Monday, June 18, 2007

Of Mice and Men




Ooooh! YUCK!!! My skin is still crawling…

About an hour ago, I went to cook up some burgers on my gas grill. When I opened the lid, two beady little eyes looked up from the under the grates. It seems a mouse has built a nest under the burners and is now raising her three tiny, hairless, babies there. Part of me wanted to jab them with a broomstick, part of me wanted to turn the propane jets on high, light a match and incinerate them. In the end I did what any other self-respecting man would do…I ran and got my wife to take care of it. (After all, it is Father’s Day, you know!)

If truth be told, I suffer from a debilitating condition known as “Musophobia” or fear of mice; a fact that my wife discovered very early on in our relationship. One night, when we were watching TV at my mother’s house, she fell asleep on the couch. Being the gentleman that I am, I covered her with a blanket, and then sat down on an adjoining love seat. Out of the corner of my eye, I spotted a mouse scurrying across the shag carpet and then leap onto the blanket that was covering my wife (then girlfriend).

“MOUSE!!!” I screamed, now standing on the love seat, much like a clichĂ© sitcom housewife.

“WHAT? WHAT? WHAT?” My freshly awoken love screamed back, now following my lead and dancing on the couch, but not sure why.

“A MOUSE!!!” I screamed again.

“You’re flipping out over a mouse?” She asked.

“Well yeah,” I said, now climbing down from my perch atop the love seat, trying to salvage any bit of manhood I had left.

“You almost gave me a heart attack!” She said.

“But it was A MOUSE!!!”

To understand the roots of my anxieties, we must revisit my childhood.

I grew up in an old, drafty house, just steps away from the railroad tracks that I now travel on every day. My mother’s house was built sometime during the Lincoln administration, long before the advent of electricity and home insulation. I believe Edison himself finally wired the house, but no one ever thought to insulate the walls. This, in turn, made the home a haven for mice trying to escape the wrath of cold New England winters.

After my father died, his mother (my “Nana”) came to live with us for a short period of time. She was close to 80 years old, walked with a cane and was then suffering from the early stages of dementia. I was only about four years old, but I do remember her living with us. It was also about this time that my first encounter with a mouse home invasion occurred.

We were all sitting around the TV room watching Ed Sullivan, when one of my sisters spotted a mouse. “MOUSE!” She cried. Everyone in the house jumped up on the nearest chair, table, couch etc. The rodent was undoubtedly as frightened as we were and scurried along the baseboard and finally disappeared into the kitchen. My Nana, enlivened by my sister’s screams, somehow got out of her chair, grabbed a broomstick and chased the rodent around the kitchen till she had it cornered. She then mercilessly beat it to a bloody pulp. To add insult to injury, she picked the mouse up by its tail, turned the hot tap water on and slowly scalded it death. It was as if she were torturing it to set an example for other mice in the house. She wasn’t done yet. As a final insult, she took the mouse and flushed it down the toilet. I can still picture its furry little body, spinning counter-clock wise into the porcelain abyss. I don’t know who was more traumatized…the mouse or me. I’m guessing it was me!

My brother Jimmy said he once saw my Nana snatch a mouse that was hanging from curtain and then squish in her bare hands till the blood spurted from it's eyes. The woman was a true mouse-nazi.


When my kids were little, my wife and I took them to Story Land Amusement Park in Glen, New Hampshire. We stayed in the local Story Land Best Western Motel. Sometime during the night I heard the sound of gnashing coming from the motel room closet. It was there that we stored the kid’s snacks, so we knew it was a mouse. My wife must have forgotten the lesson she learned early in our courtship, because she wanted me to go investigate. I called the front desk instead.

Me: Yeah, um hi! This is the family in room 212. I hear noises coming from inside the closet and I think we might have a mouse. Um… I was wondering…could you send someone over?

Manager: Sir, you’re in the country now. These things are to be expected. We’ll send somebody over in the morning.

Me: Um, ah, hold on. Is it possible that you could move us to another room?

Manager: Sir, it’s 3AM on a holiday weekend. We don’t have any more rooms available.

Me: Um…Ah!

Manager: Click!

My wife called me a few choice names, opened the closet door, found the mouse hanging from my favorite fleece jacket, opened the motel room door, threw my jacket (with mouse attached) out into the parking lot and slammed the door shut.

“You want your jacket,” she said. “Go get it!

My hero!

Back to the gas grill incident. I really tried to be a man today…honest! I poked the cast iron grill housing with a broomstick in hopes that the mouse would fear me, as much as I feared it, and maybe it would run for safety. I even removed one of the grates, but then the mouse looked me straight in the eye and that was it…I was done. I ran inside.

My wife came out and began to disassemble the grill and found three little hairless babies inside the nest. She said she tried to put herself in the place of mama mouse and pictured a Giant lifting the roof of our house and poking us with a broomstick (sounds like spooky Twilight Zone stuff to me). She then left the mice where they were and closed the lid.

“Don’t stay too long mama,” she said. “Summers here and we have some grilling to do.”

I say let them keep the grill. I don’t think I can stomach using it again anyway.

15 comments:

Tony Alva said...

GREAT story Bobby! Hope you had a fantastic Dad's Day, I did. My older brother was the mouse phobe. I was a little bit more courageous. I once took a slapshot with a squirrel who had forced my brother up onto his bed one night. The poor thing was stupid enough to scurry across the one spot that I could wind up with my stick in our hall way.

I’d definitely have to scrub that grill for about eight hours before using it again.

renthead said...

I know how you feel. I have a fear of moths, caterpillars and butterflies. My friends love to torture me about it. The other day we were eating lunch, and my friend picked up a feather that looked like a moth, and shoved it in my face. Thinking it was real, I screamed, flinging Teddy Grahams across the room. It was a two for one embarassment.

motherof3guys said...

I'll call your wife next time I need the mouse police. My mouse story involves husband out of town, neighbor coming over to help me, and the ensuing chase around the kitchen with a net to catch the mouse. We tore that kitchen up (baseboards and all) to try to "catch that mouse." Everytime the neighbor would say, are you ready with the net?...I'd say "yeah, I'm ready. I can to it this time." Everytime he would rustle the mouse out, I would drop the net, jump on the nearest furniture, and scream. I was hysterically laughing (probably due to fear) after each attempt, and we finally had to place the mouse trap under the sink. We eventually caught the little devil but it was pretty funny thinking back to how many attempts the neighbor tried and I failed. You would have thought he would have figured out that I was unqualified to be the net mouse catcher!!
PS don't ask why we were using a net to catch a mouse....We obviously have not experience in mouse catching!

Bobby said...

Wow! Great to hear from you again. We miss you.
My wife has a similar story about chasing a mouse around the kitchen and ruining baseboards. I just couldn't fit all of my mouse stories.

Jill said...

The look on Bobby's face as I carefully checked the nest for babies was PRICELESS!!!

He was peering through the window of the closed (and most likely LOCKED) door that leads from our garage to the deck. When I held up my fingers to show that there were 3 babies, I thought he was going to absolutely faint!

Yupp, that's my big, strong, brave husband!!!

P.S. I have sooo many mouse stories to tell...hmmm, maybe I should start my own blog... "Rat Pack"? "Mousekefears"? "Mouse Hunt"? "Mouse Mess"? Ahhh, the list goes on!

MotherOf3Guys said...

I have missed reading and responding to the blogs.
Jill,
You gotta love those men and their expressions. Thank heaven for women...but don't have me do mice or spiders!!

Neva said...

so, I am guessing that Chin the chinchilla would not be welcome at your house? The first night Chin was with us, he escaped and the daughter and a friend and I tried to catch him. I was sooo like MOtherof3guys because when they cornered Chin near me, he ran up my leg and to my shoulder and soared thru the air to -who cared where-at that point I was screaming like the girl I am.....the daughter and friend were convulsed with laughter on the floor.

Anonymous said...

Bobby, it is obvious by your mouse phobia that Mickey (the most famous mouse of all) would not survive at your house.

Poor old Walt would be really disapointed at your behavior and if someone from Disney reads your blog, Disney will probably ban you for life from Disneyland, Epcot Center, or Disney World.

Jamie

Jill said...

I am happy to report that Mama mouse has moved her brood from the grill and hopefully onto greener pastures. I checked two days ago and Mama and one of the babies were missing...yesterday everyone was gone.

So, I immediately took the grill apart, removed the nest, scrubbed the grates with bleach, rinsed them and put them back, then I lit the grill and left it going for over two hours at 700 degrees.

...still Bobby refuses to ever eat anything cooked on that grill again!!! Too bad he's too cheap to go out and buy a new one!!! LOL

petey chocolatechips said...

bob as always youre stories make me smile.

MouseLover said...

I'm glad you saved the mouse and pinkies. I think mice are adorable. I would've taken them in...awww

Janet said...

It is 0341 EST right now, and I cannot sleep because I hear mouse noises in the kitchen. I got up to google "mouse phobia" and stumbled across your blog. My musophobia is still debilitating, but I got a laugh from your story and am glad to know I'm not the only one with this condition. I can't wait to buy mousetraps on the way home from work.

JPizzle said...

I had to look this blog up after reading your fb post about finding the nest of rabbits and share a story lol

This past month a neighbor of ours across the street from us sold her house and the new owners who bought it were doing renovations. So they tore up their entire backyard which in turn lead to bigger problem in my back yard.

RATS!!! One day while getting my backyard ready for Spring/Summer I saw all these burrowed holes going underneath the corner and under a concrete slab we have by the door. I would cover them back up with dirt and the next morning they'd be dug out. I do not handle rodents well, just like you! lol

After having Terminex come out and assess it, they followed the trail from my yard to their entrance point and pinpointed it to the neighbors yard saying they unearthed their borrows when digging up the place! Just lovely!

So our backyard was now quarantined from use with bait boxes and poison traps all around. One morning, I peak my head out our window above the back yard and see a dead one just laying there. I refused to go out in the yard and waited the entire day for my wife to get home from work and deal with it. Not so much of a man there lol But my reasoning was, she is a nurse and deals with death and dead bodies so what is one little rodent to her. And as I held a garbage bag open with my eyes closed, she picked it up by the tail (w/ gloves on of course) and tossed it in the bag all while calling me "such a girly man". lol

Luckily, a month later I am happy to say we are rodent free. I borrowed my brother-in-laws pellet gun incase they happen to come back. Hopefully not. But who am I kidding, I can't even deal with looking a a dead one, let alone face a live one with a pellet gun. I would probably just throw the entire gun at it and run away screaming like a girly man! lol

I had to share, and sorry if hearing the word rats gave you chills! lol

JPizzle said...

I had to look this blog up after reading your fb post about finding the nest of rabbits and share a story lol

This past month a neighbor of ours across the street from us sold her house and the new owners who bought it were doing renovations. So they tore up their entire backyard which in turn lead to bigger problem in my back yard.

RATS!!! One day while getting my backyard ready for Spring/Summer I saw all these burrowed holes going underneath the corner and under a concrete slab we have by the door. I would cover them back up with dirt and the next morning they'd be dug out. I do not handle rodents well, just like you! lol

After having Terminex come out and assess it, they followed the trail from my yard to their entrance point and pinpointed it to the neighbors yard saying they unearthed their borrows when digging up the place! Just lovely!

So our backyard was now quarantined from use with bait boxes and poison traps all around. One morning, I peak my head out our window above the back yard and see a dead one just laying there. I refused to go out in the yard and waited the entire day for my wife to get home from work and deal with it. Not so much of a man there lol But my reasoning was, she is a nurse and deals with death and dead bodies so what is one little rodent to her. And as I held a garbage bag open with my eyes closed, she picked it up by the tail (w/ gloves on of course) and tossed it in the bag all while calling me "such a girly man". lol

Luckily, a month later I am happy to say we are rodent free. I borrowed my brother-in-laws pellet gun incase they happen to come back. Hopefully not. But who am I kidding, I can't even deal with looking a a dead one, let alone face a live one with a pellet gun. I would probably just throw the entire gun at it and run away screaming like a girly man! lol

I had to share, and sorry if hearing the word rats gave you chills! lol

Debra Larochelle said...

You sure know how to tell a story Bob. Always most enjoyable.