Rats, Lies and Capybaras

I like to think that I can spot a phony when I see one or smell a sham a mile away. However, drawn in by his lopsided, glossy, poster board and magic marker sign containing lofty promises of pure zoological freakdom, I somehow failed to do so.

Handing over my money to the toothless, mulleted man, I walked halfway into the dimly-lit tent and spotted the object of my search. It was then and there—partially down the pathway, blocking traffic—I stopped dead in my tracks, turned swiftly on my heels and called him out.

“Excuse me!” I shouted backwards toward the way I’d come. “This is NOT a RAT. It is a CAPYBARA! I just saw one of these on the National Geographic channel! Your sign is a big, fat lie.” I declared with an air of superiority that I A. knew what a capybara actually WAS and B. at the notion of exposing him for the liar that he obviously was.

“No ma’am,” he said with a hillbilly drawl. “I ain’t lyin’. I told ya’ll it’d be like watchin’ the National Geographic channel LIIIIIIVE!” he hollered back with extra enthusiastic emphasis placed on the long “I” in ‘live’ for full effect.

I’d been duped. I’d fallen prey to the circus sideshow sales pitch and been fooled. I had drunk the Kool-Aid and was now exactly $3 poorer than I was before ever stepping foot in the place. But before I go on and on about my deep disappointment upon feeling cheated, let me take you back to the beginning…

It was a hot, summer night in southern Ohio and four of us gals on a weekend-warrior-retreat had decided to leave our wilderness cabin and check out the nearest municipality. Logan, Ohio (population 7,152) is the county seat of Hocking County — an area rich with natural and geological wonders that draws tourists from all over the country who come to explore beautiful Hocking Hills State Park.

And on this particular summer night, as we happened to be passing through, Logan just happened to be having their Annual Washboard Music Festival complete with sweet-and-fatty fair food, face-painting booths, colorful characters peddling their wares, an obnoxious train ride for the young ‘uns and a sampling of carnival games.

Immediately at the front entrance of the street fair, I was confronted by a large sign announcing the presence of the “World’s Largest Rat.” Oh yes, just on the other side of the canvas walls of the shiftiest-looking tent I’d ever seen was a whopping 100-lb. rat… and I HAD to see it.

I’d left my purse at the cabin so I tugged on the arm of one of my girlfriends with all of the gusto of a six-year-old harboring a wicked hankering for some cotton candy. I begged her to not only pay my way, but to go inside WITH me so as not to be alone in my curious-on-the-verge-of-hysterical, idiotic stupor.

She obliged and we wandered in. And you know the rest. But the reason for my great disappointment was that I had SOOOO hoped to see an enormous, 100-lb. RAT, fully outfitted with soft grey fur, a long thick pink tail, shiny black eyes the size of golf balls, a wiggly nose, teeth like a lioness and whiskers the length of a yard stick.

I was NOT expecting to see something that although IN the rodent FAMILY… did not look like anything remotely close to a giant sewer rat capable of terrorizing the subways of Manhattan.

Truthfully, I wasn’t sure who to be more angry with… Myself for being so stupid as to think that this awesome freak of nature would actually be in Logan, OH (population 7,152)… Or Mullet Man who sold me on the idea with his flashy, homemade signs and toothless grin?

Now some of you might be saying: “Joanna, it WAS a giant rodent… to-MA-to, to-MAW-to. Why can’t you just let it go?” But I simply CANNOT let it go, at least not until I’ve told my story and shared with you my much-deserved feelings of deception, anger and disillusionment at the crooked capitalist empire that is the carnival sideshow industry.

And if, per chance, the “World’s Largest Rat” should pay a visit to a small, hick-town community near you… You’ve been warned. Hang on to your money and consider this your cautionary “tail.”

This is a rat.

THIS is a capybara. Note: It is NOT a rat.


27 thoughts on “Rats, Lies and Capybaras

  1. too funny… we used to have sideshows in Minerva’s little Homecoming Carnival. It was the usual fat lady and the other lady that was really a man. The person was supposed to both. Very strange. I didn’t lose any money over it. It just wasn’t something I wanted to see. Now the 100 pound rat…that would be AMAZING!!! :O)

    • I don’t remember those from when I was little so they must have done away with them by the time I was old enough to remember them. I do remember seeing a couple of 2-headed animals in my lifetime… but didn’t know if they were in Minerva or Carrollton??

  2. You are right there is a difference and what you saw was not a rat! I however did see something last week that I did not have to pay to see and did not expect to see in the almost middle of town! A coyote! Right across the street from my house. In a grassy area behind a building across from me. And when I saw across, I am not talking about a huge road, I could almost just over from one side to the other. This coyote was tooooooo close to my house. To me if I had been getting out of my car at night. I have never ever seen one in real life before. It wasn’t really scared of me or the crazy barking dogs. I am glad that I was in the house and not walking the dogs as I have been known to do at night. I won’t be doing that anymore! And I think I saw it walk across the street and pick up a rat from the storm drain, although I have never seen a rat in the storm drains. It did look like a rat and not a capybara though.

    • Linda, that is pretty cool spotting a coyote, but I do understand it can be unsettling too. They probably are more afraid of you than you are of them but if you have small animals, I’d keep a close eye on them! So glad (also) that you do NOT have capabaras in your storm drains! 😉

  3. Donald Miller says:

    Oh yeah. You were ripped off.

    You hit it out of the ball park with the writing on this one. Excellent throughout, but perhaps my favorite line– “. . . my much-deserved feelings of deception, anger and disillusionment at the crooked capitalist empire that is the carnival sideshow industry.” *Big Smile*

    • haha 😀 Thank you Donald! I’m glad you enjoyed this one. And thank you for saying so. It did not get many reads, likes or comments but it was fun to write. I guess certain posts (maybe all of them who knows…) should just be for US the writers of them and not for the general public. Oftentimes the posts I think will get a lot of positive attention do not garner much of anything and the posts that I put together half-assedly (not a word I know) really do well. So I guess that means I have no idea what people will respond to. C’est la vie. I shall write for me!

      Hey! That rhymes! Maybe an upcoming post? I am coming up on my one-year anniversary for this thing…

      • Donald Miller says:

        Sometimes the title helps—but not often. I rewrote one title because the story wasn’t getting any reads, and it worked. I changed it to: “Don’t Read This, Because It Really Sucks!” It was one of my more read essays, and the title probably wasn’t too far off in terms of the quality, if I recall.

        I would have thought that a title with the name—“Duct tape, a shovel, a shotgun, and an outhouse” would get some reads (well, maybe not.). But one with the title—“Arthur the Wild Warthog’s Belly Rub” should’ve gotten some. (Not written by me. But the title is mine.)

        Your title is classy. (Perhaps. Just maybe, if we’ve learned anything from the Nefarious Toothless Grinner, it’s that the title can make a difference. Outrageous Deception Within The Corrupt Carnival Sideshow Industry.)

        Ohhh, I just wrote that and I think this is the one—“The Nefarious Toothless Grinner, And His Vile Sideshow.”

        • Yes. I agree that the title is key. I wondered about mine. It was meant to be a play off of the famous “Sex, Lies and Videotape” of long ago… even has the exact same number of syllables. But I think it probably didn’t grab people. Now your title about the Nefarious Toothless Grinner is good! Thanks for the advice 😉

  4. Donald Miller says:

    Oh, I was just thinking of a good come-back. (Isn’t that the way it always goes? you get half a block away and THEN come up with it.) “You don’t look very large to me.”

  5. Shawdiane says:

    We just don’t get such things as ‘Capybaras’ here on the Isle of wight. So keep these stories world wide. I am learning something new each read. 🙂

    • Thank you Diane! I am so sorry I haven’t returned all of your wonderful comments! I am so excited to hear how much you enjoy the blog and I do hope to produce some more posts soon. I’ve been preoccupied with the job search recently and low on inspiration. But I wanted you to know that I have read them and although I haven’t responded to each one, I am thankful for you and your comments 😀 Take care, “talk” to you soon!

  6. Donald Miller says:

    I’ll betcha if it was a well-behaved Kangaroo you wouldn’t have minded. I know I wouldn’t. The reason I mention that is because of the appearance. I love Sylvester the Cat’s Encounters with Kangaroos.

    Well, I couldn’t find the Kangaroo one, but I did come across this cute gem.

  7. I’d have done the same thing that you did. That would be like saying that a tiger is a house cat. I’m not buying.

    I’ve been missing your blog, and I found it. The notification for yours has been weirdly attached to those of another blog instead of being a separate email. I’ve missed you so much!

    • Hahaha!! 😀

      Thank you for writing 🙂 Truthfully, I have been missing the blogosphere entirely! I haven’t been writing or reading anything! And I have several comments I need to return. I am glad things are working properly for you now and I hope to be “back” soon. I miss you too!!

    • Thank you JT. I hknow I have been MIA as far as the blog goes. I have several comments to return and I need to post something new. The truth is, I’ve been cheating on WordPress with Linked In… which equals SOCIAL MEDIA OVERLOAD!! But I’ve been needing to step up my game to try and find a job. Thank you for checking in. I feel badly that I haven’t visited your blog in awhile or Donald’s or any of my other buddies 😦 I hope to find some time soon and I hope all is well with you!

    • Donald Miller says:

      Yo, JT.

      That cartoon I placed in my comment lower down on this page is from 1953. No doubt it’s one of those they used in drive-in movies, while people waited for the film, as the stragglers drove in.

  8. Shawdiane says:

    Hi, please ignore the remove comment messages on other pages, I didn’t think you were doing the blog any more so wished to have my writing removed, so glad you got intouch above to explain & I hope things are vahstly improving on the job scene. It will happen, YOU BET !!!! 🙂 Have a great week my friend.

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