One of the advantages of living in a small town is that sometimes I meet people who used to live in my house and they tell me stories about when they lived here. From 1970 to 1976, the Jeske family lived in what's now my house, and since Mr. and Mrs. Jeske live just a block or so away now, I see them a lot and I get to hear little stories about the house now and then.
A few days ago Mrs. Jeske was walking her dog and stopped to say hello. "I heard you found a dead rat in the ceiling," she said. (Apparently she heard this story from my sister-in-law Kristy, my little brother's wife.)
I laughed and told her that I did indeed find a rat and that (so far) that's the yuckiest thing that's happened to me.
"You sure it was a rat?" she asked.
"Oh yeah," I said, "it was a rat. Big teeth, nasty little claws. Yuck. It was a rat."
"Sooo...how big was it?"
Now about this time I began to think that maybe Mrs. Jeske had lost her mind, or perhaps she possessed a sick sense of humor that I wasn't previously aware of. I stuck out my foot. "It was about that big, as big as my foot."
She considered this. "Hmmm...did it have a tail, or no?"
"Yeah, it had a tail. A big long tail wrapped around its hiney. It was gross."
"Oh. Well, that's too bad," Mrs. Jeske said.
Huh?!? Too bad??
She must've seen the puzzled look on my face because she provided an explanation.
"Yes, it's too bad. See, when we lived here the kids were little and they had a pet hamster. It was my son Benny's hamster. We went on vacation and a friend of ours was taking care of the hamster for us. Somehow, that hamster got out of his cage and we never did find it. Benny was so upset. He cried and cried. I was gonna tell Benny that you finally found his pet hamster after all these years. Too bad it was a rat."