…and bit the babies in their cradles…”
I memorized a big chunk of Robert Browning’s “The Pied Piper of Hamelin,” as an assignment in some public school grade or other. I can still rattle most of it off. (How wondrous is our school education! We remember so much more from it than from what happened yesterday.)
I thought of “The Pied Piper” immediately when reading an editorial in today’s New York Times, which really isn’t about rats — it’s about commercial sanitation pickup in the city — but the beginning of the ed was so rattily terrific. And funny. (Funny? Rats? Oh why not?)
How bad is New York’s trash nightmare? So bad that, back in 2013, officials frantic to subdue the growing rat population attempted to slip the rodents birth control. But without a little seasoning, they wouldn’t touch it. Raised on New Yorkers’ rich and putrefying leavings, the rats knew they had more delectable options available to them. Researchers added flavor to the drugs to tempt the fattening critters to bite before romancing one another.
“Ultimately it ended up being something like cannoli cream,” said Joseph Lhota, the former chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. “It worked a little bit. Until they wised up.”
New York City rats, wised up. Yeah.