kind of cleansing products will you need? High-end rat shampoos can cost up to $40/bottle, and if you want your rat feeling silky-smooth (for certain kinds of fashion rats and sex rats, smoothness is a must!) you'll find yourself shelling out the big bucks. How do you plan to feed your rat? Many rats, including Willard-style vengeance rats, will find ample sustenance in the cracks and crannies of your apartment or cellar (in the form of spiders, insects, and the flesh of your surface-dwelling oppressors.) Aging or finicky rats with require supplements of cheeses, and much-cherished familiars and villain's-pet rats often demand that fresh gobbets of meat be fed to them from a silken pouch every thirteen minutes. Anthropomorphic water-rats require excellent country-style grub and adequate supplies of high-quality pipe tobacco. If you're shelling out that kind of dough just to maintain your rat, you won't want the added burden of making monthly payments to some financing plan you elected to help you pay for an overly-expensive rodent.
Luckily, some rats--like eating rats--have very few associated costs. A rat you've bought for dinner will cost you very little beyond its baseline price--at the very most, an extra $2.50 for a jar of Miracle Whip.
Find out more on page 2!