(Editor’s note: Folks sue over the darndest things.This is an unsolved mystery. I don’t know how it turned out, since I moved on to a new job before this case was settled. Proceed at your own risk, knowing you’ll still have unanswered questions when you’re done reading…

This is a tale about a tail. It's not a whale of a tale, as you'll soon find out, but I feel compelled to state that those who like their meat boxed and not bottled should read no further.

When a reporter prowls through court records -- which is where the bones of this story came from -- it’s what I call a chicken and feathers affair. There'll be loads of dry, boring stuff -- the feathers -- but occasionally you hit a morsel of meat that you can share with your readers.

I'd like to have been on the jury that heard this case -- assuming it ended up before one for decision -- but I fear that this column would have effectively barred me from that pleasure.

This piece would have served as my ticket to the courtroom exit, quickly expelled from a potential jury because I could not maintain an objective view of the case.

Here's the case in a nutshell: A woman bought a 32 oz. bottle of soft drink -- you'll soon learn why I don't name it, although the suit does -- from a store. She took it home, uncapped it, poured a drink and sat down to watch television.

After drinking the contents of the glass, she happened to glance at the bottle, and according to the suit, claims she saw something sticking out of the bottleneck.

She looked more closely, and realized it was a rodent tail. To which the rest of the rodent was still attached, according to the suit.

She looked at this thing, drifting in the random tides of the partially empty bottle, thought very briefly about what the soft drink she had just consumed must have flowed over, under, and perhaps through on the way to her glass, and -- you guessed it -- became violently ill.

She then filed the suit, which asked $60,000 or so, in connection with the incident involving what I call the mouse martini.

I'm not sure finding a dead rodent in your soft drink is worth $60,000 or so in damages, especially if you lived to file suit better than a year later.

That sort of loot could buy a dump truck load of Rolaids, and bushel baskets of tranquilizers to help one fall asleep on those nights when the images of what was floating -- perhaps partially dissolved -- in the soft drink bottle promoted insomnia.

After all, if people willingly drink a fluid that can dissolve nails -- remember that high school science demonstration? -- the added thrill of finding the drink seasoned by the occasional dead rodent might not be any worse than the inherent hazards.

Granted, a dead rodent in soda pop isn't my idea of a taste treat, but then neither are many other things some people consider delicacies.

Forced to choose between cow and hog brains, mountain oysters, pig's knuckles, chicken gizzards, dogs and cats (considered delicacies in Vietnam) and a glass of rodent cola -- well, it could take a long time to choose.

I wonder, too, whatever became of that bottle with the rodent still in it. If it was held in evidence for a number of years with the rodent slowly decomposing in there, well, I hope the case reached a quick disposition.

A smart defense lawyer might have tried to stall the case until the evidence was dissolved -- no evidence, no crime, right? Whatever the state of the exhibit, I hope they entered it in evidence downwind from the courtroom.

Well, I need to end this column and head to the supermarket. My wife says I have porcelain guts, so I’m going to find out if she’s right.

I'm going to start checking the shelves, looking for that one glorious bottle of cola with some small furred corpse doing a slow motion ballet in the cool darkness at the bottom of the bottle. And that's the one I'm going to buy.

Any time you can take a swig from a 32 oz. glass coffin and possibly make $60,000 from the experience -- even after attorney fees, that's a bargain, folks. And not the kind you'll see advertised either…

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