Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Furry Gift

I didn't want to admit this before Cookie Swap 2009, but now that it was a success, I can tell you.

*Deep breath.*

I have a mouse. Well, had. Or have half of a mouse. OK, really I am not sure what I have now, but I do know that I HAD a full-on mouse for several months and it has thoroughly freaked me out. The first time I saw Chester was about a year ago. M and I were watching TV and I saw something dive from the top of the stove INTO THE BURNER and under the stovetop. I jumped. Like, literally, from a sitting position on the couch, my body tensed and levitated for an entire three seconds. M didn't see it, and we were watching something scary, like Lost, (which no one other than me thinks is scary but I couldn't even get through the first two episodes,) so neither of us was convinced that I had seen anything. A half hour later, we both saw something fast and grey dart across the kitchen floor. I left all the lights on and picked up all my clothes off the floor and slept with them on the bed.

There were a couple more episodes like this before my super finally came out to check my apartment. Which consisted solely of laying glue traps behind appliances and other places where they could immediately collect dust and become ineffective. This did not assuage my fear of fast-running vermin. I began to picture a mouse limping around my apartment with a glue trap attached to one foot like a snowshoe. So I tried to channel my inner Disney princess. I have wanted to be Cinderella since I was five years old much like other people have wanted to be teachers or veterinarians. Unfortunately for me, I had a full set of nice parents who only made me do the dishes. But I did sing Cinderella's entire repertoire while washing them, which is sort of the same. Anyway, C'ella had loads of mice friends and she even made them clothes, so I figured if Gus and friends were cute and nice for her, surely I could enjoy Chester's company. At least until he outfitted himself a glue-shoe.

But Chester was very much unlike Gus. He didn't sit and sing songs while sewing dresses, which would have been extremely helpful for me. Instead he would RUN across my floors, inciting noises from me that only dogs and aliens could hear. I think more than anything it is the frightening speed that unsettles me. You can't be my friend if you can't stay still long enough for me to dress you in a matching hat and shirt combo. (Apparently.) Chester also had this annoying habit of sticking his little head out from under the closet door and looking for me before running. I found that if I slapped the couch, he would duck back into the closet, so one day I kept this game up until I found some three ring binders and shoved them up against the closet door, trapping him inside. Then I called my super and said the following:

Me: "Ihaveamousecanyoucomegetit???"

Super: "Yes, where is it?"

Me: "Ihaveittrappedinsidetheclosetand...EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE...HE JUST STARTED SQUEAKING!"

Chester had become frantic and had begun scratching at the door and squeaking to get out. So the super came and made a fortress of glue traps in front of the door in case Chester made a run for it, while he proceeded to take every piece of junk I store in the closet out to find him. Once found, the super made a glue-trap sandwich of Chester and the last glimpse I saw was Chester's leg twitching against the sticky chemicals coming at him from all sides. Gross.

The super left some more glue traps and I thought that was it. Until I began hearing noises in the walls in a few months ago. Scampering noises accompanied by the sound of drywall flaking off in between the joists. Super gross. And not surprisingly, Chester II began the same head-poking routine shortly thereafter. Besides the speed, I am additionally freaked by the thought that a Chester will run his germy body across my foot, or hide himself in one of my shoes and I will put it on to find a warm, squirmy body. And Chester II was a little braver than the original Chester because he would run from one closet to the other while I was standing up, not just when I was on the couch. So after he ran into the linen closet one day, I repeated my binder trap, (I could make a really lame "trapper keeper" joke here, but I will refrain,) and called the super. Who decided not to answer. I figured my trap would keep, (I told you that joke would be lame, leave me alone,) and left the barricade and stayed at M's. It took three days for my super to answer his phone, which I am chalking up to the idea that if I could hear multiple Chesters in the walls, everyone else was probably calling him too. He said there was a hole in the apartment to the outside and came through with caulk and more glue traps. I was now not convinced this was going to work, but had been fired and did not have any other resources. No state-of-the-art mice killers for me, then.

About a week before Cookie Swap 2009, I woke up to a insistent squeaking. Like the pipes were begging for a release. It was coming from under the stove. Where a glue trap had been freshly laid. I couldn't look. I let the sticky assassin do its work and I left for the day. I came home that night to a quiet apartment and decided I couldn't just let the mouse rot under my stove or else the cookies would end up tasting like poisoned fur. So I peeked under the stove...and all that remained was what looked like scraps of paper. Chester had somehow escaped by CHEWING THROUGH THE GLUE TRAP.

But I haven't seen or heard any mice since, so this is what I imagined happened:

Chester, with one front paw stuck, frantic and out of options, begins to scrape at the glue trap, sticking his other front paw to the trap. So he chews through part of the glue trap until he feels woozy, prompting him to stop chewing and get back home. He starts jumping, the front glue-paws taking a leap and the back paws catching up, occasionally sliding forward due to the smooth side of the trap. He makes it back to his home, where he manages to warn his family, before dramatically passing out and dying from glue poisoning in front of a crowd of mice. The mice are so scared, they make Chester's body a shrine to the dangers of apartment 2B. They post drawings of the crime scene and maps of how to avoid my apartment.

I am hoping that mice have a long enough memory and high quality artistic abilities so that this scenario could have in fact happened, but I am not entirely convinced. Like I said, I may have half of a mouse hiding somewhere in my apartment. Or at least half of a glue trap. So incredibly gross.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is not to scare any of my friends away from my place, or my cookies, but because I feel the need to confess my un-Disney-like mice experiences. I am much better with stuffed animals than I am with birds and mice and forest creatures. It is because of my fondness for stuffed animals as a child that I thought I could channel Cinderella at some point in my life, but I guess mice are about as cute as housework for me. Stuffed animals, however, have figured prominently in many birthday gifts for and from me for many years. (I do NOT have an abundance of creepy stuffed animals on my bed currently, however. I have a couple with my shelf of children's books and the rest are packed away. I am not actually five.)

My mom went back to school for her masters a several years ago. She graduated four years ago this May, finishing on time. This is remarkable because she commuted an hour each way to class on top of her full-time job. When she began her coursework, I got her a stuffed moose to keep her company on her drive. This may seem like an odd choice, and it is. But here's the backstory:

My family thinks the word "moose" is funny. I don't know why. Maybe because it rhymes with lots of stuff. Maybe because one time my dad coined the phrase "moose doots" to describe things that look like poop. Such as chocolate chips or raisins or anything small and dark that is left on a plate or a counter and which combined with my dad pointing and saying, "Hey look, Moose Doots," makes you lose your appetite. This is a running joke in our family. So, my idea for my mom was to get her something to accompany her on her way to class to make her ride more fun or safe or comforting. I was thinking of an angel. But then I found a small stuffed moose. So I named it "Doots the Commuter Moose" and presented it as her Back to School gift.

Doots is still in my mom's car. She references it frequently and even reminded me of it when I started this blog. He helped her through two years of driving hundreds of miles. He was quiet and always smiled and if I could sew, I could have dressed him up like Gus. If only Chester could take a page from Doots' book, I would be up one and a half mice.


  1. I've always said that unless a mouse answers to the name Mickey and lives in the Magic Kingdom, I'm not interested!

  2. Oh, I forgot about Mickey -- see, I don't even associate him as a mouse! Is that a type of animal racism?

  3. I'm sorry about Chester I and Chester II! I've never really minded mice, however I would not want one creeping in my closet. However while you have Cinderella and Gus fantasies, I meanwhile have Fevil and family fantasies. Somehow if i know that if I found mice, they would be a Russian Jewish family of mice, and have a daughter that sang her way from NY to the wild west...

  4. Erin~~ Oh Fivel! I loved that movie! There are so many examples of cute cartoon mice. I somehow think that if they had cute examples of REAL mice, I would be more ok with the possibility of Chester III.