Of Mice and Me

1.

Sunday afternoon, Doug takes Jack and Jane to the beach to gather rocks, leaving me at home with the babies.

We play happily on the living room floor, stacking blocks and knocking them over and laughing, until I have to go start dinner. When I walk into the kitchen, I see a mouse. In my kitchen. In my sink.

I scream. It darts out of the sink and into the drying rack, curls up under one of my teacups. I stand there, breathing hard and wondering what I should do. I’m not cooking until I disinfect the kitchen. And I’m not disinfecting the kitchen till that mouse is no longer in it.

I look around for a cat. We have two. And of course neither of them is anywhere in sight. I don’t want to leave the mouse to run and hide somewhere, so I stand there in the kitchen doorway, peeping at the mouse inside my teacup and thinking violent thoughts, waiting for Doug to get home.

2.

This is the third mouse I’ve seen inside my house since Wednesday. The first was hiding in Doug’s gym clothes. I heard a startled cry in the bedroom—that was Doug discovering something moving in his clothes basket—and then saw a mouse dash out of our bedroom and under the sofa.

Doug grabbed the wok lid out of the cupboard and handed it to Jack. “Your job is to put this over the mouse, got it?”

Jack nodded.

Doug and I pulled the sofa out from the wall. Of course the mouse traveled with it. “Okay,” Doug said, “we’re going to have to tip it up so the mouse won’t have anywhere to hide.”

“Sure,” I said. As we each stood on one side of the sofa and prepared to heave it forward, I added, “Is it just me, or does this feel like a re-run of Squirrel Cop?”

“Good thing we don’t have a fireplace,” Doug said.

“Oh, I don’t know. The sofa is such a mess, it might be nice to have it burn up. Then we’d be forced to buy a new one.”

“Ready Jack?” Doug asked. Jack nodded. “On three,” he said to me.

We heaved the sofa over, tipping it till its underside was exposed.

Jane, who was sitting on the dining room table during all this excitement, screamed, “It ran under the table! It ran under the table!”

I looked at the floor where the sofa used to sit. No mouse. “How did it escape?” I asked Doug.

He shrugged. “They’re fast.”

We couldn’t find it anywhere, so Doug again prepared to leave for work, and I headed to the bedroom to clean off the armoir, where the basket of Doug’s gym clothes had been. When I looked down at the floor between the armoir and the wall, there was a thin, dark brown shoelace lying on the floor, the tip of it just showing past the edge of the armoir.

I stooped down to take a closer look. Then I called to Doug. “Tell me that’s not what I think it is.”

He put on his work gloves and pulled on the shoelace. Only it wasn’t a shoelace. It was a tail. A very long tail belonging to a very dead mouse.

“Ew.” I said. “Ew. Ew. Ew.”

Doug carried the mouse outside. Jack looked at me and said, “I thought it smelled like mouse in here.” I closed my eyes. Oh. Dear. God.

 

3.

Now, as I stand in the kitchen keeping an eye on this third mouse of the week, I shudder. If it was gross to find a mouse in our clothes, it’s far worse to find one in our dishes. I feel unclean. But I keep my vigil, and when Doug gets home, the mouse is still inside the teacup.

He tries to trap it, but it’s too fast. It darts out of the teacup, over the counter, and runs across the floor to hide behind my desk in the adjoining office. We pull the printer table out, and the mouse dashes over Doug’s foot, back across the office, and slams into a wall.

Instead of doing something useful—oh, say, trapping the mouse under the wok lid that’s sitting on the floor by my feet—I stand in the kitchen screaming like Buttercup when Wesley is battling the R.O.U.S. The dazed mouse scampers to its feet and disappears under the refrigerator.

Doug says nothing about my completely unhelpful behavior.

We pull out the refrigerator, but the mouse isn’t there. It probably scampered along under cover of the fridge.

“Well,” I say, “it’ll just have to stay there. We need to eat.”

But of course we can’t eat until I’ve disinfected every surface the mouse has even possibly touched. I run all the dishes in the sink—even the wooden ones—through the dishwasher’s sanitary cycle. I boil my teacups in a pot on the stove. I slosh rubbing alcohol over the counters and scrub them.

“Do you think it’s disinfected?” I ask Doug. “Do you think I killed all the mouse germs?”

He gives me his are-you-kidding look. “You’ve used the nuclear option,” he says. “No germ left behind.”

 

4.

Doug and Jack spend half of Doug’s day off on Monday ripping the insulation out of the basement ceiling. “Operation Deny Sanctuary,” Doug calls it. They find a couple of abandoned mouse nests. When they’re done pulling the insulation down and carting it out of the basement, I go downstairs to vacuum up all the leftover bits of insulation—and the mouse poop.

I don’t know how many mice it takes to make that much poop. I don’t want to. It takes me an hour to vacuum. By the time I’m done, my chest feels congested and I have a headache. I probably have hantavirus.

For that matter, with all these mice running around, the babies’ colds probably aren’t colds. They probably have hantavirus, too.

After we’ve each showered and scrubbed all the insulation and mouse germs off our bodies, Doug takes a nap. I go into the kitchen to make a cup of tea. The mouse is sitting on my butcher block. As soon as it sees me, it darts behind the stove and sits there with its head poking out.

“Shoot!” I yell (only I’m pretty sure that when I actually said that word, there was an i in it, not two o’s).

Doug comes running from the bedroom. We play Hunt The Mouse again. And again, the mouse wins.

But that night, the cats tussle in the kitchen. I haven’t seen hide nor hair of the mouse since.

Game over, man. And good riddance.

*****
If you liked this post, you might like to read the rest of The Mouse Trilogy: More Mouse Mayhem (part two) and Le Morte de Mouse (part three).

  • jen

    I am pretty sure the one in the kitchen was just trying to make you a spot of tea. Think of Tumtum and Nutmeg and you’ll be fine — these are just furry faeries mending your socks and gym clothing. And the one under the sofa was just trying to fix that ripped seam.

    But maybe you should think about getting better cats, just in case.

  • Kristin

    Oh my, Kimberlee! What a great story teller you are. If only the story was fictional. Alas, I know a bit about how an invasion like this feels. Only mine were rats… that jumped down from the basement rafters whenever I entered to do laundry. Eeesh!

  • Cathee Till

    Okay, first of all: ew, I’m really really sorry, that sounds miserable.
    Second of all: I laughed through this whole blog post. Despite your maddening story, it makes me unbelievably happy that you referenced not just Buttercup and the R.O.U.S., but also Squirrel Cop. Well done, my friend.

    When we were little, we developed a mouse infestation in our house, and got a little gray cat that we named “Killer” to help take care of it. We first discovered the mice when they crawled into the antique piano in the living room and we could hear their little feet scurrying over the strings and making strange music.

  • Glyn

    I’m with Cathee: after the “ew” passed, I couldn’t stop laughing. I can only hope you’ve been able to laugh about it too. A good cat or two can be the answer to many of life’s problems : )

  • http://imwritingtoo.blogspot.com Kristi

    I am with Cathee and Glyn as well. I know you were totally having the heebee-geebees, but I was laughing at your recounting of the episodes. You have read The Princess Bride, haven’t you? I love the movie, but the back stories are so rich. May there be only real shoelaces and no more nests.

  • KIM

    Bravo for the ROUSs reference. Please know that I was totally enthralled in your blog posting and almost screamed out loud when my dog came in the room and sniffed me! Thankfully I realized mice aren’t that tall and they’re not contagious. I think. May you have no reason to admonish your tardy cats or make use of your wok lid in the future!

  • Brenda

    If your cats are falling down on the job, let me suggest an owl. I hear they make great pets but are like eternal babies and you don’t need a 5th one of those!

  • http://mommamindy.blogspot.com Momma Mindy

    When we lived in Kansas, we had mice, pack rats and oppossums trying to share living space with us in our trailer in the country.

    When we moved to a farm in North Dakota, I was thrilled to be battling only mice.

    When we moved to the PNW, I was even more relieved to discover no mice. After a few months, I realized there were rats who lives under my hot tub and in my woodpile.

    I know very well that shivery feeling when you see a flash of fur and a tail! EEEEWWWW!

  • http://drgtjustwondering.blogspot.com Diana Trautwein

    This.was.hilarious! And man, can I relate. We did call an exterminator in one house after seeing what we thought were mice – turned out to be Norwegian rats – small and dark and FAST. What’s really fun is if one dies in the the space between the walls. Now that’s a joy for several days running. Bleargh. So sorry – but so glad to have this giggle tonight.

  • Tiffany Werner

    Oh, Kimberlee, I’m sorry but this is just plain hilarious (except that it happened to my dear friend and not a stranger-blogger). It makes me remember those days of living in New York City, flipping on the bathroom light in the middle of the night and watching a cockroach run like mad back into the wall. Jon used to say, “If you see one, there’s a hundred more where they came from.” Ew.

  • http://www.teagirlworld.blogspot.com Amy

    You had me laughing and my heart beating as if I was there the whole way through your story. The power of those little critters astounds me. The power of your words~thankfully, even more.

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  • http://simplydarlene.wordpress.com Simply Darlene

    Oh my land. I think we are related. It gives me the willies so bad to think about where they traipsed in the night that I’d rather stomp ‘em barefooted than find mouse turdlets on the counter. Stompo-whammo-deado!

    Don’t forget to saline spray everyone’s nostrils to ward off the H.virus. ;-)

    Wait till one runs up your pant leg whilst driving the car along the highway. That’s a hoot.

    Blessings.

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