But it's pointless to speak of such things. Whatever occurs, I will be there muttering, hiding my face in the sofa cushions, and yelling "Fuck yeah!" at the TV screen. For I am a Met fan.
Instead, consider the grooming habits of rats.
Rats bathe themselves frequently, as often as twelve times a day. They begin by crouching on their back haunches to lick both paws and rub their faces and heads. Having done this several times they twist around to lick their sides and flanks, and back to lick their stomachs. They are fastidious creatures. They lick their hind toes after scratching with them, even if they are going to scratch again immediately afterward; this is an unusually dainty gesture, partially because of the concern for cleanliness it implies, and partially because a rat's hind toes are very long and slender. It makes them look artistic and fastidious, yet nervous, like Sherlock Holmes preparing his needle.
Rats also groom each other, and occasionally members of other species. (When Aki has spent too much time drinking from my coffee mug she goes into grooming overdrive, frenziedly lapping at my face.) A rat who wishes to be groomed will crouch in front of another in a submissive attitude. Rats, like humans, often wash each other's backs, and, like humans, do not perform this service for just anyone. Social grooming is more than a way to keep clean and reduce parasite populations: it's an intimate gesture, a way for members of the group to reaffirm their bonds with each other.
Sometimes, however, social grooming takes on a different character. Often, a rat in a high position in the social order will grab a subordinate rat and administer a swift, rough bath. This is called force-grooming, and it is a means of asserting dominance. Many subordinate rats resent this very much; others don't seem to care.
It seems to me that human beings do their share of force-grooming. Think of all the mothers you have seen yelling at their children while scrubbing at their faces with saliva-soaked tissues. Or the military, where inadequate presentation is often severely punished. Or those creepy relationships where the male dictates what the female wears. When you pick lint off your friend's sweater, or say, "C'mere, you got something in your teeth," are you engaging in social grooming or force-grooming? Something to think about.
I am dragging my feet on Chapter Six, it is true. When I have done editing the hundreds of pages waiting for me, so that I may send the proceeds directly to the government, I will be able to think about it. Until then, suffer, mundanes! Ahahahaha!
Total word count: 43,644