To Catch a Mouse

Or: “The Time I Almost Conquered My Fear of Critters”

I have only dealt with mice twice in my life before. The first was about a year ago in my aunt’s house. A mouse had climbed into the trash can and thoroughly surprised me when I went to throw something away. I ran away, screaming and hyperventilating. The second was this past June when I found a mouse in my closet in my old apartment. I jumped onto my bed, screaming and hyperventilating. My current roommate at the time (a boy) was delegated to “do something!” about it. He tried to calm me down by telling me that the little mouse is just as scared of me as I am of it. Did not really help. He managed to scoop it up into a shopping bag and (I’m pretty sure) threw it off the balcony. I do not know for sure, because I did not want to know the details of how he got rid of it. I just cared that it was gone.

It is not just mice that give me the heebie-jeebies. Spiders, centipedes, cockroaches…I have a paralyzing fear of them all. Picture this…during Summer 2010 I was a sailing instructor. During lessons one day (with a handful of kids on the boat), a spider crawled out of the boom about a foot away from me. I had a complete conniption, and fell into the water. The boat continued sailing off without me. Sorry, kids. I guess there is no better way to learn how to sail on your own than when your instructor falls off the boat? Even as a little girl whenever I saw a spider or centipede or any sort of insect, I would trap it under something like a bowl or cup (if I was feeling brave-ish) and run off screaming to find a parent to get rid of it. *I actually still do this.

So as you can see, I do not have much experience with little critters in general.

Three weeks ago, my roommate and I were getting ready for work, business as usual. As we were making coffee, we noticed that there were tiny dark things in a saucepan that we had left (clean) on the stove-top. Upon further inspection, we decided that these were not chocolate sprinkles but probably mouse droppings. Pretty simple conclusion, seeing as we did not have any chocolate sprinkles in our apartment at the time.

This is the worst feeling, because you have not actually found the mouse. It is just lurking in the shadows, leaving it’s mark in household items you use every day. C’mon, Mouse. At least show your face!

A few days pass, and no sign of the mouse (at this point, nicknamed Rocky after the mouse character Roquefort in The Aristocats). Then one day, as we were relaxing and watching TV, it darted out from the kitchen and into the living room where it just hung out by the TV. Neither Kim nor I moved, and I am not sure it knew we were there. One of us stomped our foot down off the couch and Rocky scurried back to the kitchen as quick as Speedy Gonzales. I swear that I saw it bump into the lamp in a frenzy, but I could be exaggerating. This mouse clearly had serious balls, so it was time to do something. While we did our research on the best way to get rid of a mouse, Kim sprinkled Cayenne pepper all around the apartment (apparently an all-natural solution).

Cayenne Pepper. Everywhere.

Cayenne Pepper. Everywhere.

Even More Cayenne Pepper.

Even More Cayenne Pepper.

After consulting with various employees of Home Depot over my lunch break, I left newly outfitted with: steel wool (grade #2), plaster, gloves, face masks, and the good old-fashioned traps. The steel wool and plaster was to fill and cover up the holes under the sink, in the hallway, etc. Face masks were because one Home Depot employee scared the shit out of me and went on and on about what mice like Rocky might be carrying in it’s droppings – this was for our own health. Gloves are smart to use when setting the old-fashioned mouse traps, so that the mouse does not smell you on the trap and avoid it (*pro tip).

Two Handy Girls. In Action.

Two Handy Girls. In Action.

A Job (Kinda) Well-Done.

A Job (Kinda) Well-Done.

We experimented with all of the above, and found out that plaster does not so easily cover up giant wads of steel wool, and I was thankful that we had duct tape – a simple substitution. Once all of the holes were somewhat sealed, in the jankiest way possible, we set the traps. Research shows that mice apparently like peanut butter. Well, I am allergic to peanut butter and Kim does not buy it, so Almond Butter would have to do. For our second trap, why not use cheese? Well, the only type we had was Brie. To be able to have his last meal be of Almond Butter and Brie? This lucky mouse picked one classy Upper East Side apartment.

Post-Gym. Don't Judge Me.

Post-Gym. Ready to Kill.

I will not describe to you what we woke up to the next morning, but I can tell you that there was no question in our minds that Rocky was no longer. And how to dispose of the crime scene? Don’t do it yourself, that’s gross. Call your Super, and have him do it for you with his bare, glove-less hands.

12 Years Ago…

The school administration did not tell any of us what was going on. But you could sense that something wasn’t right. Teachers were crying, and a handful of people got pulled out of class. They never made an announcement because you never know whose parents worked in those buildings or the ones surrounding it. Because of where I grew up, many parents worked in the city and many worked in the WTC. You never know.

So on the bus ride home, our bus driver told me. That’s how I found out that the planes hit the Twin Towers. At first, my friends and I all thought he was telling us the plot of a movie. He didn’t realize we hadn’t heard.

I walked into my house and my mom immediately rushed up to me and gave me a big hug. She told me that everything would be alright, but I still didn’t understand what was going on. I spent the rest of the afternoon in my mom’s arms, watching the TV and waiting by the phone. Hours later, we did eventually reach my father, who was alright.

We never got a day off of school, like the rest of the nation outside of the tri-state area did. I suppose our school wanted to keep day-to-day life as normal as possible for those whose lives were turned upside down. There weren’t many kids at school over the next few days, and you eventually found out whose parents didn’t make it. There were a lot of services to follow, and it took a while for the school population to bounce back.

I know that I will never forget that day and the impact it has had on my life, and there is no other city I would be this proud to live in.

I took this photo a year ago from the Harbor.

I took this photo a year ago from the Harbor.