My wife Mary Ellen called to me from the kitchen the other day, sharing a headline she had just read online.
“I’m not surprised,” I responded. “I was walking in the park just yesterday and the kids were driving me crazy with their screaming and complaining and fighting …”
“Dick, what are you talking about? The headline said Indianapolis has the 15th-highest number of rats.”
“Oh, sorry, I thought you said brats.”
Yes, we are No. 15 on a list of major cities that are rat-infested. I’m sorry I have to tell you some of the other cities because you may be planning a little winter’s vacation there and that might make you really nervous eating at a restaurant or dangling your feet from a movie theater seat.
Also reported: Los Angeles moved up to the No. 2 ranking while New York rounds out the top three spots. Jumping up 10 spots this year is Houston to No. 20, and Greensboro, N.C., moves up 17 spots to take No. 50. Wow, that’s more complicated than a March Madness bracket.
The No. 1 city for rats is Chicago. This is the ninth year it has won. It’s sad that the rats have a better record than the Cubs. The nation’s capital was fourth with a half-million rats, 500,535 if you count Congress.
The people at Orkin, who publish this research annually, market clothing that heralds Chicago as “No.1 in rats.” Shirts come pre-shrunk and pre-gnawed. The back of the garment should have a picture of Jimmy Cagney saying, “You dirty rat.” Although his exact line was: “You dirty yellow-bellied rat.” Shirts are selling well, even in the nicest rodential part of Chicago.
Years ago, there was a famous YouTube video of a rat in New York City (No. 3 on the list) scampering down the steps of a subway with a slice of pizza in his mouth. The camera followed him on his long journey back to his nest. You would never see that sight in Indy because even rats here know if you want really good thin pizza, you have to make a road trip to the Big Apple.
Remember now, Chicago is No. 1. Rats living there apparently prefer the famous deep-dish pizza, which is more of a casserole. You’d need a whole pack of rats just to move one slice crosstown.
After I finished reading the article, Mary Ellen and I headed out for dinner so we could stop obsessing about the fact we were No. 15 on the list. But I couldn’t erase this image from my mind. That’s why I ordered the ratatouille.
By the way, the Indianapolis area is the 13th-best city to raise a pet bunny. That is absolutely true, so help me internet. I thought I’d end with some good news.