Okay, this is less about travel and culture than I anticipate writing about most of the time, but it is connected. And while others change the names of people to protect the innocent, I think the characters in here are okay with being identified. : )
Kelly, my best friend in college, took a year and lived in Italy. When she came back, I had gotten an apartment and had told her she could stay with me for a while. (This is an agreement that we continue still today as I recently spent severaldays at her house while I vacationed in Italy. You can see the door to the B&B apartment – let me know if you want to stay there! Let me say now, any connection to the rest of this story is long gone – God bless Speck’s soul.)
I told this story earlier to one of my tweeps while we were chatting…. He found the story amazing and had to prompt a few others to find out more. So, here I sit at the keyboard, reliving a story that still makes me laugh wholeheartedly albeit from a place of great fear.
So, Kelly flew back from Italy and had a chance to catch up with family in her Oklahoma hometown. I was so excited to have her back and we had already been working with my apartment manager to find her something in the complex. When she was dropped off, not only did she have her clothes and things, but there was this handcrafted cage and an announcement that Speck was really glad to finally meet me.
I had a bunch of questions but the biggest one was about Speck and where he was staying. Speck was Kelly & Steve’s pet rat. Yes, I said rat. And I’m not one of those people who calls hamsters & guinea pigs “rats.” He was indeed a rat. Kelly pointed out that Speck had all his papers. Afterall, he had been cleared through customs to come to the US. The vet had provided all the documentation needed. So the thoughtline went, who was I to question?
It would only be a short time. Kelly’s dad (or someone) had made Speck this great cage. And, well, I was excited to see Kelly. So I showed them inside. My only request was that Speck stay in the cage. Of course Speck was known to be a free-range rat so the cage wasn’t really what Kelly wanted but she said we’d be very careful.
Of course, Kelly meant to keep Speck in the cage, at least most of the time. She’d take him out to play with him and “let him get some exercise” and the like. But she always placed this rat who had traveled more of the world than me, back into his cage.
One night, while I was sleeping somehow Speck found himself to be free-range again. And he was checking out the apartment I assume when he got to my bedroom. I was sound asleep – I mean totally out of it when something moved on my shoulder and I freaked out. The reaction was absolutely automatic and uncontrollable! I threw the covers & whatever was in them against the opposite wall while sitting up and screaming! My heart…. Well I couldn’t tell if it was beating or if the beat was simply so fast as to seem undetectable!
And that’s when things took a weird turn. (Like a scurrying pet rat joining me in bed was normal…. I know.) Kelly came running in, turning on the lights and gathering Speck up in her hands, looked at me and said something like “Janice! You scared him!”
With the way my body reacted, I couldn’t imagine that Speck was half as scared as I was. Seeing her there, I wanted to care that her beloved Speck was scared but had to wait for my heart to return to a normal rhythm and I thought I should receive a personal apology from Speck about the fear he had inflicted.
Kelly and I were able to work through it but I really think Speck had a new found respect for me. Didn’t seem to ever take his eyes off of me when I was in the room from that point on. We seemed to be on equal footing when we both found ourselves living in the New York metro area a couple of years later.
Hope you enjoyed the laughs as much as Mike did. And as you can see from the photo below, Kelly and I have remained friends all this time!