I entered this essay into the 2014 Erma Bombeck Writing Competition and alas, I did not win . I enjoyed writing it and hope you enjoy reading it!
The Uninvited Guest
Thanksgiving is four days away and I’m hosting 12 for dinner. I never planned for 13.
The menu had been prepared and the shopping was done. I even found a caramel apple cake recipe I couldn’t wait to bake. Then, the oven stopped working.
“Did you know you have a rat?” the repairman asked me, pointing to evidence behind the oven.
Whaat? I can barely buy dog food at Petco just knowing they have rats for sale. They scared me to death. I was looking forward to creating a memorable Thanksgiving for my family. This rat was not my family!
After examining the inner workings of my oven, he informed me it couldn’t be fixed. The rat ate through the insulation and wiring, and took up residence in the back.
Clenching my credit card, I jetted to the mall and charged $1,000 on a shiny new Kenmore. Damn rat. At least it was gone and Mamah could still have her rutabaga.
The next day, my dishwasher stopped working. As I crouched down to check it out, I saw a tail whip underneath. I screamed so loudly that both my kids flew to my rescue with super hero masks and light sabers ready for war.
This was getting personal. The oven was one thing, but no way was I letting this rat take out my dishwasher, or even worse, make me hand wash table settings for 12!
My husband thought we needed Orkin, but I begged to differ as revenge blinded my rationale. After $2,000 (really?) and two separate “four-hour delivery windows,” I transformed from Martha Stewart to Willie from Duck Dynasty. “What we need are some good ol’ snap traps and glue boards,” I declared, heading out for ammo. That bastard was mine.
It’s the morning before Thanksgiving and still no sign of “the uninvited guest.” Should I call Orkin? What if the rat comes out of my mom’s stuffing? The horror…that’s when I heard the squeal. I entered the bathroom and there it was stuck to a glue board. I almost felt bad for the thing, but then I thought about my new credit card bill and I went Goodfellas. With the whack of a bat, I conquered my biggest fear. It’s funny what potential family shame can do to a person’s worst phobias. I wonder what else I’m capable of…
After disinfecting the crime scene, I went off to tend to my other prey, the turkey. Dinner was delicious.
Finally, it was time for the piece de resistance; my caramel apple cake. I tried heating up the caramel sauce in the microwave…but it had stopped working.
Apparently, the rat had a family, too.