maybe you'd like to accessorize with mice this winter

Do you divide unpleasant tasks with the others in your life? How does that work in your house? It's fine when it's "OK, I'll finish scouring the broiler pan, you take out the trash and the recycling and secure the little garbage can house from raccoons." On the other hand, sometimes the first person's unpleasant half-task is the second person's reason for uncontrollable laughter and the first person's lifelong grudge.

We've always had a division of labor when it comes to mice. When we first got together, I had super-sharp night-Ninja vision and Himself wore inch-thick glasses and couldn't see to find parking spaces. So my job was to notice a little grey thing running, jump up on bed, chair, or couch, point and scream "Mouse! Mouse! Mouse!" Himself's job was to spin around in the wrong direction and shout "Where? Where?" Then he would go find the building superintendent (we didn't live in a building fancy enough for a Resident Manager) and demand that Something BE DONE. Then my job was to be around when the exterminator showed up, and Himself's job was to deal with the little corpses ("Over there! Eeww! No! Over there!"). Since these tended to turn up late at night, rather than go out of the apartment, Himself would pick the thing up with tissue, drop it into the toilet, flush, and whistle Taps. And so for a number of years we rattled along together, accommodating the division of labor in Marxian harmony (from each according to his ability, to each according to her needs, or something like that).

Then we moved to a larger, more elegant apartment. On Park Avenue, no less. Doormen, a Resident Manager, an on-premises Handyman. One lazy Sunday afternoon, we admired our picture moldings, our crystal doorknobs, our old-fashioned pocket doors, our tall windows, our - mouse? our - other mouse? How can this be? Answer: mice, too, have fine ambitions and the desire for a higher standard of living. I thought it wouldn't be a good idea to kick off our relationship with The Staff by telling them we had mice and demanding an exterminator.

We came up with a plan: I'd go to the nearest hardware store and shop for mousetraps, and Himself would deal with the aftermath. Done. The nearest hardware store was called Gracious Home, and at that time, Gracious Home had a Host. A Greeter. This person's job was to stand at the door, greet you, ascertain your wishes ("Um, a thing to put the thing on the wall that holds up the, um, thing"), translate this into Hardware ("mollie bolt"), and direct you ("Aisle 8"). And so:

Host: Good afternoon, Madam, I am Louis, how may I direct you?
Me (in a teeny whisper): I'm looking for mouse traps.
Host: What?
Me: mouse traps? (looking around to make sure noone I know is buying corkscrews or cheese knives or other respectable items)
Host: Mouse traps?
Me: Yes.
Host: You want the kind that has sticky glue on it and catch the mousie by his legs, or the kind with a metal snapper and break the mousie's neck?
At this point, I am convinced that the rest of the people in the crowded store are all relatives, old boyfriends, girls who had married old boyfriends, employers, former employers, the president of the board of the building we'd just moved into and were polluting with mice, and that they were all tuned into this high-volume dialogue about the disposal of "mousies" with great interest and manifest disapproval.
Me: The glue ones, please.
Host: A wise choice, Madam, a wise choice. (shouting) Yo, Tito! We got any more of those sticky glue mouse traps?
Tito from the back of the store: Eh?
Host: We got any more of those sticky glue mouse traps?
Tito: Eh? Oh, you mean mouse traps! Yeah, we got 'em.
Me: Please, just let me buy them and go hide somewhere.
Tito ambles up to the cash register, deposits a small pile of blue packages near the register.
Tito: OK, lady, your mouse traps is at Register 2, you can pick 'em up when you pay.

Later.  I arrive home, bearing mouse traps and swearing to hate the person who didn't have to go buy them forever. I recite the tale of the guys who live to shout "Mouse traps" at innocent women. Himself's sympathy is tepid.

Himself: Why didn't you get some of each kind?
Me: OK. The rest of the job is yours. Set the traps, catch the mice, do the necessary. I'M GOING SHOPPING! WHERE THEY DON'T KNOW ME! WHERE I'M A STRANGER! I CAN NEVER GO TO THE HARDWARE STORE AGAIN!

And later still, I again arrive home, to find the football game over, the other football game over, and Himself sitting upright on the couch, holding a can of beer  and looking pensive.

Me: Is it safe to come in? Is the game over? Is the mouse gone?
Himself: Oh, yeah. He's gone all right.
Me: What happened? Was it scary?
Himself: I set two traps in the kitchen, I sat down to watch the game, and right when halftime was almost over, I heard this awful bumping noise. A mouse had run over the gluetrap and caught his hind legs in the glue and was scrabbling around the kitchen stuck to it. I feel terrible.
Me: Oh, please don't tell me it's still there.
Himself:  OK.  It's not there.
Me: Where is it?
Himself: Well, I couldn't bring myself to unstick it, and I didn't want to put it in the trash like that, or in the toilet, and halftime was almost over, and I couldn't just leave it like that, so -- I threw it out the window.
Me: Onto Park Avenue?
Himself: Look, it was an important game and the second half was starting.
Me: Did it hit anyone? Did you hear screams?
Himself: I don't know. I got away from the window and sat down.

At this, all hopes that we would ever be mature, responsible citizens evaporated as we imagined the solid citizens of Park Avenue, plutocrats dressed up and out for a Sunday stroll, being dive-bombed by agitated small rodents, detaching squirming mice and glue traps from - expensively highlighted blonde curly hair! shiny bald heads! mink coats! felt fedoras!

We don't have that apartment any more, but I still giggle wickedly when I walk past the building. This is a good thing, because it's on the way to my dentist.


  1. Well, that would have been an interesting plot twist for Stuart Little...

    (We had a mouse nest a few years ago, in our box of Christmas decorations. Had to throw out all the old treasured baubles as they were covered in pee and poop. So sad.)

    1. Hi, Trish! yes, even then we knew that this was not one of the stories we would tell to any future grandchildren.

      Do mice ever destroy anything that isn't precious? that you're relieved to throw out with a clear conscience?

  2. I am laughing pretty hard over here! Oh, mice! We have them occasionally, and dealing with them is definitely not my department.

  3. Hi, JCrewJD, I wish I could look sternly at each mouse and say "I am not your friend," but in real life I just run and shriek.

  4. Oh my God! Cannot stop laughing. I think half the firm heard me. Knew this was going to be hilarious and I shouldn't read it at work but I couldn't help myself.

    Had mouse in house. Bought sticky traps and caught the little bugger but was too squeamish to dispose of him. Put metal wastepaper basket over it and called my dad. He is probably still shaking his head about this.

    1. Hi, shopalot, I think your solution was elegant.

  5. Oh you made me laugh out loud! We live in the woods and there are mice like clockwork, twice a year. I live in determined ignorance of the fate that befalls them. We show no mercy as they simply turn right around and come back in immediately. They are truly cute! Luckily, we live where everyone else is buying them too! Now rats - they scare the bejesus out of me! Last time we are in NYC I saw one in front of the Sephora in Times Square. Probably a tourist like us just looking for lipstick..

  6. Hi, WMM, the Day of the Flying Mouse has become a family legend.

  7. This is hilarious! I am squirming in my chair, because even reading the word mou... sends me into a fainting fit.If they happen to me there will be no division of labour whatsoever! Mr Sulky will be on his own.

  8. Hi, Sulky, it's a shame you missed the Flying Mou...

  9. I admire Himself's resourcefulness! One for the team.

    The mouse dept. is mine; I recommend snap traps and peanut butter. There are no mice in this house, but our prior one was 200+ years old and, as WMM says, mice move in seasonally.

  10. Hi, Lane, yes, often desperation is the secret ingredient of genius.

    1. and, of course, not wanting to miss a moment of The Second Half of The Important Game.

  11. Hilarious - take that you Park Ave dames! Landsakes I can handle spiders and snakes but hate meeces to pieces. I even lost some weight while we had them because It turned my stomach.

    1. Hi, About Last Weekend! well, that wouldn't be my diet of choice, but The Battle of the Last 5 Pounds is still raging here. It may run longer than the Hundred Years' War at this rate.


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