So I ate a mouse turd last week.
I didn’t mean to. For one thing, if I’d intended to eat a mouse turd I would have chosen a different wine.
But I ate a mouse turd last week.
Here’s what happened.
I love soup. I also love squash. Autumn is soup weather. Autumn is also squash weather. So guess what kind of soup I made?
Right. Tomato bisque.
I actually set out initially to make squash soup – Cream of Roast Butternut and Pear Soup to be exact – but when I went to the store they had a big wicker tub with a sign that read “10 Pounds Overripe Heirloom Tomatoes. Clearance: $3.99”. How could I resist? I’m only human. Ish.
I lugged the whole basket home and set to work. I’ll spare you the details of the recipe except for one thing. A tip I picked up in an old issue of “Cooks Illustrated” years ago has really proven its worth: coat tomatoes with a layer of tomato paste before you set them in the roasting pan. The higher sugar content in the paste helps them caramelize richly, and more evenly. The paste may turn black, but that’s actually a good thing. Give it a shot.
So I roasted off the tomatoes with a bulb of fennel then built that up into a soup. A blitz in the Vitamix, strain out solids, a shot of cream, adjust seasoning, done. Fresh torn basil on top.
God, it smelled good. I grabbed a spoon and tucked in.
As I lifted the spoon to my mouth I saw three small cylindrical flecks floating on top. ‘That’s odd‘ I thought. ‘Some fennel seeds must have gotten through the strainer.’ In went the spoon.
‘Waaaaaaaaait a second. I didn’t use fennel seeds. I used the bulb….oh no!‘
I quickly spat was was left in my mouth into my hand. Sure enough, two black speck floated to the top.
I turned my hand over, dumping the liquid onto the table, and rooted around with my finger. Nope. Three specks went in. Only two came out.
I examined the cylinders.
Oh SHIT! I SWALLOWED A MOUSE TURD!!
How the hell…?
I got up and poured the soup through my finest strainer. Nothing. Just soup.
I knew the bowl was clean because I’d unloaded it from the dishwasher only an hour before, but I checked the cupboard anyway. Nope. Everything spotless. What was left?
I opened the silverware drawer.
A trail of fennelly feces dotted my forks…my knives…my chopsticks..but not my soup spoons. In my haste to get at that bisque I grabbed the top one without looking. The one with all the goods.
Man, there were a lot of pellets in there. Was it a family gathering, or just one incontinent geezer mouse? Do they make Depends for rodents??
I dumped the entire contents of the drawer into the dishwasher, including the tray, and set it on “Pots and Pans, Heavy Incrustations”.
We live in the middle of a 30,000+ acre forest, so a certain amount of wildlife encroachment is to be expected. Up until recently however the native fauna never managed to gain much of a foothold on our property itself. Casey the Wonder Corgi was an effective and enthusiastic bulwark against larger pests like bears, deer, foxes and even the mythical Jersey Devil. Gloria the Boneless Cat handled the rest: bunnies, songbirds, chipmunks, the odd snake, and mice. She caught lots and lots of mice. I know she caught lots and lots of mice because she would triumphantly present them to us on an almost hourly basis. Usually sans head.
But as both have sadly passed, the castle gates are now left unguarded. All manner of 4, 2, and no-legged beasts now call my front yard “home”, with a few – mice and squirrels particularly – even establishing bases indoors. The squirrels mostly confine themselves to our attic, nesting in the warm sheets of insulation lining the rafters. They don’t bother me, I don’t bother them.
But the mice?
Leave shit in my silverware drawer.
They must die.
Now, this isn’t the first time I’ve had a run-in with the little beasts. Once or twice in the past year I’ve had to set out traps after spotting telltale scat around the house. I even figured out where they’re coming in: through a hole in the wallboard where my stove’s power cord threads.
I have to say, the classic Tom-and-Jerry cartoon style mousetrap really lives up to its reputation. Even your basic entry level 79-cent balsa wood model dispatches the little buggers with startling efficiency. Yeah, you risk losing a finger or two every time you load one up. But once you get the hang of it, the payoff in dead mice more than makes up for any severed digits.
There is one downside though: blood. Everywhere. Almost without exception, whenever that spring loaded bar slams onto the hapless creature who tripped it, blood gushes forth. Sometimes it’s from decapitation, sometimes a severed limb, sometime the entire body is cleaved, and sometimes it’s even worse. Those are the times the mouse is compressed but not cut. When that happens, the entire contents of its body cavity is ejected forcibly out its ass. All over my walls. It’s incredible how much spatter an exploding 3 inch long rodent generates.
So this time when I decided to go mouse hunting I took a different tack. Rather than set out the usual bar-and-spring guillotine, then dealing with the ensuing mess of blood and entrails, I’d go for an option that kills the bastard but leaves his body intact. I decided to try glue traps. I’d purchased a few last year and they were still in my junk drawer.
Have you seen these things? They’re shallow trays filled with sticky goo that you set out near known mouse trails, and when a hapless mouse wanders onto it, it’s stuck fast. You just walk over, ignore the pleading look in its eyes, and administer a coup de grâce with a rolling pin or any other stereotypical mouse bashing implement. No muss, no fuss.
Except for the fuss your wife gives you.
“You can’t use glue traps!” NewWifey(tm) yelled at me when I informed her of my plans. “They’re cruel! I’ve read that mice sometimes dislocate shoulders trying to free themselves. That must be agony!”
“Yeah but honey” I said, “I’m tired of cleaning up mini crime scenes every time one of those spring traps slices through flesh. This way I can just pick up the tray, drop it in an old Cheetos bag, slam it against a wall, and toss it in the trash. Much easier – and cleaner.”
“I don’t care” she said. “I know we have to get rid of them, but I am dead set against torture. Which is what those glue traps are.”
“When did YOU become a signatory to the Geneva Convention?”
She glared at me. “Do NOT use glue traps.”
That night I set out the glue traps.
When NewWifey(tm) went in for her shower I ran to my junk drawer and grabbed two unopened packs. I had to get them set before she toweled off.
I went out to the stove and pulled the drawer under the oven completely out, opening a gap I could just wriggle into. By sliding halfway in on my stomach I could place the traps at the back wall.
So, onto my stomach and wriggle wriggle wriggle. It was a tight fit given my post-surgery weight gain. A very tight fit. So tight that I had to buck my torso up and down to move forward, kind of like a walrus working its way along a beach.
It was slow going, but steady progress. A few more walrus pumps and my outstretched arms would be able to place their traps on either side of the power cord hole/mouse door. Just a few….more…inches…to…
With just about every torso hop the back of my head brushed the bottom of the stove. But on my very last hop when my head touched the stove…it stuck! I couldn’t move!
Frantic, I yanked my chin down as hard as I could. I heard a ripping sound, like Velcro, and suddenly I was free. But something felt wrong. I quickly laid my traps down and inched backwards out of the hole.
Fully emerged I stood up and felt the back of my head. There was a hard plastic tray stuck to it. A glue trap! How…? I tugged, but it was stuck fast. I could feel hairs ripping out of my scalp as I tried to work it free.
“How’s that feel, huh?”
I turned with a start. NewWifey(tm) was leaning against the kitchen door, arms folded.
“I told you not to use glue traps” she said. “Hurts like hell having your hair yanked out like that, doesn’t it? Imagine how much those poor mice must suffer.”
“I figured you’d try something like this so I taped a trap upside down to the top of that slot while you were in the bathroom. Then I ran the water in the shower to make you think I was busy, and came back here to watch.”
“But how did you know I was gonna use a glue trap and not a wire one?”
She laughed. “Gimme a break. How long have we been married?”
Son of a bitch.
That stupid tray was welded fast to my skull. I managed to pull a few hairs free, but even more came off my head. Finally, in an act of desperation, I checked the packaging. “If you’re stupid enough to get stuck” it said (paraphrasing), “rub some vegetable oil around whatever’s stuck and gently tug until it’s free“.
I grabbed the first bottle I saw, a Terresacre “Olea” extra virgin olive oil, probably 30 dollars a bottle. I poured a little on my head, worked it onto the hairs in the tray, and slowly pulled. A few came out! I poured a little more…tugged…more oil…tugged….more oil…until finally I was completely free. And smelled like an Olive Garden salad bar.
Well, so much for that. I grabbed out two conventional spring-and-bar mousetraps, got back on my stomach, and swapped them with the glue traps I’d just set. Then in for a long, hot shower.
That was last night.
This morning my alarm went off at 3am as usual. I brushed my teeth and checked the traps. Nothing. Better get going to work.
I grabbed my bag and keys and headed for the door.
Then I stopped. I put my bag down and walked over to the junk drawer.
I took the remaining glue trap and verrrrry gently placed it on the back of the toilet seat.
Hurts like hell having your hair yanked out like that I bet.
I’m at work now so I don’t know if she fell for it. If you don’t hear from me ever again though, it’s a pretty good bet she did.