The day had started off as most do. I had woken up early and after my coffee, I decided to stave off the below zero weather by making banana, date, and cranberry muffins. Gluten-free, of course. I had both sides of the oven on and the kitchen was smelling delicious and even the ice on the windows was starting to soften.
I had just taken the muffins out of the oven and they were a perfect golden brown. I wanted them to cool off on the bakers rack that I had placed in the warming tray when I'd cleaned and organized the kitchen on Christmas Day. That's what this Jewish girl did on Christmas day - cleaned and organized the kitchen and laundry room and then cooked up a Chinese feast. But back to the muffins. I opened the warming drawer and something gray, furry, and fast ran past my fingertips. I stifled what felt like a volcanic scream into a small screech, so as to not wake the sleeping oldest child. I slammed the drawer shut and sent three frantic texts to my husband. Blech.
He came home on his break and proceeded to tear apart the kitchen in search of the mouse. No mouse. Are you sure? I questioned him. He took the flashlight on his iPhone and searched in every drawer, behind the refrigerator, and under the sink. No mouse. He had to get back to work, I had to pick up the twins at their sleepover.
I didn't expect my final post of 2014, let alone my final day of the year, to be about buying a mousetrap at Home Depot. And I add, I didn't expect to experience the shame I felt in the pest control aisle. I was really hoping my husband would handle it, but as I was already going out to get goodies for our stay-at-home New Year's Eve sushi dinner, and he wasn't sure when he'd be home, I bravely agreed. This year has been about doing things that take me to the edge and trust me, buying mousetraps definitely falls into that category.
I walked into Home Depot and asked someone where the mousetraps were. A long pause and then a direction - where the rest of the pest control was, which in this store's case, was anchored to a south facing wall. Good, I thought as I strolled over, lingering by a flat-screen TV fireplace. Less of a chance to be seen.
My stomach began to tighten as I looked up and down the aisle. There were solutions for ants, centipedes, gophers, and not in alphabetical order. I didn't want to have to ask for help again. Then I saw them. Nestled into the corner of the shelf were a variety of lethal weapons suitable for rodents. I kept my distance. My heart began to race as I peered at the ones that promised rodent genocide. If that was needed, we'd be moving into the nearest hotel.
It took a while, but I finally found them. A pack of four mousetraps for $1.97. I picked the package up with my gloves still on (and which are now in the laundry) and held it an arm's length from my body. My sense of shame was close to making it difficult for me to breathe and I became desperate to find something else to buy, so that no one would think that I was there just for the mousetraps. I stumbled into the light bulb section and found four 40 watt bulbs, which we really needed. Really.
As I checked out in the self-service lane, I felt like I did the first time I ever bought condoms, or rolling papers, or how my husband feels when he has to buy tampons and pads. When buying these items, they are never a solo purchase, and always with other essentials, as if my list went something like this:
I've never been a fan of rodents. As a child growing up in Southern California, we had tree rats the size of possum and for a while had a family living in our attic, which made for lots of terrorizing by my brothers. When I lived in New York City during college, I shared a dingy apartment in what was truly Hell's Kitchen and slept for two weeks in the bathtub when the mice took up residence without paying rent. For a while I thought I'd gotten over my fear when I began to volunteer at the Longmont Humane Society for the small paws, which was the only group the twins could help with. Our time mostly consisted of tending to the rabbits and guinea pigs, but when those lovelies were scarce, we had to help out with the rats. Or I should say, I sat as far away as I could while the twins played with them. I held one and it peed on me and that was enough.
The shame is not just mine. When our oldest announced to her sisters that we had a "mouse problem," one of them burst into tears as if we were living out scenes from Les Miserable. But I also felt such a sense of shame in the pest control aisle at Home Depot. Why? We live in the world with lots of creatures and rodents are among the most plentiful of them. I have no answers, but will have something to ponder as the ball drops in Times Square tonight.
But as the year ends, I can proudly say that I've purchased my first mousetraps and I'm waiting for my husband to place them strategically in our kitchen. And while we wait for those to work their magic, I'll be searching on Amazon for a high-frequency mouse detractor.
We really know how to live it up on New Year's eve, right?
Here's to always finding humor, in 2015, and beyond.