Gym Rats

Story Sent in by Geraldine:

Eugene and I met at the gym. It was actually the last place in the world I would've thought that a guy would try to pick me up: I was usually a sweaty mess. However, he'd always give me a smile or a wave and I'd acknowledge him back. One day, I guess he mustered up the courage to come and talk to me.

We did the requisite exchange of numbers and after a couple of weeks, we were out on a first date together. He told me all about how he volunteered in animal shelters and had always kept a bunch of pets of his own.

Not too long before dinner ended, he excused himself and I watched as he went to speak to someone who I guessed was a manager. Eugene spoke to him in a low voice, so I couldn't hear (especially among the sounds of other diners) but the manager's response was definitely audible: "No, no, no. We don't have rats."

Eugene said something else to him that I couldn't hear, and then returned to the table.

I asked, "What was that about?"

Eugene said, "I keep rats, and was wondering if they had any here that I could try to trap and take with me, instead of having them kill them."

"You asked the manager if you could... catch rats?"

Eugene said, "I think what I do for them is more humane than what fate they suffer in a trap, don't you?"

I had to agree on that, but the lengths of Eugene's commitment to rats went far beyond that. His mood noticeably changed, and he shot dark looks all around. He said, "That liar... every place with food in it has rats. It doesn't matter if you're McDonald's or a five-star place with an ocean view. Everyplace has rats."

I tried to explain, "Maybe he didn't want to say that, since, you know, people are eating here."

He said, "Oh, I'll find the rats. They'll try to stop me, but I know where they like to hide."

Eugene stood and walked away, and at first I thought he was going to the bathroom. Instead, he did a sweep of the restaurant, looking down around the corners and walls. At one point, he knelt next to an unoccupied table and smeared his finger on the tile floor.

When he returned to the table, he had a smile. He held his finger up to me. It had a thin layer of dirt on it. He said, proudly, "Look. It's rat-dust."


He nodded and put his finger down. "I knew they had rats here. I'll talk to a waiter. They'll probably be more inclined to talk than the manager."

Sure as that, when our waitress came by the with check, Eugene asked her, "Excuse me, do you have rats, here?"

The waitress glanced at me and replied, "Not that I know of, sir. I'll take the check whenever you're ready."

He paid for dinner and I thanked him, but he bemoaned the restaurant's "culture of silence" and whined about "justice for the rats." Thankfully, though, he performed no more rat reconnaissance and we left the restaurant with most of our dignity.

After we left, we took a short walk and he asked me if I wanted to maybe take a walk to his place to see his "rat collection." I declined as politely as possible, and we didn't talk about rats for the rest of the date, which wasn't that big an accomplishment, I guess, since the rest of the date took all of two or three minutes.

I just didn't feel quite right with him, and so I made an excuse and we parted ways. To this day, I still see him in the gym, and we're polite to each other, but I think he received the hint.


  1. He's like the murine world's Julian Assange.

  2. This is what I came here to say. Thank you.

    Oh, and also this seems like a mediocre date, not a bad one. But then again maybe I've just been reading too many on this site.

    1. based on reading this site, if I was still single, I'd think even the most mediocre of dates was a good one!

  3. There's a big difference between street rats and pet rats. I had a pet rat as a child and he was awesome, but he'd been born in a pet store and was meant to be domesticated. Street rats are dirty and could have diseases (though I don't like the idea of them dying in traps, either).

    This guy was a little off, but definitely not the worst date ever. At least he took the hint and didn't get aggressive about it.

  4. After he asked the waitress if they had rats she should have said, "The chef says we're all out at the moment but we can do a lovely squirrel instead."


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