NAYLOR: Rat Eater Madness

The following message is a public service announcement.

This is for all the parental units out there. You know who you are. By now you've warned your kids to stay away from the beast-weed marijuana. You've explained the insidious dangers of coke, crack and crank; begged them to steer clear of ecstasy, acid, peyote and heroin; even clued them in that, while hash and amyl nitrates totally rule and can free your mind in miraculous ways, they do have minor drawbacks. But don't retire to the liquor cabinet to toast your insightful hands-on parental skills just yet, Homer and Marge Simpson.

There's a new menace on the street and your kids could be getting mixed up with it right under your nose. It's popular, readily available, and worst of all, it's perfectly legal. It's a million times worse than anything society has faced before. You might even call it a plague. And it wouldn't be the first time in history, rats have been saddled with that particular moniker.

Yes, rats. Those beady-eyed, garbage-rooting rodentistas are how kids today get their sick thrills.

With the high-wattage mega-buzz surrounding the CBS smash "Survivor," and "I'm voting you off the island!" replacing "Is that your final answer?" as cheesy catch-phrase of the summer, rat eating has been given the stamp of validation by Hollywood. That's all it takes to launch it as another mindless fad/craze/industry among teenagers paralyzed with ennui and desperate for some gritty shock value rite of passage. But "ratting" is a disturbing, disgusting habit that could have tragic consequences.

Some street names for rat include: squeak, gnaw, Asia gray, black death, stoner squirrel, naked tail, tail, FSD -- as in Frank, Sammy and Dino, the original Rat Packers -- dumpster chicken, gutter gold, wingless pigeon, skitter, short pork and bastard. Yes, as in rat bastard. But whatever you call it, rat has become the abusable substance of choice for suburban teens and inner city youth alike, all looking to tune in, turn on and chow down. Just listen to what these addicts have to say.

Stefi: Like, the first time some of my friends wanted me to do some squeak I was all, hello, that is so raunchy. But then I caught a whiff of the honey glaze it was marinated in and I was all, hook me up! Pretty soon I had like, a 12-rat a day habit. My cholesterol was out of control, my booty was bigger than Tori Spelling's, and she is so gross, and I was sharking money from my family for sauces and side dishes.

Dylan: One time I was at this party and these dudes were passing around a rat. I didn't even know what it was, I thought maybe it was Cornish game hen, so I took a hit. And dude, I had found my reason for living! It was lightly brushed with a tarragon butter and served in a portabello mushroom strudel and it totally rocked my world. I don't think I can ever stop eating rat, even if it's just burgers, or in a casserole. I am so under it's sway. When my parents found out, they got me into a program that tries to help ease you down by serving gerbils and silverfish, but the craving is still there. Nothing kicks like rat.

Frightening, isn't it? And it's only going to get worse before it gets better. "Survivor II" is already being story-boarded. How can you tell if your child is hopped up on rat? Look for these warning signs:

- Constant scratching of flea bites.

- A case of bubonic plague they can't seem to shake.

- Always needing a ride to the landfill.

- Lack of interest in all family activities that don't involve a trip to the landfill.

- Breath like compost.

- Large wheels of cheese missing from the refrigerator.

- Wearing clothing made from teeny, tiny fur pelts.

- Sudden interest in spices.

- Evidence of rat cooking paraphernalia such as, skewers, fondue forks, filet knife or boxes of Vermin Helper.

If any of these signs seem familiar, chances are your child is riding the rodent. Seek professional counseling immediately. You must help the ones you love break the cycle of addiction before it's too late. Teach your children to Just Say Yuck.

This message paid for by the American Council of Weasel Farmers. If you're going to eat a disease-bearing rodent, shouldn't it be a weasel? Weasel: it's the other beige meat.

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