Friday, November 9, 2012


A friend of ours called the other night and said he was watching TV when he suddenly saw four mice scurry across the living-room floor. He said he went right out and bought a bunch of baited traps and put them all over the house, but thus far, the traps have remained untouched.  The food in his pantry, however, hasn’t been quite so lucky.

Hearing about his mouse problem made me think back to when we had one, at our old place. It was about this time of year when I spotted the first sign of them, probably because they were looking for a nice warm place to spend the winter – kind of like people who head to Florida.

There were subtle signs at first. A few mouse droppings here and there – followed by more obvious signs, like piles of dog-biscuit crumbs lying next to piles of shredded paper and cloth. The final straw came when I pulled my velvet bathrobe out of the spare-room closet and noticed that the hem had been chewed off. That’s when I officially declared war.

The guy at the local hardware store showed me a variety of mouse-killing devices, all obviously invented by the Marquis de Sade.  They maimed, flattened, decapitated and crushed. I was surprised the clerk didn’t drag out a hungry cat in a cage and offer that to me, too.

In my opinion, the worst trap of all was the one that stuck the mice to a glue board.

“What do you do with the mouse once it’s stuck to the board?” I asked the clerk.

“Just toss it in the trash,” he said.

“But isn’t the mouse still alive?”

He shrugged. “Yeah, so what? He’ll die eventually.”

I’m no big fan of mice, but the thought some poor little mouse slowly dying while stuck to a board sounded downright barbaric. So I bought some traps that consisted of clear plastic tubes with a little trap door on one end. Put some bait into the trap, the clerk told me, and then the mice will go in and can’t get back out. And best of all, they remain unharmed.

“But there isn’t any air in these traps once they’re inside,” the clerk said, “so you have to let them loose within a couple hours.”

I brought the traps home, shoved a clump of peanut butter into each one and set them under the kitchen sink and in the spare-bedroom closet, where my chewed-up robe had been.

Within two hours, I caught five mice.

“Look how cute they are!” I said, showing one of the tubes to my husband. The mouse inside had huge black eyes and was still nibbling on the peanut butter, oblivious to the fact he was trapped and facing impending doom.

“Yeah, he’s just adorable,” my husband said, rolling his eyes. “Where are you going to let him loose?”

“I’ll drive a few miles from here and let him go in the woods.”

He looked relieved. “I would have bet you were going to let him loose right out back in the yard…or keep him as a pet.”

I must have driven 20 miles that day on the same back road through the woods, to let the mice loose.  I even caught a couple late at night, and because the clerk had said to set them free within two hours, I, in my pajamas, dutifully drove the rodents out to the woods. I could only imagine what a police officer would have thought if he’d have driven by and seen a woman in her pajamas bending over in the bushes in the middle of the night.

One mouse, a really teeny, young-looking one, didn’t want to leave the tube. When I finally managed to get him out, he sat on my foot and refused to budge. I came very close to bringing him back home with me…and naming him Mickey.

The only thing that prevented me from doing so was I figured Mickey probably would end up being Exhibit-A at my divorce trial.

When the traps finally remained empty for few days and no new evidence of mice showed up anywhere, I declared victory.

But a week later, we had a new problem…big black ants. They suddenly were everywhere, crawling all over the house, as if they’d arrived by the busload for a vacation.  When an ant fell off the ceiling one night and landed in my husband’s mashed potatoes while we were eating dinner, I once again declared war.

But this time, I wasn’t about to be Mrs. Nice Guy (not that I’d drive a bunch of ants out to the woods anyway). No, I went back to the hardware store and bought the aforementioned torturous glue boards.

Just call me Sally de Sade.

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