I Can’t Go Home

I’m holed up at the coffee shop with my laptop and a chocolate chai latte, not because I’m feeling particularly inspired to write, but because I can’t go home.

I repeat: I can’t go home.

This is because I got a text from my dad an hour ago informing me that an intruder had arrived at Casa Richter—the sort of intruder that only comes this time of year and wrecks havoc for the entire duration of his stay.

He may be small, but he’s a menace and quite frankly, his arrival has me thinking I’d rather live out in the sticks with my brother than go through this again.

Because, yes, I’ve been through the before.

The last time it happened, I arrived home from The School and issued my customary “Yo Yo!” from the foyer (which is how I make sure my parents aren’t like… you know… getting jiggy in the living room or something).

Usually, because we like to think we’re gangsta rappers, one or both of my parents will yell “Yo yo!” right back, at which point I’ll know it’s safe to go upstairs.

But last year, there was no “Yo Yo!”

And the reason for this was not that my parents were otherwise engaged.  The reason was that they were buried beneath the contents of the entire pantry.  I’m talking cereal boxes, canned goods, pasta, hot chocolate mix, granola bars—everything.

“She found out,” my dad whispered.

“How?” I demanded.

“She saw him.”

“I knew we should have told her right away!” I hissed.  “I knew it was a bad idea to keep this from her.”

It was at this point that my mother emerged from beneath the pile with an empty Tupperware in one hand and a roll of plastic bags in the other.  “I’m not mad at you two for keeping it from me,” she said trying to keep her voice as calm as possible.  “I know why you kept it from me.  What I don’t know is why you two don’t understand that we live in a CITY and when you live in a city you CANNOT LEAVE FOOD OUT!!!”

Now would be a good time for me to point out that we’re not talking about some long lost relative or an unfortunate cousin who nobody likes.  We’re talking about a mouse.  A tiny, helpless little mouse in need of a place to stay over the winter.

(At least that’s how I tried to pitch it to my mother; she, however, would have none of my charity.)

When my dad first noticed the mouse scurrying beneath the kitchen counter, he said nothing.  Instead, he went to the drug store, bought some traps and set them up where my mother wouldn’t find them.  When I saw the mouse for the first time a few days later, I went straight to my dad.

“I think I saw a mouse.” I said.

“Me too,” he replied.  “Don’t tell your mom.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

My mom is… well, there’s no way to sugarcoat it: she is crazy when it comes to rodents.  Wrap-unopened-cereal-boxes-in-plastic-bags-and-then-lock-them-in-Tupperware-crazy about rodents.

She once explained that her fear stemmed from a PSA that aired in the Bronx when she was a child as part of the “Starve a Rat Today” campaign.  Evidently, the ad featured a toddler in a crib petting a “cat” while cooing “Here, kitty kitty.”  Except the cat was not a cat.  It was a rat.  In the baby’s crib.

I guess I’d be permanently scared too if I had grown up watching that on TV.

Which is why I can’t go home.  Not until the scourge is over.

Note: The scourge is now over.  I actually wrote this post several months ago and held off on publishing it until I could secure my mother’s approval and report, with both joy and sorrow, that the mouse is dead.  I guess I can go home now.

26 Responses to “I Can’t Go Home”

  1. CaptainPhoenixRising

    Could you please send your Mother over to my house? It seems she has the magic touch… In January alone I caught SIX (yes 6…) little mousies in my house. Thanks to her suggestion of peanut butter cups in the traps no less… I have now come to the comfortable understanding that as long as we don’t have to interact with each other (They were playing a rousing game of tag right in front of me in my bedroom) we can co-exist for the moment. (I also sent a strong message by catching six of their cohorts…and not in a live trap either…) Such is life in the city. Now if it were a rat in the house, there would be NO mercy!

  2. aka gringita

    As the previous commenter noted, mice usually come in packs. If you get them quick, you might only end up with one (I like to think of it as a scout) but once they are ensconced for any length of time, they start multiplying. Usually I get one…. or I get 5 or 6.

    (Vermin. Shudder. The annual arrival of mice is, for me, the toughest time to be a single gal living alone.)

    Seriously, aside from the grossness factor, mice are extremely destructive to a home. They are responsible for a ridiculous number of home fires every year, because they do things like gnaw at the protective coating on wiring… just as one example. So your mom is right. Don’t leave food out. Down with mice!

  3. Landlord

    LOL, thanks for all of the love and support, this post had me completely hysterical and in a good way, not in the “a mouse is in our house” way. And Captain, we don’t even mention that other “thing” you spoke of…drastic measures of the likes you have never seen, would have to be taken.

    • CaptainPhoenixRising

      LOL! Well…the drastic measures are still in place and I have not caught one for many weeks now. (I do think I heard one last night though…so new measures will be taken!) BUT…I came into my office this morning to find that there was a visitor in here over the weekend! It ate a packet of crackers and got into a container of creamer… So I don’t think I can come to work tomorrow…

  4. Ellen Rhudy

    Your mom has it right – give an inch and you’ll be overrun. The first year of my peace corps service I tried to live in harmony with my mice (I lived in a rural area, and my house was between a barn and a slaughtering ground – so, rodents everywhere), cleaning up their droppings and pretending they weren’t peeing all over my kitchen counters. The second year I opened war on them, when they moved their extended mouse family in. I’ve poisoned them, drowned them, glue-trapped them, everything. I wish I’d had your mom around the first time I saw a mouse in my kitchen, so I could’ve quashed them early on.

  5. Philly Tap Teaser

    Years ago, in my West Philly apartment, I had a mouse problem. Dale bought me a kitten to take care of it. We named her Artemis (Arty) because she was truly the GODDESS of the hunt. It took her no time at all to catch one. Within hours of her arrival, I saw her playing energetically with what I thought was a small, gray fuzzball – in fact, it was a dead mouse. She took her job very seriously and caught way more mice than I ever knew, or wanted to know, I had.

  6. Zak

    I think, as great as this whole post is – and it is great – I especially liked the “yo, yo” part. That was great.

  7. Chauffeur

    Why do we even have two dogs if they are unable or unwilling to keep any adn all small grey cold weather visitors away. Cats are not an option, but those mutts need to step up.
    UPDATE from mouse control central, “that mouse” was more than one, but we got them all, (I never share the exact number with Landlord for her own safety and security). I am pleased to report, all of the unsprung traps baited with peanut butter, (the good sugar laden stuff, not that healthy organic oily crap we usually buy), are still baited and unsprung after more than a few weeks. Lastly and unrelated….is anyone else still glowing form the Giants wonderful S.B. win last evening?

  8. awindram

    Had a few mousey intruders when living in Center City. Those Philly brown stones seems to attract plenty of rodents and roaches (though thankfully I never had to deal with that last lot). Apparently mice don’t like the smell of peppermint so dousing some peppermint oil near where they’re getting in or just constantly eating peppermint patties are some possible methods of dealing with them.

    • Landlord

      hmm, peppermint oil is a possibility for a deterrent~will try that in the basement to make sure they know they are unwanted in this establishment.

  9. canti

    I used to think the mice were sorta cute … remember the little baby ones that would show up at Allen House on occasion? We honestly didn’t have any real means to keep them out … right up until my “partner-in-crime” for the camp informed me that mice can carry the Hanta virus. It only took me one time looking that up for me to no long contemplate the cuteness of those tiny micelings … we had a few of them around BRIEFLY when the weather turned cold up here, but lukily, our cats ARE on the ball, and after the mouse numbers were basially decimated, they decided to winter elsewhere.

    • Kat Richter

      Eek! I think I remember seeing one during a long afternoon of Indiana Jones are scrubbing potsherds with a toothbrush… those were the days 🙂

      • Kat Richter

        And I’m being totally serious, by the way. Every once in a while I get the urge to go back to school. For archaeology. Just in case I don’t have enough ridiculously-difficult-to-earn-a-living-with degrees already!

        • canti

          Those absolutely absolutely *were* the days! 🙂 When I was moving, I discovered a few of my staff shirts in the back of a drawer. They’re pretty beaten up, but they bring up such nice memories that I packed them in the “bring” box.

          As for going back to school for archaeology … remember, there are LOTS of avocational possibilities to get involved just to “keep your hand in”, probably some even locally. You’d have to go at least for a master’s degree before you’d be able to teach anthropology/archaeology. Indiana Jones gigs are few and far between, unfortunately 😦

  10. Just Me

    I just had the pleasure of reading this post. I am in near-rabid agreement with your mother. Vermin will not be tolerated. My children want pet gerbils, hamsters, etc., and I can’t even look at them behind glass in Petco without struggling to hold back my gag reflex. The only rodents I might allow would be a bunny or a guinea pig, and a guinea pig is a stretch for me.

    Years ago, my husband and I took a trip to New Orleans, and the roaches there (romantically named “Palmetto Bugs”) were bigger than the ones I saw in Florida. I emptied our suitcases in the driveway when we returned home to search for stowaways.

  11. becky119

    Traps so rarely work. My first apartment had a mouse problem and the ex-boyfriend who shared the apartment with me put down traps and poison. Nothing worked. Then I met Gir, my fuzzy cat who thinks he is a dog. I brought him back to my place and he caught and killed the mouse within 24hours.

    That was the first and only mouse that he caught. We had a mouse problem at our current house and we have three cats. But they won’t catch mice anymore. We even tried not feeding them until they caught the mice. Still didn’t work. Oddly enough, traps worked. The cats prefer catching moths that fly into the house and ripping off their wings and eating them. Gross.


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