Many months ago, we had a mouse in our house. This was when The Bean ate most vigorously, flinging food and filling up the winter boot tray that we use as a baby meal catch-all. Our apartment doesn’t have space for a stand alone high chair, so we got one of those clamping suspended kinds. If you decide you can stomach clamping your baby in a cloth chair onto your table, you should know, first, that you’ll probably have to get a different table without a lip, likely from IKEA, and second, it takes a lot of faith in physics and design to trust that your bobbing progeny is going to be safely cantilevered out over nothing except a boot tray by an object manufactured by IKEA.
Those design geniuses at IKEA managed to create a table that supports the clamp chair and also fits right over the cast iron radiator which takes up most of the table-available floor space in our kitchen. The radiator conveniently warms diners’ knees and then less conveniently bakes onto the surface of the table any goos and smears left from prior meals.
Anyway, The Hubs named the mouse Reginald, and Reginald was a lucky creature, treated daily to an all you can eat buffet beneath the suspended chair. But eventually, we tired of sharing our tiny apartment: “Reginald”, said The Hubs, “has to go.” Reginald was too dear to me to die a painful death, so we baited up the humane traps and waited. Nothing happened. And then, the peanut butter disappeared and still nothing happened. The Hubs was beginning to mutter about more terminal approaches. We had almost forgotten about Reginald when one morning I heard a repetitive clicking sound. Both the front and back hatches of the trap were down and from the inside of the tube was clear evidence of rodent life.
So The Bean and I bundled up for a walk. Reginald in his transporter was set in an Amazon box, which was placed in the lower compartment of the stroller, and that mouse was then treated to the most exhilarating ride of his life. We bumped and crashed our way down the fairly decrepit public sidewalks to Allegheny Cemetery. Probably my favorite place in Pittsburgh, the Cemetery is a gigantic oasis of green in the middle of the bustling city. You can lose yourself in its hills and paths. I parked the stroller, open the box, set the trap on the ground, and opened one of the hatches. Nothing happened. I tapped on the trap. Still nothing. And then, like a rocket, that mouse shot out of the trap, ran for a good 20 feet towards the base of a large tree, paused, and just kept running.
Fast forward one year, and we’re sharing the apartment with not one but two mice. We haven’t named this round. They’re more aggressively munching things, and quite brazen. They have no fear of us until we hurl something. We’ve set two humane traps which they appear to be eating the peanut butter right out of. It doesn’t help that The Bean’s favorite winter activity is “Pay wice!” – play rice – which involves sitting in his hard plastic wading pool in the middle of the living room, pouring dried rice from one container to another, over and over and over. The mice are quite thrilled about the wice. Merry Christmas, vermin.
So it came to pass that The Bean had a terribly wakeful night just before New Year’s, and at 2:30am was completely unable to sleep. The Hubs and I traded him off every few hours, and I discovered that it is possible to read books to your child while laying on the floor at least 98% asleep. The Bean, however, tired quickly of my slurred mutterings and went on to dismantle most of his bedroom.
The next night was New Year’s Eve, I had a huge fancy brunch to oversee the following morning, and we stayed up late eating Cuban food and playing with a small friend’s new train table, so the Hubs and I though surely we would all get a decent night’s sleep. But again, at 2:30am, I was awakened by…intermittent clicking. From the living room, which is just past the curtain at the end of our bed, came the sounds of a mouse in the trap. Aside from the auditory annoyance, we realized that we didn’t know how long the mouse could survive in the trap, and that I didn’t have time to incorporate a release plan before work. Already anxious about my early morning, I could not afford a trip to the Cemetery, but neither did I want the mouse to starve in a humane trap, rendering the trap’s name pointless. The mouse began gnawing louder. The Hubs got up and put the trap in the bath tub and closed the bathroom door, so we could attempt to sleep without interruption, but it was too late for my fragile brain.
And that is how, on New Year’s Day, I came to be furtively sneaking through a different nearby green space, with a small box containing a small machine containing a small mouse at 4:25 am. Concerned that I might meet some revelers still reveling and aware that the park I picked was the location of a series of muggings several years ago, I was continually looking over my shoulder. It was very dark, and I was very stealthy, fully aware that any knowledge of my spread of pestilence would put me on the hit list of any nearby neighbors. As The Hubs put it, “Well, now he’s living in someone else’s house.”
Exhausted from averaging five hours of sleep over the last two nights and preparing a huge, extra-fancy brunch at the restaurant which then had an attendance that was crushed by the Steelers game, I burst into tears when, that afternoon, I nearly tripped as another mouse came careening out of the bathroom and slid into home base, legs in the air, directly across my path.
I indulged in a few moments of self-pity, and then I took a very long nap.
Megan Lindsey is an owner and founder of Franktuary restaurants in Pittsburgh, PA, a new mother, and, whenever possible, a writer, homemaker, and musician. Follow her adventures as #RestaurantMom at franktuary.com/blog/.
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