Sunday, November 26, 2006

The Great Mouse Trap, Pt. 1

In the grand tradition of shitty things happening on November 14, this year was no exception. Summarily, I lost my favorite ring down the sink in my bathroom at work, it still stung that The Fray had sold out Elliot Hall two days before (leaving me without tickets), and I discovered that I have a mouse cohabitating alongside me in my apartment.

Thanks a lot, Twenty-four... so far you've been a huge bitch.

It wasn't an expensive ring or anything, but I did like it a lot. And the thing is - I never even use the bathroom in my office. I check my hair sometimes in the mirror (a lot of good it does, too), but that's about it. I was eating lunch at my desk that day, and when I finished, I washed my hands. As I was drying them, my ring slipped off and fell square down the drain pipe - nothing but net. And since it's an old bathroom, the pipe runs directly straight into the floor... no curvy part to take apart and fish it out. I called the Physical Plant, and they said it was lost - to just forget about it. It really isn't a big deal, since it was inexpensive and had little sentimental value... but still. I've been wearing it for years, and my right hand feels strangely empty now.

I was reading a book on Tuesday evening trying to ignore my naked finger as I turned the pages, when I heard a strange scraping sound. I listened for a minute but quickly disregarded it - my building is very old and makes freaky, old-house noises. I heard it again a few minutes later and realized it wasn't a settling-house noise... it sounded like something running back and forth across a piece of tin or metal. My first thought was that it was a mouse, then I decided otherwise, reminding myself that I'm convinced every time I walk through the front door there's someone waiting in the shadows to kill me. I'm a little paranoid.

So I halfheartedly investigated... opened up some cabinets, moved some boxes around, checked the pots and pans. Nothing. I sat down at my dining room table and checked my e-mail. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the laptop cord move from the wall... I figured I bumped it with my feet. A second later, I saw something shimmying its way - head first - down the backside of my kitchen cabinets, and I realized the thing I thought was my laptop cord was the stinky tail of a nasty mouse climbing around my home. I did what all girls do when rodents are involved - I screamed a pitiful, high-pitched shriek and grabbed the largest item next to me at the moment: my GRE study guide book. In my head, I smiled at the irony... I thought of how many times I've wanted to throw that book against the wall, and how satisfying it might be to smack a mouse with it on its way. By this time it had disappeared, presumably into a crack in the wall where it convened with its tiny mouse friends and made fun of the big dumb girl who screamed like a big dumb baby.

Next, I did the only logical thing I could think to do: I retreated to my bedroom, closed the door, and sat Indian-style on the bed for 30 minutes. It was nearly midnight at this time. If I was living in a normal town, I would have immediately run out to the nearest 24-hour convenience store and picked up a few traps and maybe a man who knew how the hell to use them. But I live in Rensselaer. The entire town had been empty for about two hours; I was on my own.

Soon I realized that if I ever wanted to fall asleep that night, I was going to have to trap this thing and get it out of my home. I grabbed a flashlight and made my way to the kitchen, picking up a frying pan from the dish drainer. I opened up all the cabinets and shined the light in there, part of me hoping it would reflect off a beady, black eye, and another part of me nearly gagging with the thought of that actually happening. I went through all the cabinets that way: throw open the door, shine the light, poise the frying pan. Nothing. I stood in the center of the room, defeated, when I heard a noise by the stove. I tossed the flashlight and snatched up the tea kettle from one of the burners, and behind it was a gray mass of fur, four tiny feet, and a long, flesh-colored tail. I dropped the kettle and the mouse ran behind the microwave. The kettle fell on my foot, and I wanted to curl up right there and die... but if I did, I figured the mouse and his friends would probably feast on my decaying body - in my own home - and I couldn't have that.

I limped over to the microwave and shook it... I heard the mouse's little toes clicking across the counter, but I couldn't see it. I stepped back and scanned the area. Finally, I bent down to right the kettle. As I bent, I heard a scuffling noise and looked straight ahead... no more than two feet from my face, that creepy rodent was glaring at me, hunkering in a corner below one of the cabinets. I, of course, jumped back and screamed again, and it escaped. And I dropped the kettle on my foot again. The same foot, as my typical birthday luck would have it.

What did I think I was going to do? Somehow corner the thing and beat it mercilessly with the frying pan? I'm not a violent person... I didn't want to kill it, just wanted it not to be there any longer. And it was my favorite frying pan... no way was I going to let it touch that nasty thing.

I had to go to bed that night knowing there was a mouse - probably an army of them - making themselves comfortable in the walls of my home, perhaps scampering across my dishes and helping themselves to my food. I was certain I would wake up and one of them would be crawling across my face, getting tangled in my hair... I didn't sleep more than two hours collectively that night.

Tomorrow I'll post the conclusion... I'm getting a little jumpy all over again just remembering the little thing.

You can find parts 2 and 3 here and here, respectively.

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