If you’re freaking out and you know it …

This time last week I arrived home from an afternoon at the wading pool to discover … ah … well, here’s how I described in a text message to P:

this_is_not_a_chippie

A chipmunk! I am sure they are no less flea-and-mite-infested than any other semi-wild rodent, but aw, you guys, the stripe. Two years ago, my mom tried to tell me a story about how a psychotically destructive chipmunk practically bored its way through her solid stone front steps and the best I could come up with by way of response was, “You should have distracted him with peanuts! He’d have put them in his little cheekers!”

Mouse in house not exactly as shown.
Mouse in house not exactly as shown.

At this point it might be worth it to remind you that I am not unacquainted with Urban Rodentia. I know that they’re not all adorable. Ever seen a mangy squirrel with a denuded tail? *shudders*

But chipmunks I put in a class of unique cuteness, and I was willing to cohabit with this fella, I honestly was, until I encountered him the next morning, under the kitchen sink.

No stripe.

No bushy little tail.

You see where this is going, right?

I should have known when we were all playing in the living room and my son excitedly pointed to the front porch and said that he’d seen “a mousie.” I grilled him as non-directedly as I could, and gritted my teeth when he got to the point where he described it’s colour: “It was kind of a smokey-brown, Mama.” Yeah, that is not a random observation, even for a kid who knows a dozen or more car logos.

I REALLY should have known when I started to hear noises in the kitchen (a tip for anyone considering buying a refrigerator with a built-in ice-maker: turns out that ice-making sounds exactly like mice, which I guess is not a big deal, unless you actually have mice, in which case you should consider taking your tap water lukewarm, or burning your house to the ground.)

And yes, if you have mouse, you have mice. I don’t even know why there is a non-plural version of the word.

Maybe an hour after that I saw what I hoped was (but probably wasn’t) the same mouse scurry up a wall. UP A WALL. It was an exposed brick wall, but still — that’s some crazy gravity-defying shit. Perhaps s/he was inspired by the spirited applause I produced the second I saw it.

WHY was I applauding? Well, the explanation I prefer is that I was just being an attentive and reassuring parent — not wanting to scream and freak out the kids — but I swear in that moment I was mostly convinced that if I could just clap hard enough, maybe the mouse would sense my anxiety, take pity on me and abandon its guaranteed food source.

Instead, s/he told her/his mouse buddies. I imagine the conversation went something like this:

Mouse #1: What the hell was that racket?
Mouse #2: OMG YOU GUYS. So I was running up the wall right beside the stove and the human starts, like, CLAPPING AT ME. It was so funny. You had to be there.
Mouse #1: ROAD TRIP!

This whole time I’m in escalatingly panicked contact with P, who is doing his best to reassure me that the mice are largely limited to the front porch, where we had absentmindedly left a not-totally-empty bird feeder sitting on the floor. I was trying to stay focused on the logical explanations that we knew why they came inside the porch (bird seed) and how they got inside the house (through a door we keep open whenever it’s cool, for the cross-breeze). But knowing the why and how didn’t get rid of them.

Through this, my Facebook friends were awesome. They told me about their own mice problems. And their spider/lizard/cougar/coyote/bear problems. About that time one of them went swimming with a manatee and jumped out of the water terrified, in the moment, of Nature’s Gentlest Creature(TM). My ability to laugh was a testament to how funny they all are, because nothing about my own situation was funny, not even the mouse conversations I continued to construct, largely against my will, long into the night.

And P … there just aren’t enough words to express how amazing he was through all this. Took us out to dinner so that I didn’t have to spend another minute in the kitchen and stayed up all night “managing the situation” which is a euphemistic way of saying “dispatched three mice.” Euphemism is the best I can offer as he has gracious spared me all the details, except one — that a neighbourhood cat was alerted to the goings-on and joined him at one point, on the other side of the porch’s screen door, fairly salivating at the prospect of being conscripted to help. Which went a long way to (not) cure P of his steadfast believe that all cats are assholes.

Since that night — and since P sealed up the likely points of entry *into* the front porch — there has been no sign or sound of mouse, which is a relief. A relief on the same order as seeing the desired result on a pregnancy test, with the exception that this is one time when “Phew! Free and clear!” and “Woo-hoo! Mission accomplished!” both apply.

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