The night before I left Toronto for Monterey, I said goodnight to roommate Deye and went to return to my basement lair. Because the stairs are a tad too shallow for my giant feet, I sometimes take the stairs like a 3 year old and climb down backwards, like I'm going down a ladder. Because my lair is cozy and bedtime is delightful, I often hum Stairway to Heaven.
I walked through the doorway to the basement, turned around and took one step down, then reached up to close the basement door. Behind the basement door was a mouse.
What follows, in no particular order, are the things that flashed through my panicked brain while the mouse and I looked deep into each other's eyes.
Physical reactions: I think I just threw up a little.
Roaches v. Rodentia: I'm actually bothered less by cockroaches than by mice. Why? Because I can spray a roach to death with Tilex and feel naught but triumph. But to do that to a mouse would be HORRIBLE. I don't want to kill furry vermin. I just want them to NOT BE HERE.
"The Stick": Towards the end of my last stay in a basement, there was a tremendous mouse infestation. Nothing kept those furry fuckers away - poison, traps, prayer, accidentally cooking one that had sneaked into the stove - I tried them all. Eventually, I was reduced to sleeping with earplugs so that I wouldn't hear the nighttime scritching and clapping loudly before I went into the kitchen. I also found that the mice would quit scratching when I banged on the cupboard a few feet from my futon. I couldn't actually reach the cupboard FROM my futon, so I got some packing tape and a bunch of kitchen implements, spatulas, wooden spoons, etc. and taped them together to form a large mouse-repellent instrument. Padu came over one night, saw "the stick" on my futon and said: "Is it too much to ask for you to put your sex toys away before I come over?"
"Did Roro forget to OH HOLY JESUS": My ex-roommate Jesk went downstairs to our bathroom one night and found that I had left her a delightful turd. Upon closer inspection (it was dim in that bathroom), she realized that I had not left an itinerant deuce, but that, in fact, a rat had drowned in our john. She immediately lost her shit and went and pounded on our landlord's door. He came to inspect and remove the furry menace. "You know," he said to Jesk as he fished the thing out of the toilet, "I thought you were just being a bit dramatic and girly when you said it was a rat - but this is totally a RAT, man!" "Thanks, Oz," said Jesk, "that's very comforting." Oz took the rat out to dispose of it, but not before Jesk forced me to look at it so that I could appreciate some of her trauma. It looked like a drowned rat. After that, we kept a flashlight in bathroom.
Mariel of Redwall v. Anne of Green Gables: I've always hated talking animal books. But my brother Jaro couldn't get enough of those chatty bastards. He was as addicted to Brian Jacques' Redwall talking rodent books as I was to L.M. Montgomery's fine oeuvre. One afternoon, he and I were reliving our childhood reading choices and agreed that now that we were adults, we should each try to read one of the other's favourite books. Jaro handed me Mariel of Redwall. I handed him Anne of Green Gables. He wandered off to other room and I started to read. About half an hour later, I was trying to not to get riled up by talking badgers when Jaro came back into the living room with Anne. He sat down on the couch and said, "I have a question." "Okay," I said, "shoot." "Do you think," Jaro said, pointing to Anne's carrot-coloured braids on the book cover, "that Anne had red BUSH?"
It Seemed So Funny THEN: Wenders' hilarious yet horrifying tale of "not seeing a r*t in her apartment".
I'll Tell You a Secret: The Secret of Nimh is that mice are in my basement.
At this point, the mouse decided to rush me. I didn't really have a plan, but I knew that if I let this thing run past me down the stairs, I might never sleep again. I braced myself for impact. The mouse saw my resolve. It veered to the right - and disappeared into a tiny hole in the wall next to the stairs. HA ha! I WIN! If by "winning" you mean "the mouse is totally still here and probably has many friends, but I don't see it anymore". I win!
Flush with victory, I went upstairs to inform Deye of my encounter. The mouse hole has since been filled in some some kind of hardened spray foam insulation and all is well. But now when I return to my room at the end of the day, instead of Stairway to Heaven, I find I hum the following from my new version of The Knack's hit My Sharona:
Always shy away from the touch of the furry kind, Mi-i-i- [guitar] M M Miiiice Aroma [more guitar]
Speaking of flushing, I recently learned that Flushed Away is about rats being flushed down toilets. Yeah. Won't be seeing THAT.