Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Fear the R.O.U.S!

For those of you who continue to refuse to believe in the existence of ROUS’s, I would like to draw your attention to a little article that appeared in the New York Times several weeks ago.  For your benefit, it has been reprinted here in its entirety.  If you don’t take the threat of ROUS’s seriously now, you will by the time you finish reading this post.

New York Times
May 6, 2012

Betty Conklin – staff reporter                       

Public safety officials have issued a preliminary report stating that the death of a Waldorf Astoria hotel bellhop was ‘most likely’ the result of an ROUS (Rodent Of Unusual Size) attack.  Stephen ‘Kip’ Stevens, a bellhop for the venerable Manhattan landmark, was on duty when he disappeared around 1:32 a.m on April 20th.  He had last been seen unloading the luggage of a Mr. Atagatawa, a visiting pharmaceutical representative from Bellevue, Washington, from a Super Shuttle van next to the hotel’s Lexington Ave entrance.  Neither he nor Mr. Atagatawa’s bags ever made it to his room.   According to John Riordan, chief of hotel security, Mr. Stevens, a Waldorf employee of eleven years, was first suspected of absconding with Mr. Atagatawa’s luggage and was reported to the police Friday evening after an exhaustive search of the hotel premises.  Six days later, however, Mr. Stevens’ remains were located behind an isolated outcropping in Central Park, along with the luggage and abandoned luggage cart.  Mr. Stevens’ body showed ‘significant evidence of being gnawed to death,’ according to Sergeant O’Hurlahy, the lead investigator from the city’s elite Bizarre and Occasionally Silly Crimes unit.  According to Sgt. O’Hurlahy, “At this time, we believe the attacker was most likely an ROUS.  We are currently working with the Museum of Natural History, which, fortunately, has one of the few ROUS skeletons in existence, for confirmation based on the size and severity of the many incisor marks present on the victim’s person.”  Mr. Carvato, director of the rodent department at the Museum of Natural History, confirmed that the museum is working on a “gruesome, but fascinating” investigation, but would offer no further details.  When asked to explain the presence of the luggage and luggage cart more than a mile from the hotel, Sgt. O’Hurlahy responded that “one of the bags had been ripped open.  In our interview with Mr. Atagatawa, he described having placed two large summer sausages in the bag in question, which were gone when the bags were located.  We can only surmise that the perpetrator of this crime, whoever or whatever it was, somehow detected the sausages and removed them.”  Nothing else was reported missing from the victim’s luggage, which included “some gold jewelry and a dozen iPad knockoffs.”  Neither police nor Mr. Atagatawa would comment further on the sausages, except to say “they came from a specialty cheese and sausage shop in Nasonville, Wisconsin, and [Mr. Atagatawa] was extremely distraught by their loss.”  If authenticated, Mr. Stevens’ death would be the seventh this year to be attributed to an ROUS, placing it 48th in causes of death in the city, just behind non-vehicular jogging fatalities, and just ahead of mattress suffocation.

The presence of ROUS’s in New York City is obviously not new.  You can ask any New Yorker and they will tell you they’ve been seeing them for years.  In fact, Elizabeth and I saw one when we visited the city in 2000.  We were on the lower east side, somewhere between the Brooklyn Bridge and the United Nations.  We saw one scurry by us, carrying what appeared to be a whole ham in its mouth.  We immediately located the nearest police precinct and reported the ROUS sighting.  The nonplussed desk sergeant asked us how we knew we had seen an ROUS.  I told him about the ham, and how it tried to hide behind a park bench.
“So?” the officer replied.
“It was bigger than the park bench.”
The policeman laughed.  “You’re from out of town, right?  It could have just been a rat.  We have big rats.”
Still, we insisted upon reporting it as an ROUS, which the sergeant obligingly took down. 
“I’ll file this, and we’ll let you know if anything happens,” he said, slowly folding the paper into the aerodynamic shape of an airplane and sailing it to the top of the file cabinet, where a bunch of similar papers were filed.
“Have a nice day,” he said, but his expression said he’d rather we didn’t.
As we left the office, I couldn’t help but remember something my mom had always said.  “When it comes to New Yorkers, don’t even bother trying to impress them.  They positively refuse to be impressed.”  How she came by this knowledge, I have no idea.  To my knowledge, she's never been to New York.  Maybe it’s maternal wisdom coded directly to her DNA.

The point is, New Yorkers’ unnatural unflappability is one thing, but ROUS attacks are on the increase everywhere.  The CDC (Center for Disease Control), which, for some reason, is in charge of ROUS attack statistics, probably because no one else wanted to do it, reports that 37 states have had confirmed ROUS attacks in the past year, with more than 60 fatalities.  And yet nobody is talking about this epidemic.  In towns large and small all over this great land of ours, people are living in ignorance of the rising threat that exists around them.

Personally, I believe this is the fault of the movie, The Princess Bride.   It seems that everyone who has seen that film believes that the ROUS is some fantasy creature that exists only in some imaginary fire swamp somewhere.  They have been further lulled, I believe, into an even falser sense of security by the impression that ROUS’s are nothing more than lumbering stuntmen in shabby rubber suits, running around awkwardly on all fours.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The ROUS is an incredibly cunning creature which relies on the illusion of its ungainly appearance and sluggish movement to draw unsuspecting victims within striking range, much like a snapping turtle will slowly wiggle its fat little tongue to draw the curious fish.

In point of fact, the ROUS’s used in the making of that film were heavily sedated in order to assure the safety of the actors and crew on the set; in real life, ROUS’s only move that way when seriously constipated.  When attacking, they are quick, agile, and tremendously strong predators with razor-sharp incisors and enough jaw strength to publicly humiliate a crocodile. 

So, please, take the following warning seriously:





Why am I taking such an alarmist position on the subject of ROUS’s?  Well, for one thing, I feel the media and our government officials have been woefully derelict in providing the public with enough substantial things to be afraid of.  I mean, really, Eurozone financial collapse?  Autism-causing toxins in children’s food?  Pink slime?  Public fanny pinchers?  It’s like they’re hardly even trying anymore.  Where’s the creativity when it comes to fear-mongering?  Where’s the flesh-eating ebola virus?  Where are our Japanese overlords?  And the meteors?  My God, people, where are all the meteors?

But I digress. 

The real reason I have chosen to speak out on this under-reported threat is because I myself was recently the innocent victim of an ROUS attack.

It happened in our living room last Tuesday night.  I had let the dog out, and because it was such a pleasant evening, I left the back door open to let the breeze in.  Elizabeth and the girls were out shopping, as is their wont, and I was just preparing to sit down to a self-made meal of tuna salad and Triscuits, and watching Glee!  My usual Tuesday routine.

I forgot about the door being open, and failed to notice the mysterious absence of our dog.  Normally, the smell of tuna draws her like a Katniss Everdeen arrow to my side.  Right about the time in the show that Finn and Quinn start fighting, I saw a shadow moving out of the corner of my eye.  Things happened quickly after that.  I just remember this horrible, brown thing moving in, closer and closer, staring, breathing, advancing, crouching… After that, I remember nothing.

In the emergency room later that night, Elizabeth came to see me.  She looked me over, having already been informed that my wounds were not life-threatening, and asked, rather pointedly, “You left the door open again, didn’t you?” She then gave me a merciless glare, and walked out of the room without saying another word.  It’s not the first time we’ve skirmished regarding my propensity for leaving doors open.  Around two a.m., when the cab dropped me off, I came back inside to find the family asleep, and every door in the house locked, including and especially the one to our bedroom.  To top it off, she hadn’t touched the blood stains on the living room carpet.  There I was, two-thirty in the morning, having been mauled by an ROUS just a few hours before, my body sore and heavily bandaged, cleaning up my own blood, which our dog had since tracked all over the kitchen floor.  Our neighbors later told us they saw our dog, in the backyard, sitting on top of our daughters’ jungle gym at the time of the reported attack.  They said they thought it was strange, but not strange enough to investigate further.  Apparently, they felt the same way about my screams of panic and agony, which sounded, and probably looked, just like this:

Somehow, in the midst of all the terror, I was able to get some pictures of the attack with my cell phone.  I apologize for the blurry, low resolution quality of the photos.  I wish I could have captured the beast more clearly, but my phone is not the latest and greatest in technology, plus I was trying to dial 911 at the same time; and, oh yeah, I was scared sh*tless, too.  And the * doesn’t stand for ‘ir.’ 

Here are the pictures.  If you’re squeamish, you may want to have someone else preview them first. 


As it turned out, I was one of the lucky ones.  I was attacked by a juvenile ROUS, which was only capable of inflicting mostly superficial flesh wounds.  But you, or someone you love, may not be so lucky.  I’m using my blog as a way to reach virtually dozens of people all over the world in the hopes of raising awareness of the grave danger ROUS’s represent.  Please help me spread the word.  If it helps save even one innocent person from a cruel ROUS attack, it will be worth the certain mockery of the unbelieving masses.
Please, help spread the word:  FEAR THE R.O.U.S!

P.S.  And don’t forget to lock your doors.


  1. You're right about the ROUS appearing harmless. Look at that last picture. And then, BAM!!! Attack mode.

    1. Conspiracy theorists might say that Elizabeth knew you would leave the door open and sent the ROUS to teach you a lesson. Sleep with one eye open, my friend.

  2. Sorry I've been dormant for the last few weeks- catching up now!
    My guess New York either has a ROUS problem or a zombie problem,
    You, sir, have a ROUS problem- but that's the cutest ROUS I've ever laid eyes on. Oh wait- I'm pretty sure that's the only one I've ever laid eyes on.
    And I keep finding gems of Mom's wisdom on your blog. I never knew she knew so much about New Yorkers and I love the saying 'A few nuts shy of a pecan pie'- (from a previous post).
    Lovin it like McLovin!

    1. I have the feeling mom wouldn't remember saying a few of the things she's said on this blog. It's a good thing I'm around to document these things...