My lovely wife distrusts our hedge. It is monstrous, towering over the fence, and hiding God-only-knows-what within its dark recesses. Unless it is regularly kept in check, it will completely dominate the back side of the pool walkway, rendering foot traffic impossible. Trimming is critical, for unless it is regularly trimmed, then it must be pruned. And pruning the monster requires the use of power tools while perched on a ladder which teeters inches away from a swimming pool. But my lovely wife was having trouble psyching herself up to trim the hedge, because she has a very specific phobia.
In her heart of hearts she KNOWS that that if she trims it, there’s a good chance that rats will jump out. What the rats would do next is unimportant and probably never even considered. The very idea of a jumping rat is enough to cause her to go into a Fukashima-style meltdown.
At this point in the story, I think it’s important to note two things. 1) I’ve lived here 14 years and have never seen a rat jump out of the hedge, even while trimming it. 2) I’m not trimming the hedge because experience has taught me not to “help” with the landscaping any more. I’ve been married over twenty years, not by virtue of my charming personality, fat wallet or Adonis-like physique. I’ve managed to stay married by knowing when to shut up and walk away.
But the hedge needed trimming. Maybe even pruning. It was starting to overhang the pool in places. And my lovely wife stood there chewing her lip, staring at the hedge nervously, and talking to me about how it needed to get done. I mentioned that I had considered involving the kids in a massive hedge-trimming yard-clean up Mother’s Day gift. I was given a look like I had just volunteered to re-organize her purse. Fine. I tried. No, the hedge needed to be trimmed, hypothetical jumping rats be damned.
And then the screaming started.
A rat the size of an obese Chihuahua scrambled to the end of the uppermost branches of the hedge, and launched itself into the pool. It was a good eight-foot drop into the water and it hit like a brick.
And suddenly I had a job.
For the next ten minutes or so I chased the rat around the pool with a net, intent on drowning it. Fun fact: Rats are excellent swimmers. They swim with a speed and agility one normally associates with river otters; equally adept at swimming on the surface, and at depths of several feet. They are such excellent swimmers that they move faster than I can maneuver a net through four-feet of water. My lovely wife watched the Benny Hill-like antics through several different windows, too nervous to stay at any one window for long. It was all simply too horrible for her to contemplate. I eventually caught the furry little Michael Phelps, pushing the net up against the wall of the pool and praying that the rat didn’t figure out that he could chew through the net before he drowned. I only have one net. If he chewed a hole in it, things would have turned ugly fast. Plan B involved swing a garden hoe at him, or possibly the use of firearms.
My lovely wife is a brilliant, capable woman. She works with industrial forces that could level a building. She deals with acids and steel and extreme temperatures. But she does not deal with flying rats. No. Fucking. Way. So if you know somebody who does a good job pruning hedges, please let me know.