I. Hate. Mice.

Posted: January 13, 2011 in active neglect, childhood

I have mice in my house. Literal, physical, furry little rodents. And I hate them.

I have a hard time killing things. Once when I was little a daddy longlegs spider walked across the wall near me and I squished it, proudly displaying the mangled remains to my older brother.

“That wasn’t very nice. Now some poor spider doesn’t have a daddy,” he said.

He was joking, but I was traumatized, and ever since then, I avoid killing things – including bugs and spiders – unless they make the mistake of directly sauntering across my path when I’m not expecting it. The only exception to this rule is earwigs, which despite my best attempts, I cannot find as having any valuable place in the universe.

Over the years, though, I’ve become quite a connoisseur of killing mice. I don’t remember their being a mouse problem in my childhood house until the mid-1990s or so. After that, they came in droves. There was one period of time where my brother and I set two dozen traps at a time and emptied them daily…sometimes multiple times. Mice got into the walls. Into the cupboards. Into the ceiling. It was hard to sleep at night because of the sounds of mice chewing and scurrying through the walls right next to my bed. I’d wake up at night to find mice teeming on the floor of my room, and I can’t count the number of times something that was precious to me – photographs, mementoes from my father’s family – were lost to mouse nests. Mice chewed through the clothes in my dresser and closet indiscriminately, and there were lots of times I’d go to put on a pair of shoes and find a mouse nest (sometimes including the actual mouse) inside.

Of course, my parents’ response to this was to set out more traps (which my brother and I had to empty, because “they couldn’t stand it”) and complain about the mice. There was no thought to putting out poison because we had animals. When the mice started chewing holes through the floor, my brother went around the house spraying construction foam into the holes. Of course, nothing worked.

Mice in traps were one thing. Naturally dead mice were even worse. They popped up everywhere. I used to keep a pile of stuffed animals on a trunk in my room. Once went to move them all to get something from the trunk and discovered that a mouse had died on top of my favorite stuffed animal, a bunny that was given to me as an infant. This should say something about the general state of the house, that there was a dead mouse and no one even smelled it… I washed bunny, which shredded because it was so fragile. The fabric shards are still sitting in a ziplock bag in my garage somewhere.

The last time I tried to clean the house, the summer I was 17, I was working on the kitchen and inadvertently opened the oven (which hadn’t worked in several years) to find a dead mouse squished into the space between the door and the stovetop. When I pulled the door open, Mr. Mouse split into two pieces, and a shower of maggots fell out of his long-dead carcass. I closed the door, went outside and smoked the third or fourth cigarette I’d ever had in my life, went back inside and cleaned up the mess. Later that week my brother and I went to Home Depot and bought my mother a brand new stove. No one ever thanked us.

Flashforward to my current house, and I pride myself on keeping it clean. I welcome visits from the landlords because they inevitably culminate with end of the year Christmas cards that say things like “thanks for being such great tenants!” So when I noticed tell-tale mouse signs in my pantry a few weeks ago, I went on the warpath. Mice do not escape from me, and after killing three of them and thoroughly scrubbing the pantry, I complained to boyfriend that perhaps it was time to call an exterminator. We’ve lived in this house for four years, and never a mouse before this. Something has changed. I want the situation remedied. Boyfriend thought it was just a fluke and suggested we wait.

Then, this past Sunday, we were sitting in bed watching TV at the end of the day when the cat started going nuts. My cat used to be an excellent mouser, back in his outside days, but since he’s become an exclusively indoor kitty, his mouse-chasing consists of shiny fabric covered toy mice in pretty colors. I knew something was up, and it was then that the little mouse head popped out from under a chair, scurried into the closet, and disappeared.

Now do you think we need the professionals?” I asked, glaring at boyfriend as I handed him a peanut butter and cat food-laced mouse trap (the ultimate combination for quick kills, I’ve discovered).

He mumbled something about calling the landlords and slunk off into the closet to pull dressers away from the walls. When the trap snapped a few minutes later, he emerged triumphantly with a convulsing mouse still writhing on the end of the wooden block. I felt a tiny twinge of guilt…quickly overshadowed by irritation that I couldn’t call the landlords until the next morning.

The exterminator is coming today to find the source of the mouse invasion and put a stop to it. Boyfriend is taking the day off work to oversee this, and I admit to being a little irritated that I can’t be there myself to witness the expert in action. Mostly I feel relief that the situation is taken care of, and reassurrance that I’m nothing like my parents.

…especially when I realize that the thought of calling an exterminator to deal with the problem never would have occurred to them in the first place.

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