We have a mouse. Well, we had a mouse. This is the story of our stubborn rat and its demise, a 6-month saga that came to a strange close this past week.
One fateful day back in October, I bought some apples. Real beauties, Galas from Washington state. Not cheap in China, American apples. I set them on the counter like a prize, informed Nick of their presence, and went to bed. The next morning, I came down to the kitchen and looked at the trio of red lovelies sitting there and thought, “Why did Nick take a bite out of one and leave it?” And then it dawned on me: we had a mouse, a little monster eating our imported produce. This was not cool.
The little laoshu upped the ante a few days later when it ate some of Owen’s oatmeal off the counter while I was in the bathroom. Bold! Crazy! Heinous! This was war. No mouse would eat my baby’s food. No. I hid every grain in the fridge and locked up our apples. We ate cold bananas for months, the alternative being to leave the bananas on the counter and risk tempting the bastard.
But still he came, once every ten days or so, scaling our blinds and breaking the strings on all of them under his well-fed weight. He pooped. He peed. He came out when I baked bread: I’d pop into the living room and come back to see the blinds shaking as he made his fat way back up to his hole on the top of the cupboard. We couldn’t shake this mouse.
Then we went traveling. Five weeks away, and I locked up all the goodies well. When we returned, I was sure he was gone, but then I found hideous evidence of his presence in our absence: he’d gone into Owen’s room and rooted around, chewing up bits of the rug for his stupid nest and (gulp) pooping on the floor. It was time to get serious about killing this thing.
Nick, an old hand at killing mice, devised a trap: a long, broad knife, smeared with peanut butter and topped with cheese and balanced on the counter over a bucket of water. If the mouse even set foot on the knife to nibble the food, he’d fall into the bucket and drown. Brilliant. We crossed our fingers and waited. No luck, though, and the knife floundered on the counter for a week, despite fresh applications of mouse-friendly snacks each night.
Then, one day, I walked into the kitchen as the mouse was roly-poly making its way across the counter. I yelled, and Nick came scurrying in. He grabbed the cleaver and shut the doors, and Owen and I waited excitedly outside. I whispered in his baby ear, “Daddy’s gonna kill that stupid, fat mouse so it can’t eat our food any longer!” This was the mouse, remember, that ate Owen’s oatmeal out from under my nose. I hated this mouse with all my being. Nick emerged 15 minutes later, empty-handed. The mouse had gotten away, back into his hole. Man, that thing was fat! We exclaimed.
The next day, I set out to buy some traps. The grocery store clerks informed me that they only sold sticky traps, and if I wanted to buy real traps, I could procure them from “the man on the bicycle.” Sorry, I said, where is this man on the bicycle? “He bikes around. Sells mouse traps, that kind of stuff.” I have never seen this man, I told them. “He’s out there,” they replied, then turned their backs and giggled loudly to each other, “She has a mouse in her house!” Sighing, I bought the sticky traps, then came home and set them up. Ayi helped. She told me to put pork on the trap, because mice like pork. We didn’t have any pork, but she said I could also use egg. Not believing that our mouse had a taste for protein, I put out some bread and apples (known faves). Then I went online to TaoBao (the Chinese version of Ebay) and ordered some real mousetraps.
The TaoBao delivery man showed up the next morning. I paid him and he left. Then I opened the package and pulled out…mouse pads. For the computer. Mouse pads with very realistic-looking pictures of mousetraps on them. (In the .jpeg on the TaoBao site, this came up looking exactly like a mousetrap, and in my relative ignorance of Chinese, I read the description as “mousetrap” instead of “mousetrap mouse pad.”) So now I was the proud owner of not one, but two mousetrap mouse pads. [Sidenote: if any readers want one, please write. I will ship them for free.]
The sticky trap proved useless, except for catching my shirtsleeve every now and then with its awful goo. After a week, we tossed it. And…the mouse never came back.
So the question is: did we scare him away? Did he, wise old mouse that he was, see the sticky trap and think, “Ah, the jig is up,” and go elsewhere? Or did someone else catch him? In any case, we got no satisfaction in his disappearance, but he appears to be gone for good.
Postscript: Again, if anyone needs a mouse pad, I’m your woman.