Thursday, February 12, 2009

A very nice rat wants very nice cheese

A mad scientist has a very nice grant from a very nice university. This affords him a very nice lab, a very nice rat and some very nice cheese.

This is not ordinary rat. This is a very smart rat. It has been through many experiments and acquired wealth of knowledge. She is a 5th generation lab rat, in fact. She reads lab rat science magazines and admires all the great ones that came before her and all the great ones in all the great labs belonging to great scientists with great grants. She reads "Who moved my cheese" daily, just so she can be ready in case there is an experiment that day.

Of course, cheese is an important element of any experiment.

One day, the scientist takes the rat. More than a great lab rat this was the scientist's pet rat, so she got to go places that no other rats adventured to before. Her scientist was mad, but was very kind. On this day, they went to the grocey store. This was usual fare. The scientist felt that to achieve good results it was best to allow the rat to experience the cheese buying experience.

On this particular day, though, on the way back from the grocery store, they stopped at a big place called Home Depot. The rat could read, of course, that is how she knew where they were. At this place, her usually unskilled master bought what seemed like miles and miles of wood which he then piled up in his very nice little sedan (must protect the environment, even if you are a mad scientist).

The scene was familiar from the many journals he had read. Soon enough, it was clear what was going to happen. The proverbial maze.

Now, this was no ordinary rat and she could smell the cheese bought. It was no ordinary cheese. It smelled like no cheese she had ever had before. And so it was that with a tummy full of cheese scent, she set off to beat the scientist at his own game.

She sent a notice to all the rats and mice in the neighborhood. She would be recruiting for a special super secret mission. She needed someone astute enough to conjure up a plan, but not too interested in the cheese for fear that the temptation for the cheese was greater than the committment to work together. These mazes can be dangerous and if a couple of rodents were going to conquer, they would have to stay together. She decided not to mention the quality of the cheese.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of waste in New York City (where the rat lived), so not many replies came without the mention of the special cheese. I mean, why would subway mice leave warm hideouts full of junk food for possibly stale cheese? So it was that the best response obtained and the resource chosen by the rat was not a rat or a mouse but a squirrel. See, with urbanization, there were not many nuts to be had in the city and cheese sounded mighty good.

And so it was that the squirrel moved in. At night when the scientist slept, they schemed and planned and developed and thought about just how they were going to outsmart this maze. During the day, the squirrel would go in the stack of books covered in dust and would hide among the common rodents so the scientist did not catch onto their plan.

The day arrived when they were going into the maze. But, it arrived with the winter. And try as she could to wake up the squirrel, nothing could. She was disappointed and furious. She had not thought about how to obtain the cheese and conquer the maze by herself at all! What is a disappointed rat to do at the call of her master?

Surely, a 5th generation lab rat understands well that the principal duty of a lab rat is to further science research and discoveries. So she obediently went on. The maze was everything she had read about and more. Thankfully, the cheese was not moved. She could smell it. With every turn, it smelled like it was closer until the smell was overwhelming. But she seemed to be running around in circles. How could it be? Everything she read indicated there would be an opening and the golden substance would shine right through like a mighty irresistible, mouth watering giant. But, she couldn't get to it. And come to think of it, this did not smell like the very nice cheese from the very nice grocery store. Oh, that nothing this day will turn by the book.

After hours of struggle, the scientist opened the entrance door to the maze and called out the rat. She followed the way out, dejected and disappointed. All the planning, all the scheming, all the desire, all the effort to have neither conquered maze nor tasted golden cheese.

The mad scientist took the rat to her cage and as she opened her eyes, through her heavy eyelids from all the effort and all the frustration, she spotted it. And it was white, not golden. And it was the very nice cheese from the very nice grocery store and she was given it freely by her master and she could not understand. In the cage next door, the other rats and the dust covered squirrel enjoyed the usual meal.

Alas, a very nice lab rat can read very nice writings about the way things should be. She can trust very nice squirrels and come up with very nice plans. But some mazes are unconquerable and the sweetest blessings come but from the mercy of a very nice master. Alas, a very nice mad scientist might be mad, but what is a scientist to do if not care for his flock of rodents, the converse of which makes him a mere exterminator?

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