Monday, January 09, 2006

My mother, the mouse-killer

So I saw a thing about a flaming mouse burning a guy's house down over on HorrorTalk's forum today, and it reminded me of a funny story.

Several years ago, my parents' house had a mouse problem. There was apparently a hole in a wall somewhere, and in came the mice.

One night, we're sitting in the living room watching TV, and I was probably sitting too close as usual, because I could see into the dining room, and I swore that, in the dark, I saw something run across the floor.

(This must have been pre-cat, and definitely pre-dog. That'd make me 13, maybe?)

Nobody believed me, of course.

Until we came back from a vacation and found mouse poop all over everything in the kitchen. It's a good thing my parents don't swear. Because they had to hand-clean just about every utensil in the house - they wouldn't even let me touch them because they were so overprotective about contaminents. (I figure most parents would've made the kid wash them, but I dunno.)

So my mother gets a mousetrap and some peanut butter (which the guy at the hardware store said worked better than cheese).

Sure enough, next day, under the kitchen sink, there's a little field mouse, just obliterated by this trap.


But another mouse got in (my parents hadn't found the hole in the wall yet).

And Mom got another trap.

This time, when she went downstairs in the morning... no mouse.

And no trap.

She found the trap on the other side of the cupboard, a good two feet from where she'd left it.

It looked like (I'm no forensic pathologist, but still) the mouse had reached for the peanut butter and gotten nailed, because the trap was up against something, and the mouse was essentially dangling by one arm, dead. It dragged its little mouse butt across the cupboard before apparently bleeding to death.

Needless to say, this traumatized my very kind, gentle mother. (Who, unlike Dad, was willing to set the traps, and unlike me, was willing to throw out the mice.)

So she bought one of those glue traps.

And I said to her, you know, you're going to go downstairs in the morning and the mouse is going to be stuck to the trap, looking up at you, really pissed off. (Well, I probably didn't say "pissed off" if I was that young.)

So she put the trap in a paper bag. Smartest move of the whole thing.

Morning comes, quick glance into bag, then fold it up and straight to the trash.

I think she bagged five mice before somebody (some contractor, no doubt, called in desperation) found the hole in the external wall and filled it in.

Years later, in my first apartment, I'm lying there at night, watching TV, and I swear I hear something crunching in my kitchen.

This goes on a couple of nights, and I can't figure out what it is. I look in the cupboards and stuff and there's no food or anything.

Until I find some dog food (the hard kind) that must've fallen out of a bag behind the sink or whatever. I dustbuster it, thinking, "wonder what made that noise?"

(The dog had gone off to live with my parents.)

The next night, I'm eating something, I get done, I go to put the dish in the dishwasher and, I shit you not, there's a mouse in the bottom of the dishwasher, looking up at me.

I slammed the door of the dishwasher, and my first instinct was to turn the thing on.

I'm glad I didn't. It probably would've obliterated the little bugger all over my dishes.

The next morning, needless to say, I called the landlord about fixing my mouse problem. That's what landlords are for, right?

Besides, Mom was busy.

The house mouse - we had gray ones
Mouse diseases
Mouse traps, with instructions
Peanut butter lovers

And if you're wondering, yeah, I kind of would have liked to have seen what Morgan would have done, face-to-face with a mouse. Though I'd be afraid of rabies or whatever. I'm pretty sure it would've been dachshund 1, mouse 0, and a smiling puppy running up with tail wagging and a mouse dangling from his mouth. After all, they're bred for hunting small rodents.

Plus, I once saw my drama director's cat (an outdoor cat, unlike my parents') actually barf up an entire field mouse once. We're sitting on her porch, talking (I was interviewing her for the paper) and suddenly the cat meanders up, hacks a couple of times, and spews out the mouse, head to tail - you could even tell what it was from the shape and the fur.