I used to say all kinds of things to my rats. On Melissa and Aki, who were my favorites, I used a lot of superlatives, often as substantive nouns: “Hey nicest, hey softest, who is best?” Because Melissa’s name means “sweetest girl” and she was albino the comparison to sugar seemed obvious, therefore “My little sugar cube” and similar. I also for some reason love the word doe and took every opportunity to use it on them. “You’re a DOE!” “Who is my doe?” and, when holding more than one in my hands at once, “Does, DOES!” like a mad scientist. Also, because I am a dork, when they were using me as a jungle gym (a frequent occurrence) I would often cry out “Oh my God, rats, THEY’RE EVERYWHERE!” in mock horror. Lastly, I became fascinated by rat anatomy and various rat facts, and would croon them at my girls very often. “Who can’t see color? Yoooooou can’t!” Aki’s final illness lasted a long time, a rare thing in rats, and toward the end she could barely move. I would place her on my bed and have conversations with her: “Did you know that you have twelve mammae? It’s true! Twelve mammae means you win!” In response she would groom me.