I loathe mice. Loathe them. More embarrassingly, I’m afraid of them. I think it’s the surprise of the scurry factor – a startle and a cringe. Since they arrive each year about this time, I’ve come a long way. A long time ago, I lived in a rental house that had a mouse. A mouse so brazen, he or she would pop its head up from the burner, saunter across the counter and dip into the dishwater for a drink – the same dishwater that I’d had my hands in nanoseconds before. I was so unnerved by this mouse that I moved into a motel until The Ex could offer proof the evil creature was dead.
I would prefer to have snakes in the house over mice. Snakes are cool and they eat mice. The brief period of time I did have a snake camping out in my home, the vermin problem was nonexistent. Worse than mice are squirrels. Those creatures are nothing but big mice with a flamboyant tail and damaging incisors.
I’ve had squirrels in the house. I found pockets of acorn stash here and there. It took quite a bit of money and perseverance to evict the squirrels. I was pert near ready for the insane asylum by the time that problem got solved. To my credit, I guess, I did not move into a motel. Like I said, I’ve come a long way.
There was the summer of the possum that wanted to sashay about my family room. I put an end to that pretty quickly. And then there was Willy’s Toad. I wasn’t fond of the toad either – that startle factor again.
Yes, I do have cats. But they’re decorator cats good for nothing but draping themselves across the furniture and looking good. It would no more occur to them to chase the mouse, bite the mouse, kill the mouse, eat the mouse than it does to me.
Me? I put out rat poison in ramekins strategically placed. It works like a charm. It should be just the matter of a day or so before my new tenant is no longer with me. I used to catch and release them, but then I discovered it was less than 12 hours before they were back in the house. Now I kill the suckers. I’m not generally a poison kind of person, but I do, yes I do, loathe mice.
Life in the barn can be exciting given that I live in the midst of a forest. All kinds of creatures lurk about. The barn is a little more airtight than it used to be, but there are still lots of nooks and crannies where they can get in. However, it’s ever so much better than it was The Night of the Bat.
Picture this: I’m lying in bed next to The Ex in that peaceful nirvana between wide awake and deep sleep. It’s been a brutally hot day. But now it’s midnight and the unairconditioned house is cooling off. To call it a house is a ridiculous overstatement. At that point, the barn was still very much a barn. We had walls upstairs, but the only room with a door was the bathroom. Bear that in mind, it’s important.
I do what any sane person would do. I brushed it off, leapt out of bed while shrieking while something, later established as a bat, darted and swooped about the bedroom. The Ex was a light sleeper, but even if he wasn’t, my screaming would have easily woken him.
Chef Boy ‘R Mine was a wee thing and I woke him with banshee cries. I did what any mother would do, I took off at run, snatched the kid out of the crib, and made a run for the bathroom. The last glimpse I had of The Ex was he, completely nude, running about the bedroom with a tennis racquet. I have no idea why we had a tennis racquet in the bedroom. (But a few years later, he would use the same racquet to stand in the yard, swinging it to and fro, muttering Cicada Anyone? as we suffered through the 17 year locusts. I’m not sure the racquet was ever used for its intended purpose.)
I cowered in the bathroom cradling the now crying child. Through the door we could hear The Ex yell, “Die you [expletive deleted], die!” and the sound of the racquet slamming against walls, floors, furniture. The battle raged for quite a while. Both the child and I calmed down. We sat there in companionable silence listening to the mayhem, curses, and racquet whacks. Occasionally, we startled at a particularly forceful whack.
Finally, there was silence. I heard The Ex go down the stairs. I heard him come up the stairs. I heard some scraping. “It’s dead, you can come out now.” And there he was: naked, sweaty, flustered, a little disoriented and holding a dustpan with a dead bat in it.
I’ve learned an appreciation of bats since then and feel bad that this one ended up dead. While working at the university, I often shared my office with a lost bat. The maintenance crew would come and shoo it out and I would go back to working alone. I’ve come a long way. I’m glad there’s not a bat in my house, but I really loathe mice. Those suckers are going to die and I will show no remorse.