When I was six years old, my loving parents (who were younger than I am now–CRAZY!) took me to the drive-in movies. I don’t think drive-ins exist anymore, but it was cool when they did. You drove there, got a little speaker box for the car window, and watched the movie from your vehicle. This worked very well then because, up to about twenty years ago, cars were huge and the seats were like couches. You could even bring your own food instead of paying $10 for a chocolate bar.
Anyway, my adorable parents brought me and my brother to see an animated movie called The Secret of Nihm. The poster showed cute mice and said, “Right before your eyes and beyond your wildest dreams. . .” Friendship. Magic. Fun times.
But the movie also terrified me:
- There were angry rats being experimented on. ‘Nihm’ stood for the National Institute of Mental Health, which is a real place and is currently about a thirty-minute drive from my house.
- Backlighting and glowing red eyes.
- A stabbing.
- Possible death of sickly mice children as the mother watches, unable to save them.
- The Great Owl.
I have not seen the film since, and it left me with a fear of rats. But not like how your mom fears snakes: I’m more scared that the rats will speak, know more than they are letting on, and try to stab me.
However, while researching the American Blue Rat, which is a domesticated breed of fancy rat, I learned a lot and my fears were dispelled. Rats are actually smart and social. They like to explore and problem-solve. Domesticated rats are excellent pets, as they are responsive, affectionate, and inexpensive to maintain. The American Blue has a lovely blue coat, ranging from slate to powder blue, and dark eyes. Not scary at all. And even if they know more than they are letting on and can speak, they aren’t bothering me.