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Friday, April 18, 2008

My Life as Lucy Ricardo # VIII: The Mouse

In a previous “Lucy” episode, I described my encounter with a really big, ill-intentioned spider. It wasn’t my only bad experience with a creepy crawly.

Back when I was a young divorced woman with a toddler son, I lived in a little rental house next to a field. Newspaper reporters there didn’t get paid much, so we were definitely in a modest neighborhood. Much to my distress, I’d discovered evidence that Alex and I weren’t alone in our little house. I was pretty sure that at least one mouse had moved in from the adjacent field. And the critter wasn’t even paying rent.

I asked around the newsroom what to do. Traps were out of the question with a curious toddler in the house. One of the guys said he could put poison traps in safe places such as behind the washing machine and, as a father himself, he’d make sure the positioning was completely child-safe. I warned him that the last thing I wanted was to run into a dead mouse. He assured me that the beastie would go back into the field and die peacefully with his mouse family. Silly me. I believed him.

One winter evening I arrived home, unbundled little Alex and went to the closet in the junk room to put up our coats. As I opened the closet door, I was surprised that it stuck about halfway open. Must be the weather or simply the sloppy workmanship in the rent-a-dump. I closed the door. I pulled it open again. It stuck again. And that’s when I looked down and discovered that the sticking point was a mouse corpse. EeeeYuck!

I fled the room, slamming the door behind me. Grabbed Alex, took him to his baby bed, gave him toys, and then closed that door. I can only imagine in retrospect that I thought the mouse was going to rise from the dead and get us. I paced the living room for a couple of minutes to summon up my courage, then decided to face the situation like a woman.

Fortified with a broom and dustpan, I re-entered the junk room, this time leaving the door wide open for a fast getaway. The dead mouse was still there. The closet door still had him pinned down. I pushed the closet door off of him which, of course, made the body jump and made me yell. I wasn’t feeling too good. I can face down all kinds of demons and problems – but not critters. I put the dustpan next to him. My plan was to use the broom to scoot him onto the dustpan, then I’d just dispose of him in the outdoor trashcan. Easy for you to say.

I backed away from the mouse and dustpan, holding the broom by the very end of its handle, and took a golf stroke at the not-so-dearly departed. Well, you see, rigor mortis had set in, and my swipe only made him stiffly plop over with his little legs pointed up at the ceiling. I ran from the room again. I regained my composure, retried the same strategy, and got the same result. Now I was the one who was stuck.

Pacing in the living room again seemed like a good idea while I tried to figure out a solution. Clearly, I could not manage mouse disposal. Just couldn’t. So the question I asked myself was “Who can I call to get rid of the mouse who won’t kid me about this forever?” It was the last part of the question that was giving me trouble.

It had only been a few months back in the summer when I’d arrived home to find an oversized grasshopper lurking atop the window air conditioner in Alex’s room. I had reason to scoop up the kiddo and slam the door shut that time. After pondering my alternatives, I called my mother to see what she and my step-dad were doing. Fortunately, he had three daughters of his own so he patiently agreed, and they drove the 20 minutes to my place to get rid of the grasshopper.

The guys in the newsroom razzed me a lot about having the former county sheriff dispose of my grasshopper. That incident seemed to drastically reduce my list of possibilities for getting rescued this time. Except . . .

I remembered seeing a L'eggs truck parked regularly in the driveway next door and a fellow going into that house. I didn’t know him anyway, so I didn’t care what he thought of me and, since we didn’t know each other, he couldn’t possibly shame me about my cowardice. I checked on little Alex who was blissfully unaware of the drama in the next room, then I marched across the yard and knocked on the neighbor’s door.

“You don’t know me, but I live next door and I’ve got this little situation,” I told him when he opened the door. He reluctantly asked what that might be, and I had to tell him about the dead mouse and my inability to get rid of it. There was silence for a moment or two. He might have been looking for the hidden camera. Then he replied, “Do you have paper towels?” Yes! Home run.

He followed me next door; I fetched the paper towels; and I pointed from the junk room door to the location of the body. It didn’t even occur to me to be embarrassed that a stranger was looking at my junk room. The L'eggs truck driver looked pretty much like the Lone Ranger to me at the moment.

He scooped up the dead, cold mouse and I ran ahead of him to open the front door thanking him repeatedly on the way. Out he strode into the night. I saw him a time or two after that when we were coming or going from our driveways. Oddly, he never spoke or made eye contact.


Willow Goldentree said...

HAHAHA! Oh, that is too funny. That story had me shrieking in fear with you and laughing in the end. Thanks :)

Zehr_Family said...

This was too funny! The picture of you shrieking and running from the dead rodent, will be with me for long to come. I too hate the creepy crawly things but somehow I could have managed to scoop the corpse into the dust pan and run with it to the outside trash recepticle, only cause I have had to do that once or twice before. One time I had to kill the thing before I could scoop and run....should have seen my hitting it with the broom several times while shrieking at the top of my lungs....LOL!!

Scarlett said...

Kristi, you're a braver woman than I! Remember that I once left the house overnight because of a large spider.

Did you and Willow notice that I actually found a photo (Alex in the car) that shows the L'eggs truck in the background? The other photo was taken in the newsroom.

Willow Goldentree said...

Oh how funny! hehe!

Zehr_Family said...

Yes I did see that and was thinking what a cutie he was at that age. I remember him just like that!!