Our campaign to eradicate the invader of our home began with Mary going to the local armory (otherwise known as ACE HARDWARE ) to load up on the necessary supplies. According to the ACE man all we needed was a supply of little bitty mouse traps for a little bitty mouse. He loaded her up with six of the gadgets that were guaranteed to smite the critter or whack the tips of your fingers off if you weren’t careful. He assured her that the bazooka and flamethrower she asked for was a bit of overkill in this particular instance.
Once home we again went over the plan of action. First order of business was to figure out where to set or guaranteed mouse eradicater traps. After lengthy debate that included a powerpoint presentation, indelible markers on charts with arrows pointing every which way, and an actual “X” to mark the chosen spots where we planned to ambush the unsuspecting rodent, we turned our attention to learning how to arm our arsenal. The “ACE helpful hardware man” had shown Mary how to set the traps, but he was, of course, an old and highly experienced hand at this. He made it look so easy. Mary should have noticed that he was without 3 fingers on his left and most vulnerable hand. That might have given us pause as we prepared for the scary task we thought would be so easy.
We are reasonably intelligent people generally capable of following directions. But the printed instructions on the packaging were indecipherable to nonUrdu speaking mouse hunters. The drawings that illustrated the printed instructions were smudged beyond comprehension and appeared to be created by a gang of monkeys wielding crayons.
No matter how I manipulated the supposedly simple-to-use gadget, I couldn’t for the life of me figure out how to bait the trap and get it armed with that little bar that went over the killing bar and into the slot on the other side where the irresistible morsel of peanut butter (low fat peanut butter, of course. We reasoned that if the intrepid mouse somehow defeated the trap and walked away unharmed, we didn’t want to be responsible for his getting fat and having high cholesterol) beckoned our unloved and unwanted guest. After my blood pressure spiked to 220/109 I gave in and did what no real man would ever do. I asked for help.
We are very lucky to have moved into a condo next door to a real live testosterol oozing manly man whose middle initials are DIY. He was clearly nearly orgasmic at being asked to show me how those damn traps are supposed to go together. His nimble fingers made short work of arming our weaponry. But then he ignored the well laid plans that we had worked so hard on. He ignored the arrows and all the meticulously drawn and placed “X”s when he showed me were HE would put the traps to provide maximum killing power. Of course, my suggested placement was totally wrong and couldn’t possibly yield a single rodent. I shed my pride and did it his way. I simply planned to change the traps back to their proper place according to my plan once he left. Egos are fragile things and I had sublimated my substantial ego when I asked him for help. There is only so much ego bashing that I can be expected to tolerate.
The vexing thing that has us worried is that a long lasting war with a legion of mice has just begun. Everyone says, that “where there is one there are a hundred more.” His invasion was only a recon sortie. What our little innocent looking, even cute ball of fur was looking for was the right hidey hole for his extended family and friends. Well, bring ‘em on. I can still go back and get that bazooka and flamethrower. We would have to wait until the morning hours to determine the effectiveness of our battle plan. I was reasonably confident that the little would-be hero of his cohort would meet his demise sometime in the wee hours of the night. Mary claimed to hear him skittering around, opening doors and staking his claim. She was doing the hallucinating now. I had to constantly reassure her that we would be rid of him in no time, and that she didn’t have to take that machete to bed with her. Her apprehension was like a fog that permeated the condo. With such an atmosphere tainting our existence, I, with my perverse sense of humor, couldn’t be expected to ignore the opportunity to scare the living hell out of her while in her fragile state of mind. I know I’m taking one more giant step toward the hell she claims I deserve for all those other transgressions she has jotted down in her “Bob’s Behavior Book and Compendium of Sins. But it was just too easy a setup for me to not take advantage of it, too obvious, despite the major sin that would be jotted down in her book, for me to pass up.
It went like this: You know that lint that accumulates in your clothes dryer vent that you’re supposed to clean out periodically? A little ball of that lint bears a remarkable resemblance to a little mouse. You know where I’m going with this. I hurried up the stairs from the downstairs battle ground, urgently calling to her to “Look what I got!”
I didn’t get to within ten feet of her before she spotted the erzatz “mouse” in my hand.
The fire works were spectacular. I had no idea she could jump so far or screech that loudly. She was hyperventilating while the screams continued unabated. She was hurling epithets and condemning me to that special place in hell reserved just for me.
I calmly asked what she was getting so excited about. I showed her the ball of lint in my hand and told her I was just showing her that I cleaned the dryer vent as I had promised her I would do one of these days. Mary was not amused. And when Mary is not amused I can expect some difficulty getting back into her good graces. I’m still working on that and suspect it will take a bit more time. But it was worth it.
Morning arrived. Mary refused to get out of bed until I had inspected the traps. I ventured into the basement hoping that there would be a casualty to remove. My hopes were rewarded. The daring little critter met his demise in the trap set behind a stack of boards. He just couldn’t resist the peanut butter. I know that I will never eat peanut butter again without thinking of that intrepid little rodent.