Thursday, February 8, 2007

Of Mice and Man

I have a mouse problem at my house. Our home is new, in a newly developed "pasture" and surrounded by several empty lots and the remains of the pasture just a block away. I don't even think we can be Map Quested yet! At any rate, we've been in our house since April and love our home, our neighborhood, all things are great. In may, as I was ironing one morning I saw the first sign of "company" as a tiny little mouse scurried from our laundry room into the kitchen to hide in some minuscule place. I was going to have no part of that and set out to rid the house of the mouse.
Our mouse friend(s) love the trash can and the pantry area and seem to frequent those places more than any other. I hate my trash can, hate it with a purple passion. I bought it because it was a stainless steel step can and looked cool in the kitchen. It is horrible. When I rule the world the manufacturer and designers of said trash can will pay--handsomely for the misery this trash can has brought upon my life. This trash can has a hollow bottom, just perfect for the vermin to dine freely on whatever they please. There must be some kind of party going on because there is more "debris" under that can than New York on January 1st.
After researching proper mouse catching and hoping that out there in cyberspace would be some "i-robot" with a built in laser that could eradicate the vermin for me. Plausable, afterall if a robot could vacuum a house, why could it not then blast vermin to dust and vacuum up the remains? No such device existed. I resorted to the "fancy" trap with the cheese-like trap on it. Turns our mice like peanut butter much more than cheese--at least my mice. So I have successfully managed to hunt, trap, and murder several of those vermin--10 in all. My Dad tells me I may never get away from the little pests. I think he might be right.
Each morning as I rise and face the day I head straight to the trapping zones in hopes of catching those blasted vermin. I get some kind of joy in knowing that I have managed to protect my family from such disgusting0-all be it cute--creatures. A week or two will go buy and I will have to again launch an attack on ridding my home of the unwanted guests.
I had an episode in which I almost hung up my mouse hunting tools. This episode was just about too much for me to tolerate. I had set out two traps and hoped for the best when I rose the next morning. Much to my surprise I had murdered not one, but two pesky vermin. No doubt head strong obnoxious brothers out for a night of gluttony and partying. One brother succumbed to the trap in the trash-a fatal neck injury with no hope of survival. The other brother, not so lucky. As it would turn out I would not be so lucky that morning either.
This brother had made his way to the pantry to loot and pillage our Doritos (they really like Doritos). This brother was inescapably attracted to the peanut butter like some photophyllic bug flying into his death. What was so tragic is the type of injury sustained--not a neck injury. It was a very painful hip injury--he was still alive. I was really in a quandary over the proper way to dispose of the little marauder. I did give him a lecture about how he should not have been so bold as to come into my house and attempt to eat my Doritos--they were MINE and He was NOT invited to dine with us. Incidentally, the Doritos became the property of the mouse once we discovered the evidence of his feasting. I quickly tried to run through my options: stomping, smashing, throwing away...what would be the best? He is clearly going to die and was knocking on the door of death anyway--I just needed to make his journey to the boatman quicker. I finally decided to suffocate him. I placed him in a Ziploc baggie and sealed it up. Threw him to his brother in the trash can I hate and tried to wipe my memory of the incident. I can only imagine what was said, " Mom-God rest her soul-was me a place bro."
My most recent battle with the beasts was getting rather frustrating. The mouse I was pursuing was outsmarting me at every turn. Not only were the Doritos disappearing, but he was eating all of the peanut butter and not tripping the trap. Night after night the story was the same: less Doritos, clean trap! Blast that vermin scum! I felt like Bill Murray in Caddy caddy shack chasing the illusive gopher. I would not be defeated, though--I would rise up and take control of my pantry. He was not able to outwit my spray cheese maneuver--I must have thrown him off guard to the point that the distraction cost him his life.
My current war against the vermin is not something new. I was thinking this morning about all of the encounters with mice I have had in my life. It's been quite a journey and something I didn't realize was so much a part of my life. Those pesky vermin have been driving me crazy for my entire life.
Growing up I lived in Southwest Missouri in a pink asbestos tile house on Route 1. It was a great place for me to grow up and I have the fondest memories of playing at the little pink house, spending long summer days riding my trusty steed-propane tank-to far off adventures. My earliest memory of mice is when I was three or four. My family owned a complete set of Naugahyde furniture, sofa and lounge chair, with green shag carpeting. Our living room had beautiful hard wood floors, stucco walls (hospital green), Walnut end and coffee tables, with huge lamps. The lamp shades were the size of most Korean cars and the actual lamp had a built in night light which I thought was very cool. The chair became home to a mother mouse who decided it was the place to give birth to her brood of vermin. My sister and I really were taken by the little family and thought we would take them under our wings and raise them as pets, maybe teach them a trick or two. But, my Mom and Dad both totally disagreed, we have no idea what happened to those little guys--I think I know what happened but just have a mental block and refuse to accept the cold hard facts.
One winter day when my sister and I were home alone, which we were home alone most of the time, a mouse was caught in our trap. You have to understand that my sister and I got into more predicaments than your average siblings. We refer to ourselves as, "Lucy and Ethel" because our escapades are truly something to behold. My sister was the mastermind and I was just along for the ride, an innocent victim. This particular adventure, Lucy and I discovered a mouse, caught by a trap. It was really cold outside and, like 30 feet to the front door. We decided that we would just save a few steps and throw the vermin into our wood burning stove. This brilliant strategy seemed to be just the ticket in our feeble minds. Now, if you have never experienced the stench of burning flesh I can assure you that it is a stink that sticks to you like peanut butter. A heavy, looming, fowl odor that permeates your whole life. Dense, heavy, green funk that hangs on for dear life. What were we going to do with this burning rat? Dad was going to be home any minute and we were both convinced he would not approve of our decision to cremate the mouse in our stove.
Plan B was ready for execution. Lucy dawned some hot mitts and grabbed some tongs. She opened the door to the stove and drug out the mouse with his tail burning like a fuse. We ran to the front door and threw it into the front yard. One more note of worth: if you decide to cremate a mouse in your fireplace, abort the mission and try to cover up the "smell"--Lysol is not the best choice. What you get is a toxic combination of sterile, singed mouse funk. Not a candidate for the next Yankee Candle scent.
My Dad came home to find the smoldering mouse in the front yard, followed his nose to the house and that's when it got ugly, really ugly. I was in my room by this time, which is where I always ran when Lucy got caught, and can't really attest to what happened. I just know it wasn't' pretty.
I'll never forget the time that Mildred's Maxima was an RV for a mouse. No one knew of this passenger until one day Mildred's car caught fire. She called me from a parking lot not too far away from my house to inform me that her car was on fire and that a mouse had jumped ship and was running for dear life. The Maxima survived that ordeal, the mouse is still in therapy somewhere dealing with the stress of his brush with death. I hear he converted and is now a priest in some monastery.
One other mouse incident happened at a church I worked for in Texas. Just picture grown men, bent over, yielding brooms and trash cans as their chosen weapons, running around like Keystone Cops trying to capture a mouse. A mouse, mind you, running along the wall in a straight line! It was one of most memorable and hilarious things I have ever seen. They never caught that mouse either, but were on full alert for the rest of the service.
My battle with the vermin continues. I am undaunted in my pursuit to rid my world of those nasty, germ carrying, Doritos eating vermin. There really is no happy medium here, it just me and mice in a constant struggle for superiority. As long as I have Target, peanut butter, and traps, I will win the battles--the war is still up to best man.


Sharon said...

Oh geesh! I have just laughed quietly to myself, and my stomach hurts for it! And to think that my nickname growing up in Nebraska was "Mouse"!!! Who woulda thunk it? Thanks for the laugh. I do enjoy a great story and that Lucy and Ethel episode was a riot!

Tracy said...

You, my dear, can tell a tale-pun intended :-)
I have to say i feel sorry for the little rascals. You are a man on a mission. (of course there are the Doritos to consider) I could lend you my foolproof method if you'd like. Their names are Frankie and Holly. They love catchow, pounce treats and adore, absolutely love catching and playing with mousey friends. I don't suppose you've considered getting a kitty of your own?

Will said...

Oh, yes! We have considered the obvious, but my sweet wife would sieze up in one huge allergic reaction. She has a terrible allergy to kitty's. I was kind of hoping, against hope--like no line at the Walgreen's drive-through--that a sweet stray would wander into my neck of the woods. I could sneak some food to my predator.

Babsarella said...

OMG!!! You have me rolling on the floor (and I am at work for gosh sakes!!). That story of you and your sister is a TOTAL RIOT!!! You must tell more of those tales.

Donna said...

Let me say this first, it's albeit, not "all be it." Geez. (insert eyeroll). Now, I can't believe you suffocated that poor mouse! You should have shot it ;). Also, the Maxima wasn't exactly on was smoking and, your dad had arrived to pick me up in time to witness the mouse's escape so the best part of that story is the look on your dad's face which I will never forget! Total shock with a little repulsion added. I can smell the burning mouse....yuck. I often wonder why people speak of the fresh smell of country air when it actually smells mostly like manure and the stench of death. Can't believe I finally made it through this War and Peace post. Sheesh.