Tuesday, August 31, 2010

The Clock Struck One...

Isn't he cute?

I’m curious why in our folkloric past we fondly sing of rodents. Three blind mice, Three blind mice…Hickory Dickory Dock, The mouse ran up the clock… And who can forget the adorable Jerry, constantly trying to escape that idiot cat Tom? Why he’s so cute it makes every child yearn for pet mouse, one that can slam doors and throw frying pans. More recently, Disney Pixar comes out with a fabulous animated flick of a rat trying to make a living in the fancy kitchens of France. (I think.) Rats are just mice on steroids, and you’ll forgive me for lumping them together. A rodent is a rodent is a rodent, especially one in the kitchen. I honestly can’t say I’ve seen Ratatouille start to finish because I can’t get past the idea that there is a warm blooded, hairy beast in a kitchen, who sits inside some nerd’s sweaty chef hat yanking on his hair. All I’m thinking is that it must really smell in that hat, that gross greasy head smell, and that now there’s rat poop all on top that guy's head, because honestly that rat is up there cooking up “specialties” for hours. We all know that rodents poop as often and profusely as their whiskers twitch, and well, while Pixar is nice enough to leave out these realistic tidbits, my mind won’t let them go. I’m a realist and a germaphobe. You can’t fool me. I will not be deceived.

But there’s nothing cute about rodents in the kitchen, nothing funny about it whatsoever and I can tell you how I know.

Last Thursday night, my family, my in-laws, my sister-in law, my brother in-law, (yes that’s all of them) and my son’s friend, arrived home at 9:30 p.m. after five days at a cabin in Maine. We were all exhausted, the house was filled with suitcases, bins of kitchen items, dirty beach towels, wet water toys,…you name it, it was littering all rooms of the house and down the hallway. A few of the adults were in the kitchen, emptying the clean dishwasher, when my BIL pulls down a canning jar that I keep in my lower cabinets next to the toaster.

It had a tiny piece of mouse poop on it.
He shows it to me and my husband, and we go, “Hmmm. That’s interesting. I wonder how that got there.”
And then my BIL pulls out more canning jars. And we find more poop. And now I’m not going, “Hmmm,” but “WTH?....”
And then he pulls out the toaster.
(You may want to put down any food you may be eating right now.)
And we look inside the toaster. And the bottom of the toaster is covered in mouse poop.
Covered. Like twenty five mice sat inside my toaster and had a pooping contest, seeing how much excrement they could push out and high fiving each other while doing the deed. And now I’m thinking:
“When’s the last time I made toast?”
Seriously,  how many of you look inside the toaster each time you plunk bread in it? You just take it for granted that the toaster is clean. I know I did. But I'm staring at what seems like four tablespoons of crap and I'm wondering: Is all this poop the result of days or months of rodent activity, or did the mice know we were on vacation in Maine and suddenly run through my cupboards with wild abandon? Is it possible for mice to poop that much in five days? I sure as hell hope it is. Because if it isn’t, my whole family has been eating Ego waffles and bagels smoked with fecal matter.
(Hang on a minute…my mouth is salivating and I think I may lose it…)

Well, needless to say the next hour or so was spent emptying out cupboards and searching for small, black, rodent droppings. Yep, found in three cupboards. Above the stove. In the stove drawer. No doubt behind the stove and in the lazy susan I refuse to use, and now for good reason.

I’m tired. At this point in my day I’m barely keeping it together, lest I cry and sob right in front of all my inlaws. Not that they’d be shocked or anything, it’s just not a very adult thing to do. I put on my victim hat and wondered why these things always happen to me. Because these events do nothing to assuage my psychological germ-baggage and instead fuel them like lighter fluid on a barbeque. You thought I was crazy before? Honey, I’ll never toast another piece of bread anywhere without inspecting the insides of the device I’m using. You were embarrassed of me ordering at a restaurant previously? Wait till I ask them if there is mice defecation inside their toaster. These episodes continue to make living with me a brand new experience every day.

So what did we do? We laid traps of course. Little cheap, wooden mice traps in my kitchen cupboards and in the stove. Did we catch anything?

Well. Yes and no. You’ll have to wait until tomorrow for the rest of the story. It gets better. Trust me.