Monday, September 26, 2011

There's a mouse in the house

Long Suffering Spouse harbors no animus toward any living creature, so long as said creature stays out of her house.

Thus, we enjoyed watching a number of skunks parading through our backyard at dusk almost every evening during the summer months now ending. They were on that side of the sliding glass door; we were on this side. We have also seen possums and raccoons and coyotes in our backyard. A deer was supposedly spotted in a neighbor's backyard, just around the corner from us. We saw a fox one night, too, crossing the street in front of the local hospital. All of these observations were made within the corporate limits of the fair City of Chicago and all of these were just fine, thank you, with Long Suffering Spouse.

Long Suffering Spouse even defends the rights of spiders and ants and other creepy-crawlies to exist in their own sphere. When she was on playground duty recently at her school, she chided kids who were seeking out and stomping on spiders in the bushes by the school building. "Leave them alone," she scolded, "they have a right to be in their home undisturbed by us. Just as we have a right," she added, "to be left alone in our homes undisturbed by them."

The kids looked at her funny. She'd gotten so intense, all of a sudden, and was staring off into the distance.

But you see where my wife draws the line. And it is a bright line, admitting of no fine distinctions. A spider, an ant, or any other bug is toast if it comes within my bride's line of sight inside the confines of our home. If she sees a centipede, she will scream before dispatching it. If I am available, she will summon me to do the honors instead. Particularly if the centipede is fat and furry.

"And wipe the stain off the wall," my wife will call, from as far away as she can get and still stay in the house. Centipedes leave a distinctive purple smear when they are squished. And -- here I share my hard-won expertise with you -- they are best approached at a right angle. Coming in ahead or behind the creature will send it scurrying -- and some of them can jump -- but, for some reason, a centipede never detects the approach from directly above it (directly beneath it if it is on the ceiling) until it is too late.

As you would certainly expect, given this description, creatures larger than a centipede -- and most mice are larger than even some of the megacentipedes I've dispatched in our basement -- are absolutely intolerable to Long Suffering Spouse.

When we were first married, living in an apartment in Rogers Park, my wife and I had a mouse problem. We had a mouse population explosion, more like, with seemingly endless brigades of little field mice. But until we were married, and the then-not-yet Long Suffering Spouse moved into the apartment I formerly shared with my friend Steve, I had no idea we had any mice at all.

But Long Suffering Spouse knew instantly. She could sense them. She didn't have to see them to know they were there.

And, ever since, on those occasions every so many years when a mouse does get in the house, Long Suffering Spouse has known immediately. She gets unbelievably tense, and the tension is contagious, I assure you. And this is before the little varmint is actually sighted.

Except for this time.

I was home Thursday morning. I'd had an errand out at the Rolling Meadows Courthouse and I'd stopped home on the way in. (It's on the way. And traffic was still miserable heading inbound on the Kennedy.) I walked into the kitchen to get a glass of water... and out of the corner of my eye I thought I saw something tiny and dark dart from behind the wastebasket (the one we've dedicated to recycling) and scurry underneath the refrigerator.

I have glaucoma. The corner of my eye, particularly my left one, doesn't pick up as much as most people's eyes are supposed to. And I wasn't entirely sure I saw what I thought I saw.

So I said nothing.

Long Suffering Spouse was in the kitchen Friday night making pizza. Younger Daughter had come over, with her faithful chauffeur Olaf, to eat the pizza. Then, after Olaf was sent on his way (Younger Daughter having elected to stay the night so she'd be better positioned to go out to breakfast in the morning with her Abuela), Younger Daughter and Long Suffering Spouse made cookies. I figured my wife's keen mouse-sense would pick up on the little bugger if indeed it was there.

But nothing happened.

On Saturday Long Suffering Spouse and I went up to the place I'm calling South Janesville College to visit Youngest Son and see his baseball team perform in its annual fall intrasquad game. But on Sunday Long Suffering Spouse was back in the kitchen, making cupcakes this time, because Younger Daughter's birthday is tomorrow. Younger Daughter came over, with Olaf, and we all had a pleasant time.

And Long Suffering Spouse heard nothing, saw nothing, intuited nothing.

I'd begun to think I'd imagined that little blur on Thursday.

But, then, this morning, as I walked into the kitchen to refill my coffee, I saw it again. The same blur, going the same way, right under the refrigerator. I exclaimed something. I don't believe I screamed like a little girl, but even if I did, this is my blog and I don't have to admit anything. I think I said something, however, like Pshaw! or Fiddlesticks! or perhaps something slightly more pungent. Whatever I said was sufficient to attract the attention of Long Suffering Spouse. "What did you say?" she asked.

"We have a mouse."

"What?" The tension level in the house spiked. I could feel my wife's cringing from several feet away.

"We have a mouse," I repeated. I explained what I saw.

For the next half hour or so I was treated to a monolog about how the mouse might have gotten in. Younger Daughter was named as a suspect; perhaps she'd left the front door open too long over the weekend. My wife's theory, clearly, was that the mouse must be a brand new arrival. After all, she'd not perceived it. Finally I had to break down and confess: I thought I'd seen something Thursday.

She may, eventually, forgive me for not having told her sooner about this. In the meantime, however, there will be no peace in my home until that wee beastie is destroyed.

1 comment:

Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

get some of that sticky paper, they love it and can't get off it and there you go...

we once had a cat that liked them. would not chase them. ever. beneath him totally. but he did however quite enjoy watching them frolic.

smiles, bee