I owe my brother, Brett, an apology.
I totally claimed ownership of his pet rat, Lucy, in my book, Summerlandish: Do As I Say, Not As I Did. But once you hear the story of Lucy the rat, you won’t really blame me. She was amazing.
Brett first got Lucy from a friend as a birthday present. She was a beautiful white $5 lab rat. Her red eyes, pale pink tale and adorable moist nose were not creepy at all. I swear.
About a week after Brett became a rat dad, she ate his roommate’s computer cord and became a $75 rat. Aside from that first little hiccup, Lucy settled right into my brother’s Brooklyn apartment. She loved eating his leftover takeout and would have a few licks of his Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Lucy slept in his bed or his sock drawer, but would sometimes wander off for a few days at a time. Not to worry, Lucy loved Brett with all of her little rat heart and would always return looking for tummy kisses.
Brett and Lucy went on lots of adventures. She enjoyed riding in his shirt pocket or sleeve. Sometimes she’d peak her little pink nose out at a bar to the bartender’s dismay. Other times she’d disappear and Brett would see her on a cute girl’s shoulder. (Such a good wing rat.) One New Year’s Eve, Lucy got called up on stage by the band and was serenaded. Everybody really did love Lucy.
When Brett got a job hopping freight trains from New York City to Minnesota, he decided to take Lucy with him. I loved seeing the pictures Brett posted of Lucy travelling America. She was like a modern day Fievel. Once they made it to the Midwest, the pair chose to fly home. Yes, Lucy has been on a plane. She nestled right in Brett’s shirt and security was none the wiser.
It wasn’t long before Lucy became an international star. She was a “Do” in Vice Magazine and also modeled alongside Brett in the English fashion magazine, Huck.
Life as a famous rat was pretty sweet; free beer, good music and lots of adoring fans. But Lucy didn’t lose sight of what’s really important – family. Brett and Lucy went to visit our sister Emily and her family in North Carolina. They set up a bed for her in their bathtub and the kids fed her lasagna. One night, Lucy went missing. Our nephew Woody (who can’t say his R’s) kept asking, “Uncle Bwett, Uncle Bwett – where’s the wat? Where’s the wat?!”
But to be honest, no one knew where Lucy was. At 3am that night, Emily woke up to Lucy’s claws tickling her chest and her tail up her nose. There she was!
After North Carolina, Brett brought Lucy home to meet our mama, Donna in Florida. They instantly fell in love with each other. However, Donna was a bit concerned about Lucy having free roam of the house seeing as we had a cat. Brett assured her that she was fine in a drawer. Ever the nurturing one, Donna immediately got a cage from a friend. (She chose one with small slats because she was worried that another rat might squeeze through and impregnate sweet Lucy and then she’d have a slew of rat babies on her hands.)
Once Lucy was all settled into her new ratopia cage with all of the rat toys any lab rat could wish for, it was time for Brett to go home. But now there was no way that he could take Lucy away from her new comfy safe cage. So he left Lucy with Donna. And that’s how my mom got a rat.
Not long after that, my mom also got me back! I had just finished a ski season in Utah and was home for a bit. Lucy and I bonded immediately. We shared string cheese, watched every Julia Roberts movie ever made and went for walks with her in my sweatshirt pocket. She was everything to me. Granted my life wasn’t as exciting as Brett’s, I still like to think Lucy enjoyed our time together.
Sadly, Lucy’s teeth started getting infected. They were getting ingrown to her gums which is apparently quite common in rats. Donna didn’t really have the extra funds to spare so Brett and I paid the $600 for Lucy to have surgery. As hopeful as we were, Lucy just wasn’t going to be okay. We had to make the painful decision to pull the plug. I like to think that Lucy is in rat heaven where she frolics about in God’s shirt sleeve.
Now can you blame me for wanting Lucy to be all mine?