Of mice and men, the mice win
There’s nothing like literally being slapped awake the first night in your new home by your wife exclaiming, “There was an animal on my chest, but then it ran away,” to make you wonder what kind of houses Linda Eighmy at Iowa Realty is trying to unload.
It seems, though, I misheard. Hey, it was 3 in the morning. So, apologies to Linda, who showed my wife, Amy, and I several eligible houses around town before we officially relocated to Jefferson — my hometown — after 14 years in Ohio.
I misheard, yes, but I didn’t completely misunderstand. There was, in fact, a wild animal on the loose in the place we had just chosen to call home.
Trying her best not to wake our 5-year-old son — who actually sleeps so hard, his toes could be gnawed off by a pack of squirrels in the still of the night and he likely wouldn’t budge — Amy clarified the situation in a quasi-whisper-scream.
“We have a mouse,” she informed me. “It’s in the house.” Seems that sometime around 3 a.m. — this was a couple of days before Thanksgiving — our son had called out to Amy and asked if she could lay in bed with him.
She obliged, and he promptly fell back into a coma. And that’s when she heard the sickening scratch. Before she knew it, though, she was looking squarely at a set of beady little eyes on the bed. Luckily, it didn’t linger.
Like my dad and probably his dad before him, I was supposed to man up and come to the rescue. Instead, I cracked. You see, I’m something of a clean freak.
In my Morningside College days, I was probably the only dormitory resident with a can of lemon-scent Pledge on hand, or at least the only one who planned on using it as intended. “Swiffering” could probably be considered a personal hobby.
So when my wife said “mouse,” I heard “Bubonic plague.” “Where is it now?” I asked, not really wanting to know. “It ran off that way,” Amy answered.
I peeked into the living room and spotted the mouse make a mad dash, no doubt spewing the hantavirus as it went, for the TV stand. I’m willing to admit that, yes, I did shriek a little. OK. Maybe a lot.
Actually, I didn’t honestly know I could make a sound like that. And then the mouse, now clearly panicked himself, charged me. Another shriek.
By now, our son was awake and crying, no doubt in disappointment at the revelation that his father — his hero — is a total wuss.
The mouse headed straight back for our son’s room and climbed — in retrospect, I think I saw it lift off the floor and leap through the air — onto the bed again.
There it sat, taunting us. The way I reacted, you’d have thought we moved into the “Amityville Horror” house, and the walls were dripping with blood.
I looked at the mouse and I swear it growled, demonically, “GET OUT!”
I remembered seeing an old mousetrap out in the garage while moving in — we most likely let the mouse in during the move — and I decided that, no matter how freaked out I was, I had to muster a counterattack.
I was literally shaking as I fumbled with a mousetrap that looked like it hadn’t been put to use in years. My wife and kid were looking to me, and now I couldn’t even set a mousetrap. What kind of a man was I, anyway?
I grabbed my iPhone. “I’m going to look up how to set a mousetrap on YouTube,” I proclaimed. I still couldn’t figure it out.
“I’m calling my dad,” I announced. “What?” my wife responded in disgust. “It’s 3:30 in the morning.”
“It’s OK,” I replied. “He’ll help us.” He did. Thanks, Pops.
My parents had been thrilled at the prospect of us moving back to Iowa.
We did. This is what they got.